All across Missouri people are talking about taking back their communities. These people feel that things have simply gotten out of hand. In the first place, the whole business of kids dropping out of high school is reason enough for some. They understand that education is the path to improving one’s station in life, and walking out on the opportunity, for them, is unacceptable. These people know how hard life is, and turning down the chance to succeed is a big mistake.
And beyond that, just taking a look at the statistics on poverty in Missouri put out by the Community Action Partnership is enough to make you understand the seriousness of their position. The information this group has gathered is staggering. For example, did you know that more than 9,000 children dropped out of public schools in the 2002-03 school year, or that 25 teens give birth every day? In fact nearly 15,000 infants in 2003 were born to mothers who had less than 12 years of education.
We need to stop and ask ourselves where we are going in this society. After all, this is the 21st century when our children and grandchildren will have to compete globally for their place in the world. We certainly cannot believe the world will be as forgiving of them as their parents and grandparents are. If these people cannot manage their families, then we have no choice but to help them. We have got to beef up the educational system to meet the challenge of informing parents of the new issues that face their progeny.
Their children will not be competing with people in their neighborhoods for jobs at fast food restaurants. These jobs will not be enough to sustain them. Already, according to the Partnership’s figures, it requires a salary of more than $11 an hour to rent a two-bedroom apartment in this state.
This slip-shod method of parenting is not working. And with the resources and institutions that we have available, we can certainly do better. For some insane reason, parents and grandparents have allowed children to become the heads of families. It is no longer parents who are in charge. I suspect this is, in large part, because of television. Unfortunately, so many people are mesmerized by celebrities and entertainers that they become real people of influence to them, and these strangers are allowed to hold sway over their children.
Furthermore, too many parents have become child worshipers, and some psychologists have allowed them to get away with this under the misconception that this is the way to love their kids. Common sense should dictate to any parent that if you truly love your children, you want what is best for them. Of course, you will want them to get an education so they can build a more successful life. You will want them to learn and practice self-discipline so they will stay out of trouble. Any so-called "counselor" who suggests otherwise obviously does not have the best interests of your children at heart.
Does anyone really believe that a teenager is ready for motherhood or fatherhood? For goodness’ sake, they are still children themselves. And what about the newborns? Don’t you think they should have experienced and responsible adults as parents?
Children in other countries of the industrialized world are getting an education so they can become leaders of the world. They are becoming mathematicians, scientists, doctors and educators. So, undoubtedly, most Americans desire to work in the service industry because they will be limited by education.
There is no one to blame but us. For many years, children considered it a privilege to go to school, and parents saw to it that they went. And because it was beneficial to society that it had an educated citizenry, it employed truant officers whose duty it was to see that children were in school. But then as a people we became sophisticated beyond our capacity to absorb it, and so children are allowed to do what they please.
And so, in spite of the irresponsible parents, some people are working around the clock to take their communities back. Some people are building private schools so they can educate their children without the foolishness that so often goes on in public educational institutions. These folks don’t want to take on the job of parenting the entire student population. They are willing to take parenting classes so that they can be better parents to their children.
On the other hand, if this is the kind of world some want to live in, it’s still a free country. All of us have the opportunity to make it what we want it to be. In any case, if this is your world then you're welcome to it.
You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.