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Cafe Society to discuss nation’s education system

By Staff | Apr 4, 2017

SHEPHERDSTOWN – In its next session on April 4 the Cafe Society will focus its discussion on our national education policies and the extent to which they are causing serious social, economic, and even political problems. Public education in America touches our lives in many ways but even that extensive system, which provides the essential renewal from one generation to the next, is in turmoil.

While education is largely a State and local responsibility, funded in most cases by property taxes and special levies as needed, the Federal Government is an increasingly important player as well. As the stratification of our society accelerates and the gulf between affluent and poorer, influential and disadvantaged segments widen, competing educational systems all too often become part of the defining elements that differentiate social, economic, cultural, and ethnic groupings. This is much more than just the “public vs. private” school identities that most of us grew up with. Today we have communities trying to provide an effective and efficient “K through 12” education while essential resources (including the student base) are being fractured into public, parochial, private, home and now, (most likely) charter or voucher schools. The political rational now being advocated by the new Trump Administration is to provide parents with a choice. But it begs the question: “What about giving our nation a choice?” Before we go too far down this road, we have to anticipate how the U.S. will fare in this increasingly globalized world, when only small portions of our society will be competitively viable and able to live the kind of quality life that we have come to expect as Americans.

These informal discussions are held from 8:30 to 10 a.m. each Tuesday morning in the Rumsey Room of the Shepherd University (SU) Student Center. They are an integral part of the SU Life Long Learning Program and are intended to facilitate a dialog on current issues between the students and older members of our community. There are no fees or registration requirements.

Cafe Society facilitator, Mike Austin said, “It is only normal (to be expected) that parents will want the best quality of life possible (including social status and security) for their children and to pass on the results of their own hard work and in many cases sacrifice. It is a great source of satisfaction and recognition as a worthy goal to be a good parent and seek advantage for your kids. But our children emerging as young adults from their increasingly disparate worlds will have to share the societal elements that bind us together as communities aggregated into counties, states and finally hopefully a cohesive nation. They won’t be able to survive, certainly not thrive in an increasingly hostile world where ‘separate’ certainly won’t be ‘equal’ and opportunities are a privilege, not a right. It is hard to believe how we have managed to ignore and failed to appreciate the important rationale behind the famous “Brown vs. Board of Education” Supreme Court precedent – not in terms only of black and white, but acceptance and its alternative social isolation. These are our children’s formative years of maturation culturally as well as intellectually. They need to emerge as young adults sharing common language (helpful if they know more than one), social skills, and the same mores, yes even the same ethics.”