Green: Families need to instill value of education
By Chris Lawrence, WV MetroNews
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Wall Street Journal analysis of U.S. Census Data found Massachusetts was the most educated state in America with just over 41 percent of adults holding at least a bachelor’s degree. The other end of the spectrum found West Virginia the least educated state with fewer than 20 percent of Mountain State adults who attained a college education.
“That’s the way it is here in West Virginia, it’s been around a long time and it’s somewhat cultural,” said State Board of Education President Mike Green. “But, we can’t just look at that and say, ‘We can’t do anything about that.’ We HAVE to do something about that and we’re trying to bring those values into the school.”
The values Green speaks of are difficult to sell in the hills and hollows of West Virginia. The state would need an attitude shift more toward valuing a college education. Currently, it’s not a high priority. The reasons it isn’t valued vary. Some cannot afford college, despite numerous financial aid opportunities. Others consider higher education a waste of time since their parents didn’t need it. Green, speaking on MetroNews Talkline, said such a lax approach becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.
“Clearly, the children that come from families where it’s very much valued and their parents did have a college education, the probability is much higher they’ll go on to a two year or four year school and get an education,” he said. “But for those who don’t get that value at home, it makes it very difficult for us.”
The lack of value in education doesn’t just translate to the lack of college degree. It goes much deeper. It also translated to a lack of effort in secondary schools.
“We receive these kids every day into our schools and if they’re not being pushed harder by their parents or the parents don’t value education, It makes it very hard for us,” said Green.
The problem isn’t new to West Virginia. The efforts to solve the problem are also not new. The state spends millions of dollars and hours of effort trying to come up with the proper way to motivate students who don’t have motivation from anywhere else. Green said they are never going to give up, but added at some point it falls back on the family.
“You can’t continue to ask education to do everything,” said Green. “We’re feeding them. We’re educating them. We’re taking care of them during the day. We’re doing everything we possibly can, but instilling virtue and instilling the kind of ethics that are needed for a kid to be successful, we have to continue to rely on the family unit.”
The Wall Street Journal reported the education level also translated into income levels. The top 15 most educated states also included the nation’s top average income. The same was true for the 15 least educated states which were among the nation’s poorest. Green said income represented another key obstacle.
“We have a lot of kids who have a college education, but what do they do? They leave the state because there are no jobs,” he said. “We have to focus on the jobs portion of this thing. That’s where it’s most important for Higher Ed, K-12, and the business community to work together to keep our kids here.”