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A famous president once said, "Give me six hours to cut down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe." (Abraham Lincoln) The premise of this quotation is not merely talking about trees or their demise, instead it speaks to the very essence of a nation executing careful, meticulous planning for every faucet of its governance, judicial, legislative, and executive in regards to education and all of the issues that are relevant to its stakeholders.
If we are going to "tackle" our nation's educational challenges and succeed with some degree of "progressivism" and accountability, then it appears that we must allocate a good amount of our resources, big ideas, and labor towards the planning of such issues that even today present certain challenges for our nation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Household Data Annual Averages, our data gathering methods basically have not changed since 1942, except for the changes in 14 year old workers and then 16 year old workers in 1947. Today that would impact 18 year old workers. While the data was very intriguing, the purpose of this article is not to report on data, but merely to utilize the facts to lay a foundation or baseline for the purpose of this article. Have we as a nation made adequate preparation within education so that the entire framework beginning from Early Child Care to Postsecondary Education could be realistically supported within the framework of our social programs, immigration policies, and economic progress?
While our Major Economic Indicators would factor in every ethnic population because each demographic group is included in a consistent census across the board, it appears that we must devote more planning into securing the opportunities for each group culture to succeed. The Indexes that factor into Consumer Price, Employment and Productivity Costs, Producer Prices (Import and Export,) as well as Employment Statistics affect the tax-free back-to-school shopping, school lunch programs, and other entitlement programs with which the nation utilizes to identify the socioeconomic needs of families.
It is in this light that we must arduously protect the rights of those most vulnerable in the educational system, and yes, sometimes it may even include those in the postsecondary institutions. Another former President once said, "Protecting the rights of even the least individual among us is the only excuse that the government has for existing."(Ronald Reagan). If we are to shift the manner in which we identify students for services, then we will have to eventually change the indicators that are used in so many public and private institutions. It was extremely gratifying to read of Early Learning reformation changes that will not only impact Head Start, but will also initiate new or innovative ways of teaching the most vulnerable within the framework of education.
The greatest challenge with this new program will be the need to want to fall into the same educational mode as "everything else." Since the program is in its planning phrase, this would be an opportune time to look at the data collected from the current nationwide census, especially in those areas where the program would be piloted, and then design a program that not only meets the needs of the demographics, but also catapults our nation globally. We have always been a nation whose thoughts were bigger than our boundaries. Incentives and consideration should be included to scaffold immigration policies, economic hardships, and other civil legislative issues. The first phase for the DREAM Act should begin with the parents of students simply because this is the first place where they are truly vested within any community. Education is mandatory. The path should not begin at postsecondary education, but instead with VPK and other Early Child Care programs so that by the time the student is graduating, the parents have already completed a pathway towards citizenship while investing through various aspects or benchmarks that would be required along the way. It seems like a more cohesive, humane way to integrate immigration reform through education instead of debating whether the student deserves federal funding because of the undocumented legal status of their parents.
Another aspect would be the African American community. Too often during a recession, this demographic is usually hit hardest with housing and unemployment issues. Safeguards should be included from Pre-K through postsecondary education for students from certain demographics. Work Study blocks should be allocated because the chances are that higher education would be unlikely if the students could not themselves pay for their college education. More also needs to be done within the traditional public school systems so that multiple scaffolds are put into place to allow these students access to high quality, advanced placement classes. If Dual Enrollment was spiraled down to middle school students so that that weighted learning and service learning aspects were moduled, then students would have an easier time transferring to upper-leveled classes. The safety net would also be extended for students, who often times, are not identified and given the same opportunities as their counter-peers. If we are going to continue on the path of greatness, then we must not only be opened to new ways of governing, but also new ideas so that we will always be able to compete globally. Another famous president said, "We do not want an America that is closed to the world, we want a world that is open to America." (George H.W. Bush)
Finally, we must begin to utilize our resources so that we allow educational institutions the flexibility to make the changes necessary to accommodate the life-styles and socioeconomic adjustments that are relevant to the lives of individuals today. Many higher learning institutions within the state of Florida have accepted the challenge by Rick Scott, the governor of the state, to brainstorm and collaborate with various agencies in order to implement condensed courses that would shorten the length of study time, thus positively impacting the amount of costs that would be incurred by students at conventional universities. So while 2013 is a promising time for education in so many states across our nation, it is also a time for reflection, change, accountability in preparation, and skillful execution. After all, as our current president, Mr. Barack Obama has said, "We must be the change that we seek."