Aspen kids may be out of balance
Dear Editor:The successful first annual Colorado Western Slope College Fair has left me with mixed feelings. I was amazed to learn about the unbelievable number of college choices that exist, the college admissions process, and the competitive admission standards out there. I heard many people this weekend utter what I was already thinking: “Thank God I got in to XYZ college when the getting in was good.”But I was also troubled as I realized that perhaps our “well-balanced” children in Aspen are a bit out of balance. A study, commissioned by the Aspen School District Board in April 2005, compared the ACT/SAT college entrance exam scores of our students with others in the state and country. Among other things, some quite positive, it showed that our higher-tier students are not as academically competitive – in a critical college application metric – as their peers across the country. In speaking with some of the college reps at the college fair, I learned how amazing and competitive the applicant pools are at the 50 or so top-ranked schools.I know we have great kids in the valley, but I wonder if we, as parents, have allowed them to fall out of balance and, in doing so, are denying many of them the opportunity to gain acceptance at top-tier schools. I am not proposing that a Stanford or Ivy League education will create a better person than a CU education, but I think it is fair to say that top schools tend to educate more of the world changers and Nobel Prize winners than less competitive schools. We have some serious issues in our country and in the world, issues that many of us in Aspen feel strongly about: protecting the environment, poverty and health care to name a few. Top school districts in Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, etc. spend upward of $15,000 per student per year. Our school district, by Colorado law, can only spend about $8,000 per student.So, what’s the answer? We need to continue to improve our programs and provide our faculty with as many tools as possible. We need to pass the upcoming ballot issues, so that our students and faculty have improved facilities and additional dollars for programs. Finally, we need to do our jobs as parents to help our children get the most they can out of their primary and secondary educations. We should consider a bit of rebalancing – nothing that will interfere with the development of the young adults we are proud of, but some increased focus, in our lives and particularly at home, on academics and intellectual pursuits so that our children will become truly exceptionally balanced young adults.If we can do this, a higher number of our children may have the interest and the opportunity to pursue greater intellectual challenge in college and beyond. Who knows – a few of them might be invited back to the Aspen Institute as speakers someday.Michael WoodrowAspen
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