Public Schools Week highlights triumphs

Support of public schools needed; importance can’t be overstated

By Ken Esten Cooke— We loved reading through the Fredericksburg Independent School District’s third-grader contributions for this week’s Texas Public Schools Week pages.

Their essay subject was “heroes” and they explored who shaped this country and still contributes to their own lives. Military men and women, those who fought the institution of slavery, our 32nd president who overcame polio, moms and dads, brothers, law enforcement personnel and even God.

These voices of appreciation show the perspective of our up-and-coming students. We look forward to their contributions to the school and the community as they travel their road to a high school diploma and beyond.

For its faults and frustrations, public schools provide the foundation for the vast majority of our youth. Doom-and-gloom predictions of how U.S. students rank internationally frequently get headlines, but the minor miracles that are performed year after year are worthy of celebration.

Many public school teachers, administrators and staff end up serving as a mentor or even surrogate parent in ways that are unseen and unappreciated until sometimes years later.

Let’s remember that many other countries still run what amounts to a lottery or caste system, where well-connected or wealthy students are chosen for education, while average or poor families frequently do without. The mission of American public schools to educate every single child is huge in scope and admirable in its vision.

Certainly American schools can and should learn from top-performing institutions in other countries. Certainly, there are entrenched interests which can get in the way of progress. And lastly, we should certainly examine whether the intense focus on testing — from No Child Left Behind to Race to the Top — has been worth the aggravation given the flat scores.

But still there are promising signs and there are young leaders taking full advantage of their public education and moving out into the world to become leaders in industry, science, technology, the arts and many more areas.

One of our third-graders summed up how we feel: “I don’t think real heroes are super heroes, but I think they are the ones who make a difference.”

To our Fredericksburg, Harper and Stonewall administrators, teachers and staff members, we salute you for making a difference each day in the lives of countless children.

And, yes, you are some of the heroes in our community.




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