What standard will you set for your kids’ interest in school?

To keep U.S. living conditions continuing to rise, our workers have to be worth what they cost in a global economy. They have to have a world-class and constantly improving education.
But when Fortune’s Geoff Colvin spoke with school superintendents, he found that their mood was one of frustration. Some parents objected to their kids having to learn algebra, others just aren’t interested in the schools.

Their attitude is showing up in obvious ways. One parent’s bumper sticker says, “My kid can beat up your honor student.” T-shirts bought by parents advertise such messages as, “For Sale: Text books and school supplies, never used,” and “Save energy. Sleep in class.”

It’s even seen on television. In the popular “Two-and-a-Half Men,” Jake does anything he can to avoid doing his homework. But he still gets everything he wants from his parents. You can bet school kids are watching and deciding that playing dumb is OK or funny.

A few parents have always had a contempt for education, but they never thought they could complain to educators that their kids were getting too much of it. Now they do.

The signs of disrespect for education are a cause for worry. It may be that the most important factor shaping our country’s economic future will be what we do individually to show our kids how valuable education really is.

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