Students need more than just English and math

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Thank you for reading my letter. A few weeks I ago I explained how the regulations that guide our public school system are not up to date with the most current educational research. In this letter, I will explain why that is.

Presently, regulations dictate that the most important task a school can undertake is to prepare students to read and to do math. Hence, English language arts and mathematics are tested in most grade levels and play a large part in whether a student will pass or fail. In many cases these subjects are so emphasized that other subjects such as science, physical education, music and social studies are considered as less important and thus underfunded or done away with completely.

This is unfortunate for several reasons: first, emphasizing only reading and math scores assumes that only these two aims in education are legitimate. This is several decades behind educational research. We now know that reading and math are two types of eight different intelligences. Hence, a student may not be numbers- or words-smart but may be musically, artistically, scientifically, athletically, people or emotionally intelligent.

Second, by only testing for reading and math, we allow the six other types of intelligences to pass right through the hands of our public school system and to go uncultivated by the one institution every person in the United States must attend, school.

Third, our world does not just rely on reading and math. Athletes dazzle and inspire, artists give vision, scientists discover and create, musicians enrich our lives, leaders do the impossible and the emotionally intelligent keep us all sane. Why, then, would we would ignore cutting-edge research and narrow our schools to just reading and math?

In my next letter, I will lay out some practical steps that we can take in order to allow our school districts to cultivate the vast amount of human potential in our county, state and nation.

Ken Fontenot


The writer is pastor of Bethel Baptist Church and a candidate for N.C. House District 24.