Editorial, 9/11: Students Suffer Amid Tenor, Topics Get Attention | Editorial

You might forgive a student for being a little confused.

In the classroom they still get a healthy dose of the three Rs, but outside there is controversy and conflict over an alphabet soup of issues.

The headlines reflect deep divisions in what children need to know about health and sex education, what books should – and shouldn’t – be available in school libraries, how issues such as equity and diversity should be addressed.

If you were a school-going child, it would be hard not to imagine that sex, gender, and cultural politics were the most important aspects of education. It certainly seems like what’s got the attention of adults.

How we educate the next generation is vitally important. There are legitimate issues that need to be addressed. But there are issues where the debate is less about problem solving and more about political grandstanding.

People also read…

  • Nebraska fires coach Scott Frost after dismal 16-31 record
  • Nebraska 2 traffic will begin moving to the new South Beltway interchange southeast of Lincoln
  • Amie Just: Nebraska’s loss to Georgia Southern memorable in every wrong way
  • Quick shots of Trev Alberts’ press conference on the firing of Scott Frost
  • Lincoln woman cited after firing warning shots amid attempted robbery, police say
  • Lucky Lincoln Man Wins Two Scratch Lottery Jackpots in 5 Days
  • One person in critical condition after being shot in Lincoln overnight
  • Man found dead at Platte River State Park believed to be 31
  • John Cook on the radio: Future programming, injury update and Nebraska’s missing slide attack
  • Driver was speeding, had smoked marijuana before Lincoln’s fatal crash, police say
  • Lincoln man, 25, dies after crash in northeast Lincoln on Labor Day, police say
  • Nelnet data breach may have affected more than 2 million student borrowers
  • Lincoln police officer crosses center line, crashes into van near Air Park, police say
  • Live Updates: Nebraska, Creighton fight as volleyball takes center stage in Omaha
  • Shatel: The end of the Scott Frost era is a case of when, not if

The culture wars in education are not going to end anytime soon. There are factions that benefit from ensuring this.

For the sake of our children, however, we should not focus on the loudest voices but rather on the wisest. The discourse – on both sides of the cultural divide – is not really civil most of the time. There are certainly important questions to be decided on these subjects.

This will require discussions, but not to the exclusion of the real basics of education.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease, but if all your attention is focused on the squeaky wheel, pretty soon the rest of the cart is in bad shape.

The day-to-day business of education – teachers supporting students, administrators and school boards supporting teachers, educators and parents supporting each other, and taxpayers supporting the entire system – should not be derailed by fighting for a book that might be on a library shelf or misperceptions of what is being taught in the classroom.

Caught in the cultural crossfire, students watch and wonder what all this conflict has to do with chemistry or arithmetic, English or economics. And students learn – by example – how adults approach important issues.

The community at large, especially landowners who pay the lion’s share of their taxes to support public schools and parents who understand that culture war issues are just a very thin slice of educational life, must send a different message to students and teachers.

This message should be one of continued support for broad efforts to prepare students for educational and social success. And it involves a lot more than seems to be getting all the attention these days.