Editorial: Factory recall

Editorial board members:

• Al Cashion

— Community representative

• Bryce Jacobson

— Newspaper representative

• Bridget Manley

— Newspaper representative

• Chris Nichols

— Community representative

• Joshua Roberts

— Newspaper representative

Our View

State and federal rules, regulations and mandates have created an educational atmosphere in our schools that breeds mediocrity and allows students in need of academic support to slip through the cracks. Churning out students like they’re being made in a factory rather than individually molded is one of many reasons why education is suffering. We’re hoping new community groups designed to augment local education can make a positive difference, but their task is great and only time will tell.

On today’s front page, you’ll find a news story about a new community-based education group designed to build programs and augment educational efforts on behalf of students in the Moffat County School District.

This group, Friends of Moffat County Education, is the second such group to spring within the last year in our community, joining the Maximum Commitment to Excellence organization.

A third group, the Moffat County Booster Club, designed to bolster athletic programs throughout the district, also has been reinvigorated within the last year.

Based on the formation of these groups, the tea leaves seem to indicate education is not only a priority for the community, but also people are willing to sacrifice the most valuable and underrated commodity — time.

There are some in the community and on this editorial board who believe these grassroots efforts toward improving local education will be productive.

Others believe the groups, while meaning well, are merely the equivalent of treating headaches for someone who has brain cancer, that education is plagued by total system failure, and more than patchwork is needed to truly fix the problems.

Time will tell who’s right, who’s wrong.

However, the editorial board finds common ground on diagnosing the maladies of education, both locally and statewide, and ways within our community’s power to fix some of the holes.

That middle ground, to the editorial board, is in two areas:

The first is changing the educational system’s culture of chasing the Holy Grail — recording test scores that don’t draw the wrath of state and federal officials, or an irritable public now dialed into the scores more than ever.

The second: shedding an emphasis on churning out students who perform adequately on assessment tests, and advancing even the students whose grasp on basic fundamentals is tenuous.

These areas — test scores and advancing all students, no matter their skill level — has allowed schools to devolve from places of learning and enlightenment to something closer resembling factory assembly lines.

Or, putting it another way, think of education like a business. The end goal of a business — successful ventures, anyway — is to make money by serving customers.

The final product desired by education seems to be decent test scores and graduating students, whether they’re prepared for life after high school or not.

Just keep that assembly line oiled and churning out new product.

But, here’s the thing about assembly lines: they work until they don’t.

Our society and our community have to ask, are we going to wait until there’s a recall to fix the kinks, bugs and mechanical failures of our factory, or can we do something about it now?

Here’s an example: It’s been brought to the attention of one person who spoke to the editorial board about an elementary school student who, despite obvious struggles with basic reading, writing and comprehension, is going to be advanced to the next grade.

He isn’t getting the needed academic attention at home or school.

Without parents, family or teachers stepping intervening, his education and future now rests with the community. State and federal governments sure aren’t going to be there to help, since they created the system that’s failed him thus far.

That leaves the community.

Who is willing to help correct this oversight?

If we fail the boy now, at such a young, formative age, aren’t we setting ourselves up for more failure and expense down the road?

Shoddy academics today, born and bred in an academic setting that caters to numbers rather than people, only sets the table for his life to be problematic later.

Maybe the boy drops out later in high school.

Maybe he can’t find a job or support himself.

Or maybe the real nightmare scenario plays out: maybe he has a child of his own while struggling early in life, and that child gets raised in the same manner he was, becoming another casualty in the downward spiral our government-backed education system has created.

We need to find ways to help this student and others like him, as a school district and community, for all the obvious reasons.

Of all the issues that infect our community and society, we know one cure, one silver bullet that exists for each of them: education. Given this, the new education groups and their volunteers should be commended.

If they accomplish nothing else, at least the new groups have succeeded in putting education back before the Craig and Moffat County community. Education is in the spotlight and under the microscope again, and there’s a healthy dialogue now about issues, real and practical, rather than a tunnel vision about how to best max out test scores.

The editorial board wishes the new groups and its members well and we hope they can make a positive difference in our schools and for our students. We believe the presence of these groups is a reflection of the quality people in Craig and Moffat County, and their willingness to put skin in the game is admirable.

We can only hope these groups and volunteers are allowed to make a difference, that they’re not handcuffed by state and federal rules, regulations and bureaucracies, and that maybe, just maybe, the officials who can implement real, widespread systemic changes can step away from their failed, antiquated factories and realize this community can shape and support its own school system without intrusion or senseless dictates.

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