There is a bill, LD 1045, that would require students to have passing grades to obtain a driver’s license. Actually, it would still allow them to fail a single class. The Sun Journal opposes it (Our View, April 23).

It is well known, but little understood, that public schools are in trouble. I see a similarity with the Titanic — passengers knew there had been a collision, knew there were possible dire consequences, but couldn’t acknowledge the likely outcome until their shoes got wet.

In international testing of 15-year-old students, the U.S. ranks 50th or lower among industrialized nations. Fifteen-year-old Finnish, Korean and Chinese students outperform ours in every discipline tested. In mathematics testing, even students from Estonia, Slovenia and Slovakia outperform U.S. students.

In May of 2010, juniors of Lewiston and Auburn were administered SATs; 50 percent or more, including white, non-Hispanic students, failed to score proficient or higher. Those are the same students who will be presented in caps and gowns this coming June.

When seeking the cause of this failure, the blame can be shared among teachers, administrators, parents and politicians. But, there is another group that leverages the final product — the students. Some of them are blessed by the gods; they are the children of affluent parents and this early benefit presages their future academic progress. But the bulk of those students are the children of low wage or welfare parents.

Their birth needn’t fatally condemn them; any normally developing student is capable of passing all of their high school subjects. No student has to be denied a license, nor a future.

Our children’s bodies are in school, but their minds are not. Their minds are looking toward the future which, for them, is the end of the school day. They are teenagers; their education is more important to us than to them.

As a parent, I have been astounded by what my children and grandchildren could accomplish when the goal was their own idea.

If we could only convince our children of the importance of education; if we could convince them that it will determine whether they are successful or whether they will struggle with low-paying jobs or welfare, then we could properly motivate them to seize learning and they would demand that their teachers impart it.

Unfortunately, we cannot. Children are alien, short-sighted beings. However, within their range of vision are automobiles and the freedom and wondrous possibilities that accompany them. Although we may not be able to convince our children of the importance of an education, we can easily convince them of the importance of an automobile.

Richard Sabine, Lewiston

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