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COL Pride in Schools is not taught; it's caught

By Marge Wilson

School Readiness -- what does it mean? It could mean our city council and county board having schools built on land owned. It could mean our school district and board having teachers to teach students in our city and county. It could mean our school district having curricula and supplies students will use in their educational journeys. It could mean our school district and board exhibiting the PS approach to provide the best possible K-12 education.

The PS approach is Pride in School -- pride in going to school and learning. Grasping or understanding Pride in School isn't taught. It's caught. To recognize the uniqueness and individuality of each student is to build up pride in the student.

Schools are to provide students with the opportunity to gain knowledge and skills needed to apply that knowledge and those skills in their lives. Teaching the basics -- reading, writing, math, English, geography, political science, physical sciences, history -- will give students a solid background in preparation to go on to higher education or into the work force and to become productive, self-sufficient individuals.

Some think School Readiness means making all things equal for every student. Making all things equal does not mean all students will be guaranteed equal happenings in their journey through their educational years.

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For example, every student won't play football, hockey, basketball, baseball, volleyball or even a sport. Every student won't have to break a leg when one student does, or be given the same disease or stressful family challenges every time "one" student has these experiences.

However, every student will face challenges and obstacles. Each will have to work through them without our local government arms (county, city, school boards) setting up programs and services (social services, public health, community human service agencies) that will deny the student the pride of overcoming the challenges. Frequently, we read P-B articles naming students who have overcome obstacles to achieve that which is required to graduate from high school. This includes learning English -- the world language, not only our national language. English contributes to equal opportunity for all. English unites.

To some, School Readiness means pushing for programs such as FACES, Baby Steps, First Steps, Baby Ed, to test and evaluate 3-year olds to determine mental health issues -- budget breaking efforts adding extra stress on families trying to adjust for ever-increasing taxes to meet these demands. Would you want this testing for your 3-year-old? Would you want control of your child taken from you and placed in the hands of the government?

Why does government believe it has the best qualifications for raising "your" kids? Do you believe it does? The government cannot regulate the onset of specific behaviors to a specific age any more than it can regulate the onset of puberty. What credentials will be required of the people doing the testing of your 3-year-old?

Will only certain children be flagged as needing intervention? What criteria will be used to make that determination? Who defines proper 3-year-old mental health? It appears that the goal of the government is to provide a regulated, standardized environment for all children and an assembly-line production of individuals without differences and individuality.

School Readiness could mean children grow to the age of 5 by being a child. They play. They discover. They learn to get along with others. They argue. They experiment with things within their reach and sight. They ask questions. They learn the names of hundreds of things. They learn what makes loved ones happy. They learn what disappoints loved ones. They cry. They laugh. They fulfill their calling of being a child! They then begin their K-12 journey when they enter kindergarten at 5.

These students will bring with them, to the classrooms, what some would name "baggage." I prefer to name it "life experiences." Each child is hourly and daily developing "the child within" -- their individuality, uniqueness, personality, strengths, their very being. This, then, is School Readiness.

Marge Wilson is a longtime Rochester resident

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