Why Public Education? … This Independence Day We Take A Look at How Public Schools Strengthen Society by Strengthening Individuals

Posted
7/2/2018
Jon Konen
School Principal

*Posted with permission.

Here is a math equation we can stand behind…

Compassionate Community Support + Strong Public Education = Solid Foundation to our Society

Our forefathers created a feeling of nationalism by bringing people together from diverse backgrounds, religions, and areas of the world. The idea of freedom was prevalent among the young budding colonists in America.

What makes the feeling of freedom so enticing for these colonists…freedom from persecution? They believed they could govern themselves, and severe ties with England. The documents created from these ingenious leaders include the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. In these documents, phrasing and diction were of the upmost importance. Though these documents have had amendments, they have stood the test of time for our country (currently 242 years since independence).

In much the same way, our modern day communities bring all types of students together by providing a free, appropriate, and public education. Our public schools take anyone who walks through the doors, as they do not discriminate. We must have some common beliefs as we go forward….here are four we believe help answer our math equation above: CCS+SPE=SFS!

Create a Strong D(d)emocratic Society

In order to continue creating individuals that will contribute to our democratic society (small "d"), we must have strong public schools. Students, like our ancestors, must take part in deciding the future for themselves, as well as for their future children. We must continue to teach how a democratic society works. We must show, tell, and model how positive contributions and positive action can change a community.

"We must show, tell, and model how positive contributions and positive action can change a community."

Compassionate Community Support

We as American's take care of each other. Unfortunately, we only get to see a lot of this support after a natural disaster, terrorist attack, or school shooting. You see people uniting to help and support each other. We must highlight all the great ways we support each other positively. We all know negative stories sell newspapers and intrigue people.

"As a society, we must continue to flip the story."

As a society, we must continue to flip the story. Instead of highlighting the negative people or events associated with an incident, we should be talking about the sidelined positive stories. We believe American's are compassionate people.

Compassion is an action word associated with empathy. Empathy's definition states that we should try to see from someone else's perspective or point of view in order to empathize with them. Showing compassion takes this concept of empathy one step further. A person who shows compassion sees a need or problem, finds a solution (as best they can), and finally implements a plan of action. Our public schools show compassion and they need to continue highlighting how they are teaching it, as well as how students are taking action.

"Compassion is an action word associated with empathy."

Create Students Who are College and Career Ready

Our public schools create students who are ready for college and the workforce. Schools have high standards and graduation requirements. As you look in most newspapers after each school term, you will see a long listing of students that are making the grade, honor roll. We urge you to track the progress of districts.

We understand not all students are ready for college. We do know that many, if not all, students when they graduate from high schools are ready for some type of career. Many students take preparatory courses that help them take a job right out of high school, or set them up for further training.

Our Public Schools Mirror Our Society's Identity

What we believe in our society is what we ultimately teach in our public schools. The standards that public school teachers use are created by teachers, community members, and state leaders. Each school board helps equip teachers and school leaders with curriculum, personnel, and materials that will support them in ensuring each student receives a free, appropriate, and public education.

In addition to academic standards, schools are tasked to support students in a multitude of ways that were not evident decades ago. Socio-emotional learning, mental health support, trauma-informed practices, medical support, as well as food support can be found in almost all successful public schools.

Recently, the mantra in education states, "We must do Maslow, before we address Bloom's." This means that public schools must meet the basic needs according to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, before teachers can teach using Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning.

"We must do Maslow, before we address Bloom's."

As we see mental health needs increasing, schools are tasked to fill the need. Our public school teachers are learning strategies that support students in the classroom. Private mental health organizations collaborate with schools at an ever-increasing rate. Many schools find space for these organizations in their schools. Yet, public schools are behind the curve on this epidemic.

Through compassionate community support and strong public schools, we can create a future in our communities that provide a solid foundation for our children, and our children's children. Will you help us in celebrating and telling the stories of our public schools? List your ideas for topics to cover below.

Jon Konen

Jon Konen

Jon Konen is a father, husband, K-6 elementary principal, and freelance writer in Great Falls, Montana. He has taught most all grade levels K-6, and has been a K-12 principal of a rural school. As a 5th grade teacher in 2010, he won the Presidential Award for Elementary Math and Science Teaching (PAEMST). As a principal, his school won the 2012 Blue Ribbon Award. In 2018, he won the National Distinguished Principal Award (NDP). He is the author of two guides, An Educator's Guide to Combat Bullying & Bully Prevention and Teacher Evaluation: A Transition Guide to Exemplary Performance. He has authored a children's picture book that will be released in October, 2018 titled, Principal Reads and Benjamin's Visit to the Office…Not the First!
Jon Konen

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