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Chapman: Education is a primary responsibility of the state
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The education of our rising generation should be our second greatest priority.

Sen. Aaron Osmond threw out a bombshell of a suggestion "to re-evaluate what we expect of parents and the public education system" ("Utah educators question pitch to end compulsory school attendance," Tribune, July 17).

He said that we Utahns need to restore the expectation that parents are primarily responsible for the educational success of their own children.

He suggested that we treat education as an opportunity and not as an obligation. He wanted the state to stop dictating the number of hours that a student had to be in class and allow teachers to send misbehaving students home.

Although parents are the most important factor in a student's success at school, they are not the only factor. In our modern society, parents are sometimes not involved in the student's life.

I know of some grandparents who are mainly responsible for a student's success. A school can solve problems that may develop in children without proper parental supervision. The end result is a better and safer society.

I believe that one of the reasons for our free public education system is because Thomas Jefferson argued for it. The dream of Thomas Jefferson was to create and trust a government that is for and by and of the people whose "minds must be improved to a certain degree."

Without a compulsory education system, our government would be at risk and our technological achievements wouldn't have happened.

Compulsory education is important to the past success and future success of our country, the greatest nation on earth.

A new study in the news this week shows that with a good education system, upward mobility and the realization of the American dream is more attainable. Salt Lake City is one of the top cities in the study that showed that lower-income students had one of the best opportunities to reach higher-income status (over 11 percent).

One main reason is that our education system is relatively good (although I can argue that it can and should be better).

Our compulsory education system helps our state's economy. Our children are our greatest resource. One only has to look at Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan to realize that even without mineral wealth, an area's success can be without limits when its people are well-educated.

Another of Thomas Jefferson's quotes is: "all the children of 10. 11. & 12. years old are, as they ought to be, at school: and, if they are not, so much the work is the system; for they will be untaught, and their ignorance & vices will, in future life cost us much dearer in their consequences, than it would have done, in their correction, by a good education." (Jan. 14, 1818 to Joseph C. Cabell)

I couldn't have said it better.

I end with a very important quote:

"Next to the worship of our God, we esteem the education of our children and of the rising generation. For what is wealth without society, or society without intelligence. And how is intelligence to be obtained — by education. It is that which forms the youthful mind: it is that alone, which renders society agreeable, and adds interest and importance, to the worship of God." (From an oration delivered by LDS Church leader Sidney Rigdon on July 4, 1838.) People should read more history.

George Chapman was president of his children's school advisory committee (in the 1980s) and on several school district boards evaluating schools. He lives in Salt Lake City.

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