Virginia has its own standards of learning so it’s really hard to compare how we match up with everyone else in the United States and around the world.
But even by Virginia’s standards of learning (the SOLs), reading scores are down. Every fourth child reportedly failed to pass the grade-level reading test, and the statistical results were worse among elementary and middle school students. About 3 out of 10 students didn’t pass the state math exam either. If you lack reading skills, and are challenged by math, how are you able to think very well?
Some may say it’s an improvement that we have state-wide standards. But it’s not acceptable that we have a balkanized set of conflicting and variable nationwide standards.
We compete in an ever shrinking world. Our internet preeminence is up against stiff competition from Chinese tech companies Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu, and Alibaba’s US IPO was described recently as “a wake-up call for U.S. tech.” It should also be a “wake-up call” for educators, parents and students.
Our standard of living depends on our ability to export goods and services, and really to out-think our competitors.
We need a standard by which we can agree what Johnny knows about “the three Rs,” to be able to compare him with everyone else, and to devise an educational strategy to redress whatever lack of proficiency Johnny may suffer in Reading or Math. Continue reading
No one is originally from the United States – except for the endangered population of Native Americans that have survived this nation’s repeated efforts to wipe them out.
Everyone who is here today came from someplace else, fleeing hostile governments, uninhabitable lands, or drawn here because of a belief in the promise of America.
When I was a kid, one of my heroes was Igor Sikorsky, an engineering genius who made flying machines and, because he was inspired by DaVinci’s hand-drawing of a machine lifted by a rotating disk, set upon the task of creating the helicopter. Igor came to America from Russia because he had to flee the Bolsheviks.
Albert Einstein had to flee Europe because he was Jewish and met some resistance to becoming an American Citizen. We remember this brilliant physicist, ensconced at Princeton, partly concealed beneath an unruly mane of whitening hair. But there were those who weren’t sure he should be a citizen.
The Flannerys came from County Mayo to New York for reasons since obscured by the passing generations. My maternal grandmother left Ireland for the United States at 6 years of age. These immigrants from the sod met with some resistance because they were both Irish and Roman Catholic. Continue reading
Thomas Jefferson: “All men are created equal”
When Thomas Jefferson penned the words in our Declaration of Independence in 1776 that “all Men are created equal,” he stated what the Continental Congress believed to be the proper condition of men in the colonies in relation to the offenses suffered under Great Britain.
Unfortunately, all men were not treated as “equals” within the several colonies either.
Even after our federal constitution with its Bill of Rights, slaves and women enjoyed no rights, unalienable or otherwise. They were property.
The Declaration was an unfulfilled promise of equality.
A former U.S. Senator said: “The enlargement of liberty for individual human beings must be the supreme goal and the abiding practice of any western society.” Continue reading