Thursday, July 16, 2009

"Educational State Of Emergency"

by TJ Thompson

Our nation has an epidemic of failing public schools. This is not confined to urban schools either. My alma mater, Shelbyville High School, in Shelbyville, Indiana was profiled in a Time Magazine article titled "Dropout Nation", as well as on 'The Oprah Winfrey Show'.

You can read that article here: and the Oprah segment here

Shelbyville is a small town of roughly 18,000 people - about 30 miles Southeast of Indianapolis. In a town with over 95% of the population White, 1 of every 3 kids will not graduate High School. One in Three!!! This contradicts every major stereotype portrayed on TV and broadcast throughout society.

Sadly, too many people across this nation believe that the educational crisis is limited to the Urban, Black, or Latino populace. This couldn't be farther from the truth. This epidemic is a national catastrophe. We are in an Educational State Of Emergency.

I believe that we cannot pass legislation and laws to curb this outbreak. The cure starts in the home and in the school. It is imperative upon the parents of our children to take charge. If there are no parents available, then the responsibility falls upon aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, grandparents, and even teachers. These children

need role model to encourage, nurture, and help them succeed.

I understand that there are cases in which one or both parents did not complete high school or receive a GED. This is one case where I feel that governmental measures could be necessary and useful. Programs that aide and encourage parents to advance their education will create an environment where parents and children can learn together. Parents and children helping each other will create a bond between them that may not exist presently. This will strengthen the family bond in this nation along with the educational advancement of our citizens.

If you are an adult, find a child in need. Nurture that child, embrace that child, help that child. Do not say that you "do not have time", because you do. Turn off the TV, put down the video games, skip your 'night out', and pick up a book and a child. There is not one kid in this nation who "is a lost cause" - that attitude is what put us in this detrimental state.

I was one of the lucky kids who had Ms. Kris Schwickrath (Ms. S) as a Latin teacher at Shelbyville High School. In my four years in her class, I was a lazy student. I refused to do work, I was a punk, and I was difficult - as were others. In those four years, Ms. S never gave up. She continued her efforts to nurture and teach me. She retained that hope that I would prevail. Sadly, my immature attitude remained over four years time. (more on Ms. S Now, as a 25 year old adult, she has my utmost respect, and is truly one of my heroes.

I maintain contact with her, and if I can get back into college, I will study to be a Latin teacher just as she is. I now see what it means and what it takes to be an educator. We need EVERYteacher in America to learn from Ms. Schwickrath.

Our teachers must look at their occupation as more than a paycheck. They must view their roles as a Duty To Their Country. They must not flee from inner-city schools because of difficulty, but instead rise up and fight for change. No matter how hard your life is inside the walls of the classroom, these children have a much harder life outside of the school.

An educated population can only advance the progress of our country. Educated people can make educated decisions about careers, finances, politics, etc. Knowledge is power. Together we can make this nation powerful once again.

I will close by simply reiterating Hon. Sonia Sotomayor's quote of her mother during her opening statement of her confirmation hearings:

"The key to success in America is a good education."

TJ Thompson is a new contributor to HHR Blog, he is 25 years old and live in Shelby County Indiana. He is currently running for Congress in Indiana's 6th Congressional District.

Any person may contact him at

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Obviously, the home culture contributes greatly to the education gap and poor performance of blacks. However, should the private culture somehow change, there will be no improvement in education with the government schools holding their monopoly in providing education services. Competition is needed via school vouchers so parents have a choice of schools.