Education is one of those things we, as a society, claim to prize among the most important values. Yet we undersupport it at nearly every level. Preschool is recognized as vital for kids across the board, but especially those “at-risk” because of socioeconomic factors–yet preschool is prohibitively expensive for the people who need it most. Teachers are supposed to be really important, but they’re paid far less than the work they do. (Hey, we do teacher appreciation week, don’t we?) Public education is chronically underfunded. I assume it’s the same everywhere else as it is where I live: a formula which the legislature never, ever fully funds. To the point where, if there’s a surplus, they go down the “tax cut” route rather than consider funding schools. And in the Catholic school system, the formula is usually “pay teachers X% of what local public school teachers are paid.”
Then, of course, there’s the question of parents as the first teachers of their children. We’re all so busy, and there’s never time. And the really tough topics–the hardest ones–are also the hardest to talk about. We know we need to prepare our kids for the challenges to their faith that they’ll face in the real world, but we’d rather protect their innocence as long as possible, which ends up translating as “too long” and “living in a Catholic bubble,” and the end result is that the world ends up forming their view more than we, the parents, do.
A lot of food for thought for us in modern America. If “where your treasure is, there your heart shall be,” what does this reality say about our true priorities? What does it say about what we really believe (as opposed to what we say we believe) about the importance of good education for passing on the faith and living it in the real world?