As we celebrate American Education week, Nov. 15-19, we ask you to take some time to support our public schools. Kentucky historian and centenarian Thomas Clark once stated, "We cannot have a free, open society enjoying economic, social and political advantages without an educated constituency." Our public education system provides educational opportunities for everyone regardless of their ethnicity, religious beliefs, special needs, socio-economic status or ability. The emphasis we place on education today will be reflected in our community in the future. Today's third-graders will one day be our business owners, doctors and electricians.
In the 1600s, public schools were established to teach basic reading, writing and arithmetic skills. Their founders assumed that families and churches would assume the major responsibility for instilling values and raising their children. History, civics, science and geography were gradually added to the curriculum, but the focus remained constant for almost 300 years. Then, in the 20th Century, society began adding responsibilities to our public educators and the additions seem to be continually increasing. In the 1950s, we expanded science and math, added driver's education and sex education. With the 1960s came Title I, adult education, advanced placement and career education. The 1970s brought special education, Title IX, character education, school breakfast, drug and alcohol abuse education and environmental education. 1980 ushered in the decade of computer education, multi-cultural education, child abuse monitoring, teen pregnancy awareness, pre-school programs for at-risk children, after school programs and alternative education. Added in the 1990s were conflict resolution and peer mediation, HIV education, Internet education, inclusion, school-to-work programs and safety programs for bikes, buses and water. And on top of all the basics and new programs, the 21st Century has brought high stakes testing and accountability. Our public educators are not only asked to teach, they are asked to nurture, counsel, nurse, discipline, coach and celebrate!