Parents, grandparents and caregivers who are making education decisions have a lot to consider. Depending on the child’s age and whether they attend a public, private or a charter school, will that local school, its curriculum and experiential learning process prepare thechild with the necessary building blocks and education needed? Will they get enough from it to go on and attend a good trade school, a two-year associates program, community college or public/private university? Just how much is a quality education worth these days?

When I attended Syracuse University back in 1967, graduating in four years, I started in a particular college based on my personal interests and great public high school education and experience with support from my school’s proactive guidance counselor. While I stayed in that college curriculum for almost two years, I found that particular college was not helpful to freshmen in start-up advising and counseling, nor future career planning. Before I transferred out, I approached my college adviser and he asked me why I hadn’t come to him sooner or started sorting things out much earlier. He took no personal responsibility for reaching out, nor stepping up or going above and beyond. (I happen to know that has changed significantly at that college since.)

After transferring to Whitman (School of Management back then), I had a very different experience. The assistant to the dean did everything possible to make me feel welcome and get the proper “leg up” on finishing my education. The rest is history.

These days, it seems to be much different at the pre-college school levels. Some perform well and seem to prepare their students for college entry, while others lag behind based on funding support mechanisms like property taxes, bonds elections or private individual student and family support.

I am very disappointed that the political debate topics of the day have all missed the most important topic of discussion: high-quality education.

No Child Left Behind has been inadequate — ask any teacher, administrator or guidance counselor.

In my lifetime, we have lost larger numbers of children, in generation after generation, to ignorance because we’re listening too closely to others’ opinions or receiving poor-quality training, while others get poor career and life counseling, make or accept poor wages or develop poor decision-making skills, often without knowing the importance of having good common sense.

In Arizona, for example, people and groups have been diligently working with some success behind the scenes, somewhat in the open and somewhat undercover, in growing numbers to augment and supplement our public, private and charter schools. Their work is very much appreciated.

My wife achieved the district’s coveted “Lamp of Learning Award” long before she retired after 30-plus years of working in Syracuse, New York, New Mexico and Arizona. She routinely spent her own money to improve the classroom and learning experiences of her students, like so many other great teachers. Currently, the state of Arizona is bottom or near bottom of the barrel on student spending and salaries.

Divisiveness, poor judgment skills, even anti-Semitism, intolerance and disregard for others human rights, to mention a few, are on the rise because of reasons like jealousy, ignorance or general lack of knowledge or poor understanding of our history. This has affected too many individuals and generations. Why did our schools and the education process fall short?

We need to be on the same side and work together as positive change agents to find the funding, talent and resources to improve the education and experiential learning process. JN

Hank Markiewicz is semi-retired and lives in Phoenix.

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