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CURRENT STORIES


Concerns about education in our county and in our state

I had a chance to watch some groups perform during the Harrison County Education Fair being held this week at the Meadowbrook Mall (see additional coverage on Page A7.)

If you get the chance, stop by and watch some very talented young people who will be performing through Friday.

As I was watching Tuesday's performance, I couldn't help but think about the debate over the number of days students should be in attendance.

I'm sure there are some people who question having students "out of class" to perform at various functions like the Education Fair.

Those people, unfortunately, are missing out on what education should be about.

Granted, "reading, writing and arithmetic" are fundamentals all students need to be successful, but in today's society there is so much more.

The ability to communicate to other students as well as large crowds. The ability to listen and follow directions. The knowledge that hard work is necessary to accomplish more difficult tasks.

Those are skills that are oftentimes better learned by participating in extra-curricular activities and field trips than by sitting in the classroom and listening to someone talk about it.

The groups I saw had rehearsed their parts; they had obviously worked hard. And then they stood before a large crowd and performed. And just as important, they were able to reap the benefits of their hard work by watching the crowd react and applaud.

It's important that our lawmakers and school administrators don't lose sight on the important role elective classes and extra-curricular activities play in molding intelligent students who are able to function well in this world.

- ANOTHER EDUCATIONAL CONCERN:

State lawmakers are talking about doing away with or limiting the money earmarked for early childhood education.

Several years ago, these same lawmakers mandated school systems begin pre-school-classes for 4-year- oldd. Now, they seem to be backtracking.

The concern is this: With federal and state money, which subsidizes early childhood education through programs like Head Start and child-care waivers, shriveling up under budget constraints, it appears a number of children from low- to middle-class income families will be left behind.

In cases where the parents can't afford private preschool, which in West Virginia would likely be a high percentage, the children wouldn't begin the education process until kindergarten. Of course, they would be significantly behind children whose parents could afford preschool.

Hopefully, our state leaders will find money for the various preschool education programs.

Building a foundation for success requires an early start. As I've mentioned in past columns, though, every time there are budget problems, we find a way to sell our students short.

John G. Miller is managing editor of The Exponent Telegram. He can be reached at 626-1473 or by e-mail at jmiller@exponent-telegram.com