Public schools are at the front lines of our society’s various crisis. That’s one point I will return to again and again on this blog. Here’s just one example – when families flee from gang violence and poverty in Central and South America, public schools have to take the children in and educate them. It doesn’t matter if classrooms are already overcrowded and teachers overworked. Private schools can turn these children away. So while pundits talk about whether this move or that is constitutionally permissible in the ongoing debate over immigration, and blather on about how the latest maneuvers in DC will effect the next election cycle, public schools just have to get it done day in and day out. It’s about teaching, learning, and bringing up the next generation of workers, leaders, voters – and bloggers! And a school system like Marietta’s has an incredibly diverse population – from very affluent families to those living well below poverty. Our students come from traditional homes with two parents and siblings living together in a warm, supportive environment, to being homeless with no living parents. I could go on and on talking about these extremes. But to get to the point, this diversity is our challenge and opportunity.
The young man pictured above, Farkell Hopkins, has an interesting story you can read about here. He is an example of what may yet be achieved by a young person, with ability and who is willing to work hard, when dedicated teachers, administrators and school systems are committed to helping him. Here in Marietta, I am happy to report we are not giving up on students who might otherwise drop out and fail to reach their God-given potential. The Marietta High School Performance Learning Center is a place where kids who, like Farkell, have been saddled with the responsibility of not just going to school and doing homework, but also with raising themselves, caring for their families, shopping, cooking, paying bills, and so on, can earn their high school diplomas.
And who knows . . . Farkell wants to go to New York University to study business. Maybe that will happen. And when he goes on to start and build a successful business that creates good jobs that pay a living wage or better, he will be an example of how important education and flexibility, innovation and inspiration, are to education. The happiness and prosperity of our country depends on this.