Education and knowledge translate into power. Education does not parallel economics or politics, but is the soul of society, and more fundamental than these others. Education determines people’s moral values, appearance, eating habits, the role of citizens; it shapes behavioral and subsistence strategies.
Today, unfortunately, there are several weak areas in the secondary education system in the United States and in Alaska in particular: the absence of a unified methodology for teaching, a lack of consistency in school policies, a weak academic curriculum (compared to other technologically advanced countries), and an often unsavory school environment. In addition, some researchers suggests that the U.S. educational crisis is more social than academic, including a remarkable indoctrination of our youth in the divisive “white privilege” and “critical race” doctrines.
Why do newly arrived immigrants to perform better in school than those who have lived in this country for three or four generations?
While some educational experts recommend American schools adopt aspects of our Asian and West European counterparts – longer school years and more rigorous requirements – in order to raise the scholastic level of U.S. students, other researchers indicate that recently immigrated children of Asian, European and Russian origin are able to excel in the American school system as it exists. Despite hardships and limited knowledge of English and western cultural values, these children quickly adapt to their new school environments and rapidly excel within the first few years of schooling.
In the late 1990s, the California Achievement Test (CAT), for example, demonstrated that the performance of newly arrived students was exceptional. Their mean overall score on the CAT was in the 54th percentile, placing them just above the national average. Evidently, the lowest scores were found in the language and reading test, not surprising as English was their second language. In this case, the mean score was slightly below the national average.
…conservative moral values play an important role in the educational achievement of children.
How can we explain the remarkable performance of newly arrived immigrants in a foreign social and economic environment? What social stimulus equips newly arrived immigrants to perform better in school than those who have lived in this country for three or four generations? It appears some factors were parental encouragement, dedication to learning, family pride in educational excellence, a clear realization that education is the most important “instrument” for success in the highly competitive American society, collective consciousness among members of the nuclear family and most importantly, sustaining conservative moral values in the family.
Studies show that conservative moral values play an important role in the educational achievement of children. In my 18 years of teaching at the Alyeska Central School (a former correspondence school affiliated with the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development), my best and most outstanding students were from conservative, religious and traditional families.
On the national level, among Southeast Asians, for example, the Confucian and Buddhist code of behavior (harmonious relationships between parents and children, subjects and rulers, men and women, rich and poor) is a main source of motivation and direction in their life. The family is the central institution in these ethnic groups, where achievement and knowledge are admired and encouraged.
…to deal effectively with the crises in America and Alaska education, we must address the problem of professional educators who serve as frontline social activists.
Nowhere is the family’s commitment to education more evident than in time spent on homework. During high school, Indochinese students spend an average of three hours per day; in junior high, an average of 2.5 hours; and in grade school, an average of 2 hours per day. Research in the U.S. shows that American students study at home about 1.5 hours per day at the junior and senior high school levels. Studies also found that parents who attributed greater importance to fun and excitement than to education had children who achieved lower grade point averages: 2.9 as opposed to 3.14. The result for children of parents who valued material possessions more highly than education were similar: GPAs were 2.66 versus 3.19.
It is essential to remember that school is not an entertainment center, but an institution where teachers share their knowledge with students in the most harmonious, professional and effective way. A teacher is the fundamental “instrument” of education. No brilliant policy, effective administration or sophisticated technology will ever replace the harmony of teacher–student relationships.
If we want to deal effectively with the crises in America and Alaska education, we must address the problem of professional educators who serve as frontline social activists for radical political groups that seek to indoctrinate and brainwash our youth in neo-Marxist ideology — such as today’s popular and divisive “white privilege” and “critical race” doctrines.
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For American schools to succeed, parents, families and communities must become more committed to the basic education of their children. Families, especially, must create within the home an environment conducive to learning by participating in the process so that their children feel comfortable learning, and then go to school willing and prepared to study.
On the other side, schools must reach out to the families and engage them meaningfully in the education of their children – identifying cultural and moral values and educational methods for success that might enhance students’ scholastic achievement. Schools must empower families by directly involving them in the educational process, providing support and training to parents when necessary.
Unconventional means of schooling such as correspondence studies with emphasis on home schooling should continue to be applied effectively in Alaska as a viable and family–controlled educational system that provides students with excellent instruction, a safe study environment and parental involvement that is critical key to children’s educational success.
The views expressed here are those of the author.
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