“We’re going to do badly in school next year because there are going to be more kids in my classroom.” – Words of an elementary student on a San Francisco TV station news report.
We should be ashamed of ourselves.
Not just for the stupidity of our collective unbridled greed and wanting our cake today and making the next generation pay for it, but for our convincing young people doing with less means you have no choice but to lower your standards and expectations.
Life is about choices.
Less interaction with teachers can be countered by many youth by simply placing a higher priority on their education. It may mean less time spent pursuing sports, playing video games or watching TV. It probably means their parents will have to step up to the plate a bit more as well. It doesn’t, however, mean they are doomed to get less and less out of school.
Young people generally live up to adult expectations. Tell a kid they’re worthless enough times and you’ve destroyed a kid. Tell them enough times that they are going to suffer essentially with less teachers and your prediction will come true.
This is not to sugarcoat the budget crisis. It is daunting.
What it is not is the end of the world unless, of course, you convince everyone that everything is going to go down the toilet including a kids’ shot at an education.
Seventy years ago, an entire generation of kids faced their childhood doing with less. It was called the Great Depression. Yet many found the way to learn. They found the way to get through college without scholarships by taking two to three part-time jobs washing dishes and such while spending virtually every free moment they had studying. Adults didn’t tell them they were doomed. They told them hard work and perseverance will get you through this.
From that generation came the intellectual drive and will power that led to life as we enjoy it today from computers and the internet to cutting edge medicine, space travel and more. The foundation for the good life that we have essentially squandered with greed came from an economic time that makes what we are going through seem like a walk in the park by comparison.
Today, you can’t turn on the TV without a chorus line of endless Chicken Littles telling you how state budget cuts are going to kill off everyone from handicapped people and the homeless to the low-income. I seriously doubt you heard that much high pitched moaning and groaning during the Depression. People took what opportunity they had and worked hard at it to make things work.
Was it easy? No. Were people always successful? No.
In our head-long rush to create the twisted idea of a perfect Utopia where nobody fails, we’ve deprived a large chunk of a generation of youth of the rewards and triumphs that can come from failing and making do with fewer resources. You can’t truly succeed until you’ve encountered and dealt with adversity.
That is not to say the generation of youth working their way to adulthood short. There are many who understand what they need to do to succeed in life.
Unfortunately many adults without realizing it are working overtime to convince many youth they are going to fail and have a less fulfilling life because the state is cutting back due to the lack of money.
It is a self-fulfilling prophecy that threatens to poison the spirit and drive that is necessary to move America – and all of us – forward.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org