ROSE NOLEN: Too many kids are going to jail when they should be going to school

Tuesday, April 1, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

Can someone tell me what has happened to public schools?

It seems to me that every year more and more kids are dropping out of them. More and more schools seem to be closing their doors. The unemployment lines are full of kids.

Whatever happened to education?

Somewhere along the way, kids have learned to stop going to school. Did parents stop making them go? Did parents forget that education was important?

Do parents remember the way children learn to succeed is through education? Do parents still care about their kids?

Actually, when I observe the way things are going, I worry about that a lot. I worry that too many kids are going to jail when they should be going to school. I worry that parents are forgetting to insist on their kids staying in school.

Just two short generations ago, parents knew how hard it was to get a good job without an education, so they were determined to keep pushing their kids to stay in school.

Then for a little while, the economy improved and jobs were easy to get.  A few years later, along came the recession, jobs were tough to find, people were laid off, and things began to get rough. Before long, we were facing hard times again.

In the good times, it is easy to forget about those lessons we learned from grandmother and grandfather — lessons about the one-room schoolhouse where they sat and studied their books until they finished?

We learned about an aunt who had to leave town to study in college. The uncle who had to build fires for the stoves before he could go to work.

The aunt who sold mincemeat pies every weekend at the local restaurant and made oatmeal cookies for the men who worked at the ice plant. And the one who got out the little portable sewing machine so she could take in mending when she got laid off from work.

If there were 12 kids in a family, they all worked, and nobody went hungry. Some say those were the good old days. But people really weren’t any different. They were just too smart to forget.

In those days, you remembered. Not for yourself; you remembered for your family. You couldn't afford to forget.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or emailing her at

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Paul Cushing April 1, 2014 | 10:57 a.m.

Well said Ms. Nolen. So now the question is, how do we encourage parents to make sure their kids get to school and learn?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith April 1, 2014 | 12:12 p.m.

This brings us back to an oft-asked question. Is there a demonstrated correlation between having two functioning parents in a household vs. having only one parent - without regard to race, ethnicity OR economic status?

How much actual interest is shown at home, by parents to a child, about the child's education? I can even site situations involving affluent white households where this is lacking.

The old phrase that "charity begins at home" can also be restated that "parenting begins at home," and should never be "farmed out" to public school systems (who never ASKED for it) or to other "third parties."

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams April 1, 2014 | 4:16 p.m.

Ellis: "Is there a demonstrated correlation between having two functioning parents in a household vs. having only one parent..."

Well, someone once said "It takes a village", but that doesn't seem to be working out too well.

Especially the part where we try to turn teachers into the parents of their students.

It's gonna get a whole lot worse.

Fact is, I hold the past behavior and words of folks like Rose mostly responsible for this. When asking, "Can someone tell me what has happened to public schools?", I suggest she review her columns into the distant past and contemplate her participation in the long, slow destruction of things we (and she) once held dear.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith April 2, 2014 | 2:54 a.m.

Michael said, "It's gonna get a whole lot worse."

Unfortunately that's probably true. It is also a reason why there continues to be the trend by those who can find a way to financially manage it to send children/grandchildren to private primary or secondary schools*. For generations, going back to England, Germany and Poland as well as here in the United States, both branches of my family were strictly products of public education. With my grandchildren this has ended.

A personal/historical note. I was president of my public high school graduating class; our vice president was black. Approximately 20 % of that high school's students were black, in a state not having a large black population. I am somewhat resistant to assertions that current public school problems are simply the product of racial bigotry.

*- In the area of parochial schools this has created some situations we'd never previously imagined: Lutheran children attending Catholic schools (because a Lutheran school system isn't locally availabble).

(Report Comment)
Skip Yates April 2, 2014 | 2:56 p.m.

Being said as more and more politicians and public school administrators are pushing for expanded pre-K programs. In a simplistic view, in one case for votes; another for funding.

(Report Comment)

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