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Bob McMillanAn Opinion

By Bob McMillan
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The Education of Our Children

Like it or not, we really do live in a global society – not just the economy, but in every aspect from the Internet to worldwide instantaneous news. Another extremely important element of the global reality is the education of our children.

As I did research for this piece, I was appalled by the poor ranking of our 15-year-olds in math, reading, and science. And their poor rankings have been achieved even though we spend one of the highest dollars per student in our public schools. The only country close to our student spending is Switzerland.

Now while these rankings were developed nationally, they are real. Here on Long Island, we far surpass the national performances. At the same time, we cannot ignore the fact that as a nation we rank so poorly. Take a look at what I mean.

In Math, we rank 25th in the world. Hong Kong ranks No. 1 with Japan in third place and Canada at No. 5! And Russia is tied with the United States.

Next, take a look at reading. Here we rank in 12th place with Canada in 2nd place, followed by Hong Kong at No. 7. Australia, Ireland and Switzerland are all ahead of the United States.

Finally, take a look at Science – today one of the most important areas. Here we stand at 20th place behind Hong Kong, Japan, Ireland and South Korea.

No matter how you look at these statistics, our national education system is in terrible shape. Look even further. In Washington, D.C., the funding per student is the third highest in the nation. Yet, Washington students score the lowest among 11 major school districts even when poor school children are compared to equally poor children in other districts. Statistics show that nationally 33 percent of poor school children lack math skills while in Washington, D.C., the third highest spending school district, 62 percent of the children lack math skills!

Now, why should our Long Island children do so well nationally? There are several reasons. First, the school budget money is generally spent well. The dollars achieve results. But, there is more. Families are more together on Long Island. It is one thing to spend money on education, but if children do not get support at home – not just for homework – but of equal importance is the nurturing so necessary for children to develop.

Going back to the global rankings, we had better do something soon to have better results in math, reading and science or we will face even more negatives in the global economy. New scientific developments demand high skills in math, science and reading. If we do not shape up our education, it will not be a child being left behind, it will mean a second-rated nation!

Robert McMillan Website: www.bobmcmillan.net