Letter: No more excuses

Posted: Monday, March 26, 2001

The Empire's Sunday editorial acknowledges that while Alaska's educational system is - and has been for some time - flawed, it almost parenthetically notes the knowledge requirements of "an insatiably challenging society" and that "having waited for at least a generation (we) are impatient for an educational revolution."

Having said all that, the Empire then excuses the failure of the system, implying that while today's diplomas have dubious value, it happened with the knowing acquiescence of parents and "society" and therefore the system is due more time to get its act together, mostly by postponing the test date.

This facile appeasement of parental concerns of "irreparable harm" and the stigma of failing to succeed on the first attempt, and educators' concerns that they cannot easily repair a broken system, ignores several harsh realities:

1. For many years educators (and many parents) insisted education was best left to the "professionals" - who now admit the job can't be done without real student effort and parental involvement - despite repeated warnings from parental activists, many of whom were pressured into acquiescence or withdrew their children to receive quality education elsewhere. We were warned for years, but refused to hear. Now we want time to adjust, but at whose expense?

2. The world is still quite Darwinian, and America is - or at least once was - a place where individuals are free to achieve or fail on their own. We are not preparing our children for real life if we give them a "pass" on testing their preparedness.

Having set reasonable standards of knowledge and reasoning skills, it is incumbent upon us to uphold them rather than continue the dumbing-down of America. We should concentrate our moneys and energies on assisting those students who fail - or are in danger of failing - with tutelage, extra hours and even repeated classes or years. Yes, it's inconvenient - but so is failure at real life.

Damon Cruz


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