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Government, Politics & Issues

Closing the gap: Equal opportunities come from equitable funding, parental responsibility

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 2, 2013: Solving educational problems extends beyond more money, good teachers and dedicated administrators.

A generation ago, we lost our way, and education became the play thing of politicians, preachers and poachers. I think there needs to be an economic emphasis in the region that includes combining the county and city.

I think the state needs to normalize the funding of education. Why does Kirkwood have iPads, small class sizes and homes priced out of most middle-income budgets? It is because property taxes fund public education and many in our rural and urban areas are left behind because of it.

Kirkwood has AP courses. Even though black kids often have to fight for their seats in some of the honors and AP courses, just the fact that they are offered lifts the bar for all the students who are here.

There are also definite issues of parental responsibility. I will pay $60 for a math tutor for my daughter before I pay $60 for the latest blue jeans. Parental sacrifice is also something that is different and beyond race and into issues of class. All of this plays a part with how well-prepared children are when they enter the classroom and how well they participate once they get there. 

It will be interesting to see if we finally view all the children as our children and see the hope in them instead of building prisons based on fourth-grade test scores.

Antona Brent Smith is a parent, writer, marketing and education consultant and lives in Kirkwood, where she was a candidate for the local school board in April 2013.

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