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Wednesday, December 12 , 2018, 10:44 pm | Fog/Mist 49º


Bill Cirone: Public Schools a National Strength

April is Masons of California Public Schools Month. Why don't you drop in for a visit at one near you?

For more than 85 years, the Free and Accepted Masons of California have been sponsoring Public Schools Month in April. This year’s theme is “Public Schools: Keeping our Nation Standing Strong.”

The purpose is to encourage communities to set aside a special time to discuss public schools. Ever since 1920, the goal of the Masons in promoting this month has been to enlist the support of the general public in the cause of public education.

Many Americans are astonished to learn that the American public schools system is still considered the world’s best, despite a host of financial and social problems.

Frosty Troy, a prominent journalist and media commentator himself as founding editor of the Oklahoma Observer, argued that “America is bombarded by exaggerated, distorted, or just plain false reporting and propaganda when it comes to public education.”

“More than 5 million public school students are dirt poor," he pointed out. "Nearly 2 million are latchkey children. More than half a million attend from penal institutions. Another million are drug- or alcohol-disabled ... One in two students come from a single-parent home, one in three is a minority, one in four is poor, one in eight is physically or emotionally handicapped, one in 12 speaks little or no English.

“And yet we focus on test scores and want everyone to be above average.”

Troy ended one article by admonishing that when it comes to public education, “Pride and militant opposition to critics is obligatory” because so much is at stake. We must support our schools and our students and do all we can to help, he says.

That’s exactly where the Masons of California and Public Schools Month enter the picture. It is the perfect opportunity for community members to see firsthand what goes on in local classrooms, and let them draw their own conclusions.

So take a few minutes and visit a local school this month. If it’s been a while since your last visit, you’ll be amazed by the vitality of the dedicated, hard-working professionals who serve our children every day.

Bill Cirone is Santa Barbara County superintendent of schools.

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