I am concerned for America's future. I constantly see the question: "Are our teachers failing America?" But we should also ask: "Are our students failing America?"

There are problems within America's schools and with some of its teachers. But I also believe that there is an emerging problem with some (not all) students within those schools — an increasing trend toward America's youths lacking a desire for an education.

You can teach kids all you want, but if they are going to choose not to learn, not to show up for class or not to follow the rules, they aren't going to succeed no matter what the teacher does.

What happens in the business world if an employee does these things? He or she is fired. Yet we tend to blame everything that's wrong in school on everyone but the students. They need to start doing their part.

I have seen, and have been in class, with students who would rather talk to their friends on their cellphones than take in what their teacher is presenting. No matter what the teachers said, these students didn't care.

What is going to be more valuable to America — the conversation with the friend about prom, or the material the teacher is presenting? Then parents complain if their son's or daughter's cellphone gets taken away. My question for the parents is: "Did you have a cellphone in the classroom when you were in school?"

In the end, what happens? Students often are pushed through the system because the school doesn't want to have a poor graduation rate or fears some sort of frivolous lawsuit. Sometimes, the student drops out. And who gets the blame for the student not being prepared for the real world or dropping out, even though the student chose not to learn? The schools.

Those choosing not to learn are being disrespectful to their classmates and to taxpayers. Their disruptions interfere with the learning of others. All the time teachers spend disciplining, giving out makeup work, etc., could be used to create better lessons and help those who want to learn. It is hard to implement "No Child Left Behind" when children are choosing to stay behind.

I will never forget the day I was scolded for wanting to learn. A student was disrupting class, and I finally spoke up. It was the end of the year; I was sick of it. I finally said to the student: "The teacher is not your baby sitter. Knock it off." Of course, I got in trouble for being inappropriate. Since when is wanting to learn inappropriate? Why did I get in trouble? Because with all the lawsuits these days, teachers are afraid to discipline students. And students know this.

Lastly, students choosing not to learn are wasting taxpayer money. By choosing not to learn, it is as if they were flushing the money down the toilet. Think of all the other things this money could be used for. This may be extreme, but maybe we need to start fining students when they choose not to learn so they can repay the American taxpayer. We need to start somewhere.

Students, please turn off the cellphone, log off Facebook for a little bit and choose to accept an education. The government gets away with way too many things because too many people are either uneducated or too caught up in sports, Hollywood or social media to know what is really going on. The future of America relies on you. You write your own history.


Scott Kielkucki is a native of Brooklyn Park and a graduate of Champlin Park High School and St. John's University. He currently teaches economics and American history at an international school in Beijing.