WASHINGTON D.C.—With a new Administration in power and Congress always trying to justify their jobs to the voters, we now find ourselves with the perennial question that has faced our nation for over 40 years now. What is the answer to solving the nation’s education crisis in our public schools? Conservatives have a mantra they’ve been using for as many years as I’ve been on this earth. They say that the teachers’ unions in the United States are far too powerful and are making their job security more important than educating our youth. That’s a simplistic cookie cutter answer, which rallies the base, but the problems are deeper than that.

Liberals say we don’t spend enough money per child in America on educating our school kids and that we use more funds to incarcerate inmates. That too is typical fodder to get the party-faithful in the voting booth, but again that answer also falls short of what is really the problem. This Administration and the current education secretary advocated and supported the firing of over two dozen teachers in one school district last year whose students consistently failed. There was not one word of support from the political right for a liberal and sometimes hated president, who did the very thing they have never done, while their own candidate was in charge of the nation. That proves the answers we need are greater than what one side or the other claims to be the solution to this serious problem.

Perhaps parents need to parent again. When I was a kid in school, my parents spoke with my teachers long before the report card came around. They were just as busy as parents are today, yet they felt it was their responsibility to make sure their children were given a proper education. My parents had a respect for our education and would take steps to ensure we were learning in school. They would make sure their job as parents came first even if it meant switching us to a teacher with whom we were able to get along with better, studying before we were able to turn on the TV and enjoy a bit of entertainment, taking us to the public library (which was at that time over 40 miles away from our rural home) or asking us questions and making sure we were actually learning something.

My parents didn’t use politics or whoever was in the White House to argue why we should learn. They forced us to respect every occupant in the White House and every occupant in our classrooms when we went to school. Perhaps I’m giving away my age by making this statement, but all of the children, even the so called bad kids that I went to school with, had parents who made it their mission to make sure their child learned and didn’t simply put that pressure on the teacher, who had dozens of other kids who needed time and attention as well.

Whether it’s smaller classrooms, firing inadequate teachers or spending more money, I’m certain that every good teacher would tell you that the best students are the ones whose parents are involved with their children’s academic future long before there is a crisis. Not the parents who use political arguments to justify why they have children who are not learning, dropping out of school or are on drugs and/or misbehaving in school. It’s a parent’s job to make certain that their children become productive members of society, not a child’s teacher. Fred Astaire once said, “People expect kids to have manners without ever seeing them.” What kind of parent are you?

Please pray for our troops who are in Afghanistan and Iraq fighting the terrorists. Also, please remember their families here at home as the holiday season approaches.