The Price of Beans
Are these words too strong? I don’t think so. We stroll the halls of a school determined to produce the next generation of education’s guardians. Many of our graduates prowl the halls of public school harnessed by public and union mandates.
mandates see that available funds stretch so thin that services for children
slipping through the cracks are hard to come by. In a Boston Globe article on
During difficult contract negotiations, unions set “work to rule” mandates which threaten teachers (who have the drive to help a student in crisis after the negotiated end-of-day) with sanctions and fines. Any fellow teacher may report such a rebel if he or she is moved to do so. A negotiated minimum level of education in special-needs courses insures that teachers with seniority, who may or may not be prepared to deal with these children, can win out over younger teachers with an abundance of relevant courses and experience. One special-education teacher pulled me aside to tell me that a classroom limit of eight can be an attraction for less-than-qualified teachers.
How do I
know these things? I have two grown
sons: one who, years ago, I could easily have envisioned holding one of those
I am a taxpayer, and not a day passed that I did not think of how much money flowed into his education. I assuaged the guilt by telling myself, “Pay now or pay later.” I feared prison would become home for the better part of his life if I did not keep trying. After fighting to keep him there for seven years, his out-of-district education hovered around half-a-million dollars, but the rewards are priceless.
After three failed attempts at a degree (one right here at Salem State College where he was “Student of the Summer” in the ’96 AID program) he became a trusted gas station manager and is now a pipe fitter’s apprentice. The anger boiling in his face, on occasion, still has the propensity to frighten people; but years of support have taught him how to channel it positively. A young man, treated as a throwaway by his peers and the academic staff in public schools, is a productive member of society. In twenty years, he will have repaid society for his education, and he won’t be racking up a bill in the local house-of-internment.
Several years ago, in another circumstance at
Some of these young men are in jail on murder charges since leaving school. Teachers were aware of how dangerous these kids were and nothing short of murder on school grounds would have caused them to address the problem.
My point is this: Children with this kind of anger spit signals out of every pore. I saw it in my older son; I saw it in faces of children sitting in school audiences during speaking engagements I performed over twenty-five years ago; and I saw it in classmates during my childhood school years. If I saw it then and know it exists now, I know teachers can see it.
Teachers spent many hours with the
In the Salem School System, there
are maybe a hundred angry kids who will turn into angry adults. They may kill themselves or they may kill
others. The running bet is they will do
it AFTER they leave school; otherwise, they could cost
The price of beans has become dear these days. A few million is a pittance compared to the lives of our children. If our children are the ones reaching into our pockets, are we going to allow them to do so? Can we be counted on to save children like my son? Like Harris and Klebold? Because if we leave them alone, they cannot be saved. If we cannot be counted on, the consequences may be far worse than we can imagine.
Think quick. I hear the price of Beans is going to drop tomorrow.
. Update: Paul is now a Master Pipefitter making $80,000 a year.