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Diploma opens doors in life

Guest Commentary

John Wallace

John Wallace

So, where were we on the CRCT (Criterion Referenced Competency Tests) scandal? Fourteen of 26 schools flagged for abnormally high erasures and corrections of answers. Investigators found evidence of cheating in every school they investigated. The investigators reported non-cooperation from school officials. “An impotent system of employee discipline with no fear of consequences.” A million dollars missing from the cafeteria fund. School Board members getting school vouchers for their kids and keeping their place on the School Board. People, I may not know much about history, but I know sorry history when I see it. Anyone can see there is a problem. There has been enough finger pointing. Let’s come up with a plan for the children.

I understand that some teachers don’t want to teach to the test. They say it’s degrading and unfair. It’s not, but here’s the real deal. It doesn’t matter what they learn. The point is, can they learn? If I throw some facts and figures at them, can they retain 2/3 of it and spit it back out at me? But not everyone is a good test-taker. That’s the point. If you cannot retain information, then your future employer needs to know this and assign you tasks commensurate with your abilities. Nobody cares about the Battle of Hastings in 1066 when William the Conqueror defeated the English. Who gives a crap? But if I tell you about it, how much can you retain or research on your own? And can you pass a test about it? If you do this well enough, you can go to college. If you get a diploma from college, again, it tells your future employer that you are good at absorbing, retaining and regurgitating information. A high school dropout may be smarter than a college graduate, but how can you tell? The dropout has no documentation to get through the door. And that’s why it is important for our kids to get a diploma. So they can be successful in life. And who doesn’t want their kids to be successful?

Parents are perhaps the most important ingredient to a child’s success. They are a direct reflection of you. Maybe you didn’t get the breaks you needed, but you can make sure your kids do. Insist that they do well at school. If their teachers won’t help them, find one that will. Do it for the kids. If they make above average grades, someone will pay for them to go to college.

Teachers may spend more waking time with your kids than you do. They are not the enemy. They are your partner. You need to talk to them and find out what you need to do to ensure their success. They are famously underpaid, yet they come to school each day and try to help your kids be somebody, to give them the tools they need to succeed in this world. You need to do whatever you can to help them.

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. Not every kid is going to make it through school. They either can’t learn or don’t want to. They were there when you were in school and they are still there now. Maybe the same ones. If only someone would sit them down and explain that school is an audition for the rest of your life. This is where we separate the wheat from the chaff. Who functions well in a subjective environment?

I know school seems tough at times, but wait until you get out in the real world without even a high school diploma. The boss will look at you and think, “He couldn’t even finish high school. Maybe we have something he could do, with a lot of supervision.”

Good grief, at least get a high school diploma so you have a running start at life that says you can apply yourself and finish things. Do that for yourself. You’ve seen some of the morons that graduate high school. If they can do it, certainly you can. Every job application I have ever filled out asked if you have a high school diploma. All things being equal, if I have two applications for a job and one has a diploma and the other doesn’t, I’m hiring the one that has a diploma. It may not be fair, but, hey, life isn’t fair. You have the most control over what the rest of your life will be like.

John Wallace lives in Leesburg and works with the post office in Albany.