If we take a look at our condition and the educational opportunities available, it is evident that we need to make serious improvements to bring ourselves up to national standards.
We rank 48th in global education, and our teacher salaries are in the lower tier of $ 40,000 to $ 50,000 per year. The top level is $ 70,000 to $ 85,000.
I am a former student and businessman who started first year in Arkansas Public Schools, and later graduated from the University of Arkansas.
Over the years of traveling and interacting with business leaders and professionals, I have come to the conclusion that quality education should be a priority for all of us. I believe most of our residents want high quality public schools, but only a few of our cities have them.
Whether education is a trades school or a doctorate, quality is the standard we must strive for.
I graduated from Norphlet High School and the University of Arkansas. I have BS and MS degrees in Geology, my graduate transcript is full of A’s, and I have been successful in my profession.
You might be wondering, with this resume, why would I say our state should focus on education?
It’s simple. I managed to get a quality education despite the obstacles I encountered, and I was very lucky to do so. I came within a hair’s breadth of leaving college because I wasn’t ready to take college courses.
In high school, I did nothing other than go to class. I had coaches for several classes and the homework was minimal. The curriculum was a little more than reading, writing and arithmetic. No foreign languages, chemistry, physics or college preparation courses.
Of course, that has changed since I attended high school in Arkansas, and our public high schools are doing a lot better than they were years ago, but overall we’re not keeping pace and still are. far behind schools in most states. We are not there yet, and in some school districts we are years behind.
The proliferation of charter schools is due to the fact that our public schools do not meet today’s national standards. We must do better.
I enrolled in the University of Arkansas, and the first semester in the College of Arts and Sciences, my classes were German, Chemistry, University Algebra, English, and ROTC.
After a few weeks of class I knew I was overwhelmed, and when the four week test results came out I was in shock. I had 2 F, 2 D and a C in ROTC. If those grades didn’t improve, I would be on probation at the end of the semester, and the next semester, unless I had a GPA of 2.0, I would be a failure.
Thinking about failure, I decided to study seriously, but not just one or two hours a week. I spent every available moment studying, trying to catch up.
Since I didn’t have a foreign language or chemistry, I was really late in these classes. I was the only first year student in my German class. Ten week tests took place and I had obtained a C in English and algebra. However, even though my German and Chemistry scores were D, I knew that if I could get a B in both finals, I could skip probation.
The semester tests arrived, and I had memorized German grammar to the point where I did a B for the final and a C for the course. Then in my chemistry final I finished the test earlier and my teacher checked my scores while I stood there. I did a B of a point, and he said I didn’t exactly have a C average, but since I had a B in the final, he would give me a C.
It was my first semester in college. When I started my sophomore year, my roommate and I looked through last year’s directory. Out of 120 freshmen in our dormitory, almost a third did not return to school for their second year.
I was incredibly lucky to stay in school.
The rest of my college was similar to first year with one exception. When I was in the second year of the second semester, my father was killed in a car accident, and without any funding I had to work at the university museum, the bookstore and I was the student director of Bough Commons.
I barely made it, but as a senior I had to take over 20 hours each semester to graduate. I got a grade of 2.3 and got a bachelor of science degree in geology.
However, with this low point, and because there had been a downturn in the oil industry, I couldn’t find a job.
Vertis and I decided to get married, and I would go back to college and get a second degree in mechanical engineering, and she would go into first year. We did, but after three weeks of engineering school, I panicked.
Engineering was filled with math lessons – my weakest subject.
As a last resort, I walked over to the geology building and asked Dr Quinn, the head of the department, if he could get me into a graduate school. I knew it took three points to get admitted, but I was desperate.
Dr Quinn shook his head as he listened to me.
“Richard, if I can get you into graduate school, you’ll be on probation, and if you don’t do three points this semester, you’ll be missing. You haven’t had a three-point semester in four years of college. , and four week testing will come in a week. “
“Dr Quinn, I’d like to try, if you can get me in.” “
“Okay, Richard. Let me see what I can do.”
Dr Quinn got me into graduate school and I signed up for 15 hours of graduate school. I borrowed notes from class members, and the following week I rarely slept more than three hours a night. I did all of C on those first tests, but by the end of the semester I had brought them back to As.
I love geology, and have done all of the Ace courses in geology.
When I was hired by Exxon, the Regional Director of Exploration reviewed my transcript and asked, “A big change between undergraduate and graduate studies. What happened ? “
“I got married.”
Well, this is my story, and every time I look back over those years I realize that my pre-college preparation was the root of the problems I was having.
Our state must do better, and we have the means to do it.
With a fund surplus of $ 500,000,000 last year and another surplus of $ 286,000,000 this year and a tax cut of $ 500,000,000 mostly for the rich, we could certainly afford to raise our funds. education standards.
What if we had given $ 500,000,000 to spend on education? Maybe then some of our teachers wouldn’t have to buy school supplies out of their own pockets, and since teachers are professionals, we could increase their salaries just like other professionals.
Richard Mason is an author and lecturer. He can be contacted at [email protected]