Schools can and should work diligently to steer students toward better decisions. Teachers can indeed be influential figures in the lives of young people who often need role models. Students must be held accountable and taught that they should consider the impact of their actions on those around them. Some information is important and should be learned by as many as possible. The idea, however, that all kids will or should turn out the same is both misguided and disingenuous. Why should every college bound student be proficient in Algebra 3? How many will actually choose majors or work in professions that utilize higher level mathematics? How much is a college degree worth if everyone has one? How many engineers can America actually employ? The scary thing is that many of those espousing the one-size-fits-all idea seem to truly believe it. Despite the fact that just looking around should tell them that people are unique and that they respond differently to the same stimuli, they have convinced themselves that they can dictate human nature and make us all fit their mold.
The time has come for Oklahoma parents to choose who they want to educate their kids and how they want those children defined. While political demagoguery fills the news, Oklahoma teachers continue striving to provide students learning opportunities and useful information like they always have despite ever increasing criticism and bureaucratic and legalistic hurdles. Schools can provide opportunities for students to grow and learn. Teachers will encourage young people to thoughtfully decide who they will become and what role they will play in our society if political headline seekers and social engineers will get out of the way. Do we really want our kids raised by those in Washington D.C. or at the Capitol building in Oklahoma City or should they be taught through daily conversations between students, parents and teachers talking eye to eye and face to face?
(Bill Nelson is assistant superintendent of Byng Schools.)