The schools’ mission is to provide students with the knowledge and skills to be responsible, productive, and happy citizens.
How’s that for a mission statement? It’s concise and complete in one sentence. Let’s look at each requirement.
Responsible: To be responsible citizens students need to understand our Constitution, how the three branches of government work, and where they fit in a representative system. That’s called “civics”. They need to know the history and geography of the US and the world around it. They should have some idea of how other forms of government such as parliamentary systems, monarchies, and dictatorships work. They need to understand the current world situation. They need to know how the economy works and how to manage their own finances. They should also have a sense of pride in their country. A nation that hates itself will ultimately destroy itself.
Productive: This means students have the knowledge to pursue the career of their choice, whether it’s a profession, a skilled trade, or building the family business. Right now the emphasis is on STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) to which I’d add another M for medicine because the country needs doctors. STEM isn’t all though. The USA needs researchers and teachers in other fields too, it needs business leaders and entrepreneurs, and it needs skilled tradespeople. If we want to recapture our industrial leadership manufacturing needs machinists, welders, metal workers, robotics programmers, and composite materials workers. Construction will always need carpenters, electricians, masons, painters, welders, and plumbers. Transportation doesn’t run without mechanics for cars, trucks, trains, planes, and ships. Much of the work done by skilled trades can’t be offshored. You can write computer code on the other side of the globe but you can’t fix my car engine from over there. Everyone must have the “good oral and written communication skills” demanded by employers.
Happy: Huh??? The three words “pursuit of happiness” found in the Declaration of Independence were not an accident. The founders of this country wanted it’s citizens to be happy. Obviously happiness can’t be taught because it involves personal interests. Being prepared for a career will certainly help most people. Beyond that the best schools can do is to offer a wide range of curricular and extracurricular opportunities so that students will know what’s out there. Students should have some appreciation of our cultural heritage through art, literature, music, and theater. They should be able to participate in athletics and sports. They should have the chance to be involved in student government, chess clubs, robotics competitions, and other extracurricular activities. Some schools also sponsor community service projects to build citizenship. All of these things could develop into lifelong interests that promote happiness for the individual.
Did I miss anything? If you think so you probably want the nanny state school. It’s down that dark hall to the far left.