Johnny Hunt column for Jan. 14

First Posted: 1/14/2009

The inauguration this coming Tuesday of Americas first African-American president somehow seems to be appropriate from a timing standpoint given that it comes during the week that the nation celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day. That, of course, is the national holiday created in memory of the man whose tremendous leadership and contribution to the cause of civil rights cause us to stop and reflect on the issues of civil rights and equality.
It was August 23, l968 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. when Dr. King spoke the words that have lived through history. He said at that time I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
Since education is the ultimate civil right and the great equalizer, each child has the right to be educated. It can ensure that every child, through that education, becomes not only a strong student but also a well-adjusted person and contributing member of society regardless of gender, race or socio-economic status. It is the right thing to do for our students and necessary for our community and nation.
It is vital that all students receive quality instruction in a rigorous, relevant and meaningful curriculum and they must be held to high expectations. Our staff takes responsibility for their success and they continue to work to make that happen. Not all of our students succeed and, as is the case nationwide, some of this lack of success takes place along gender, race and socio-economic lines. That is the reason for the existence of No Child Left Behind legislation which insists that all children must be successful.
There is no doubt that our community supports an effective education for our children. Every employer wants the best employees available. The availability of a large number of skilled employees helps our community to grow economically. That helps to emphasize the importance of having well-prepared students regardless of their backgrounds and other status.
Nationally, education contributes immeasurably in developing citizens who will recognize that our society is composed of people with different backgrounds rather than people belonging to specific subgroups. Our children need to know who they are and what makes them special. They also need to understand that differences based on gender, race and socio-economic status are merely things that makes each of us special.
Its important to know that those things that unite us serve to make us a nation. Thus civil rights unite and strengthen us as does equality. An excellent education system can help to make it happen by being responsive to student differences and is mindful of the ultimate goals of education. It is also passionate about making quality education available to all students regardless of gender, race or socio-economic status. I believe that our system is responsive, mindful and passionate and, while we may not be where we need to be, were working on it. The memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. provides us with a beacon. We need to keep that beacon in sight.

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