The root of the problem begins at home, and carries through to our education system and likely can’t be corrected in the later years of life nor in the workforce, unless somehow each of us gets very serious about addressing several key issues. First, basic core values are learned at home from parents, siblings and a strong family unit. We can’t change the number of adults in society who lack an appreciation for those values and are now bringing up their own children in less than desirable conditions. Therefore society as a whole needs to do far more to counteract and instill a new sense of morality. It starts, in my opinion, with a commitment to return to our community churches and a new appreciation for a sense of community that can only be created in that congregational environment. Recognizing and accepting help is never easy but it’s the only way I know of to reestablish our traditional values and reinforce the lessons from home and school.
Second, our education system needs to be overhauled. In New York, only 57 of 100 ninth graders will graduate from high school. Many of those children who didn’t graduate, dropped out years earlier but hadn’t made it official until they were older. Far too much emphasis is placed on Regents testing and pushing students to higher postsecondary education. In 1973 a high school diploma was the passport to the American Dream and 72 percent of the workforce had no more than that high school diploma. Today, just 41 percent of the workforce has no more than a high school diploma, yet we have lost our global leadership in education attainment and achievement. As a country we rank far down on the list of other countries that encourage vocational education training.
In the past it wasn’t so much what you knew but how much you were willing to adapt and learn. A good high school education gave one a solid foundation from which to build. When one thinks about how quickly technology is changing our world it’s hard to imagine anything learned in school today other than a strong commitment to cradle to grave learning and a disciplined work ethic will provide a foundation for careers in the future.
I’ll continue to use this platform to voice my concerns and I encourage you to share your views with me and others. I will add your thoughts to my column each week so that together we can find ways to reestablish the values that, as a country, have been at the core of our existence. If we are to improve the future for the generations to come we must recognize that we did this to ourselves and only we can correct what has been a long and steady decline.
Dan Alexander is publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.