Educators Can't Do More With Less
By Gene A. Budig
Special to The Pilot
Teachers and administrators look to 2011 with understandable unease, believing their budgets will be lean, at best.
Many of them expect to be required do appreciably more with less, or as one teacher from Maryland told me at the annual Forum of the College Board in late October, the next budget cycle will be "a bear."
She was especially troubled about protecting colleagues from the budgetary chopping block, describing her elementary school's teaching numbers as inadequate when measured against the mounting number of students that must be schooled.
Her theme was a re-occurring one.
The annual Forum in Washington, D.C., drew 2,200 educators from across the country, and most seemed interested in what others are doing to stretch diminished resources.
A high school principal from an impoverished state acknowledged there needs to be federal debt reduction and lower state and local taxes. The staggering debt can no longer be ignored, he lamented.
In a national survey of Hart Research Associates, commissioned by the College Board, the citizenry was alerted to the need for a modernized high school.
-- Learning independence, accountability and personal responsibility.
-- Learning to be an active participant in one's own education and personal development.
-- Learning how to solve problems and make good choices.
-- Learning about the world beyond one's own boundaries and borders, and the options that are available in the larger world.
-- Learning good citizenship.
College readiness is about more than academics. Students, especially from low-income and disadvantaged surroundings, must be taught how to work through the college application process and obtain necessary financial aid.
Regardless of their aspirations, high school graduates are expected to be able to express themselves orally and in writing, to have mastered basic math and computer skills, and to have developed some cultural literacy through the basic study of history and current events.
Prepared high school graduates must be ready to move on to the community college or the four-year college and university. More and more students are not so young, but driven and promising.
Cooperation between the community colleges and the traditional four-year colleges and universities has improved markedly in recent times, with political and academic leaders lecturing that the United States needs both types of institutions if the nation is to be a legitimate leader in the international race for competitiveness.
And technical education is central to both kinds of institutions.
Gene A. Budig was president/chancellor at three major universities and is past president of Major League Baseball's American League.
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