As parents and educators and counselors, we must walk a fine line: We want to dream big for our kids -- but we can't be doing their dreaming for them.
In other words, we have to be careful not to want things for them because we would want those things for ourselves.
Thus, we need to be honest with ourselves and our young. Part of doing that is the realization that the major four-year college experience isn't for everyone.
Why, then, should schools act like it is?
Refreshingly, new Richmond County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Frank Roberson is hitting the reset button: He's sending a message throughout the district that teachers, counselors and others need to be careful not to be pushing all students toward the four-year college path -- or, by extension, toward the college entrance exams that stand at the threshold.
Some aren't cut out for it. Some -- if given all the options -- would choose something else.
Absolutely! Let them!
This discussion has come up again recently here, largely in the context of the annual SAT conundrum: Should high schools administer the Scholastic Aptitude Test to all students? And if they do, doesn't that unfairly drag down the schools' average scores?
Isn't that like computing a college football team's average speed in the 40-yard dash by timing the entire student body?
Isn't there a happy medium?
Yes, and Dr. Roberson is onto it.
Like it or not, despite repeated advice to the contrary, SAT scores are compared by society -- among schools, districts and states. So how a district administers the test, and to whom, is a matter that unfortunately reflects back on the schools.
That's not the important consideration here, however. What's important is the kids' lives we're tinkering with. What's important is that they be given the proper guidance as to whether college is right for them -- and if so, what type of college. Technical college, for instance, is not only growing in popularity, but in prestige as well: With technology taking over our lives, tech graduates can pull down some pretty impressive salaries -- and can attract the attention of employers from all points on the map.
Moreover, if we exhort a student on to, say, a liberal arts or research university for which the student is ill-suited, all we've done is set the young man or woman up for failure.
We appreciate Dr. Roberson's attention to this matter and his approach to it. He's onto something very profound and significant.
We also applaud how he has refocused the discussion -- on the kids. It used to be that the debate was centered on how SAT testing made the schools and the district and even the state look. The real point of the SAT dilemma is whether we're doing the students a great service or a disservice.
That, folks, is the real test.
If we focus on that, not only will the schools look good -- they'll be even better.