The underlying problem is attitude. In the 15 years I have lived in Newton County, I have noticed a prevailing attitude of "getting by" rather than achieving. This attitude can be readily found in our adult population and is learned by our children, even though it is not taught to them. Just as children learn to speak with a Southern accent from the adults around them, they also learn behavior and attitudes. Changing this attitude of getting by in our youth will take an effort by all of us. And it will take time, perhaps a generation.
We need to teach our youth that education and especially achievement in education is more rewarding than television stardom or other social notoriety. They need to know that achievement in education benefits them both financially and intellectually. We, all adults, need to teach them to be the best they can be. We must encourage them to achieve.
Our teachers are an integral part of this education. They need to establish challenging goals for students and encourage them to achieve them. Parents need to support teacher efforts by showing respect for them. We, as friends and neighbors of students, need to show our respect for teachers and education. Do we speak respectfully of our schools and teachers in front of children? Do we congratulate our kids and our neighbor's kids on their academic accomplishments? We need to.
How about having our high schools involve their student bodies in achieving higher SAT and Act scores than they did the previous year. Challenge them to beat this goal just as coaches challenge teams in sports. Challenge each class to better the mark of the one that preceded them.
Here's another idea. Increase our publicity of academic achievement. Look at the coverage devoted to sports in our news, especially newspapers, versus the coverage provided academic/intellectual achievement. Our local newspapers devote a section to sports wherein there is complete coverage of outstanding players with prominent action photos. How about starting a section for scholastics?
Each of us, whether parent, teacher, neighbor or newspaper, as a citizen of Newton County, needs to do resolve to do his part.
We need to do it now.