Everyone involved in this debate cares about kids. But What does this “care” mean? I think that in many cases it means that of course we love our own kids and we extend that warmth of feeling to all other kids. But I wonder if we have thought much about what “Care” might imply about what we might all “Do”?
Many would say that Kids are our future. Of course if we lived in a village in the developing world that would be more true than we think. For without children in a society without a state, there is no one to look after the old. But of course this won’t apply to us will it? There will always be the state to look after us – surely?
Many of us of course assume that the State will be here when we are old. Our kids will grow up and have jobs, pay taxes, run government and deal with the problems that life throws our way. After all PEI has been doing this since its early settlement. The many kids of the next generation took up the mantle of running our society. That is how life works isn’t it?
Well neither of these assumptions are valid any more. For the first time in the history not only of PEI, but of our species, there will be dramatically fewer young to succeed us. 2008 will be the year when enrollment in high school will start to decline. If I live to be 80, God forbid, most Islanders will be over 50!
Are you hearing a lot about this? I am not. What can life on PEI be like with so few young to take over from us? Is anyone talking about this?
As you can see, this shift is not far into the future. It is happening now. With so few young, all our young become very precious. All our young have to have the best chance possible to reach their full potential as competent adults. But the picture for most of our young is gloomy. Most will not reach their potential. Most will not be able to make a contribution. You think I exaggerate?
These percentages are the numbers of families who are really struggling to raise their kids. As we all fuss about who owns, who runs and who staffs daycares and kindergartens. most of the children from these families are outside our conversation. They can’t attend. These kids gets the poorest start of all kids on PEI.
The impact of this loss is immense.
About 30% of children arrive in Grade 1 unable to cope, unable to learn and unable to behave. In Grade 1 we have already lost 30% of the few children that we have available for our future. In a society that has stronger family support as in South Korea, only 7% of kids entering school are in trouble.
Teachers and our schools are confronted with behavioural problems that are overwhelming. By Grade 8 the schools begin to lose the battle. Kids become progressively more and more disengaged. This is why PEI has amongst the poorest educational outcomes in Canada.
So then this is what we face. We will barely have enough young in the next generation to take over the role of keeping our society functioning. Most of this small group leaves school unprepared for life.
This is the crisis that we face as a society.
So is there anything that we can do? yes there is. Will we be able to act in time? Maybe. In my nest post we will look at what our choices are. For if we “care” about our children, we have to care about all of them and we have to care enough to act together.
Please follow this link to Chapter 2 that will make the case that simply focusing on making our schools better will not work in time