Thursday, March 27, 2014


This hashtag is trending on Twitter today.  I like to scroll through and read what people write under the trending hashtags, sometimes I like to participate. As I read through #HighSchoolTaughtMe, I grew very sad about our youth's perspective on high school, and their lives in general.

Little do they know that when they respond to these hashtags, they are giving us a  glimpse into their view of the world. And though it's only 140 characters, it says a lot.

This is what some of them said about #HighSchoolTaughtMe:

  • that many teachers do more of the parenting than some actual parents do.
  • to cheat in exams.
  • that even the ones you look out for the most could turn their back on you.
  • it's okay if you're unhappy and completely miserable, so long as you have good grades.
  • that people will like you only if you're hot & popular.
  • some people are only going to be nice when they need you.
  • that most teachers don't care, they're just there to get paid.
  • that if you dont have stunning looks or you're not good in a sport than you're a nobody.
  • that I don't have a right to my opinion.
  • that sophomores post nudes.
  • how to hate people.
This is sad, yes? It seems to me that as adults we've gone wrong somewhere to make our children feel this way.  Behave this way. Perceive their world in this way.

Don't get me wrong, They weren't all negative, there were a few positives, like these:
  • that we should be happy,we need to be happy, we deserve to be happy .
  • that no one's opinion but your own is important in the end.
  • to be responsible and free at the same time. How to have fun yet how to not fail my parents.
Um, yeah, the positives were hard to find.

I can't say I blame these kids. In many ways, our public education system is struggling.

Teenagers deal with crap at school every day - drama, peer pressure, violence, bullying. Top that off with those that have the added pressures of sports, music or other activities, then homework on top of that. It can be stressful. Think how you felt at that age, how all your problems seemed like the end of the world. I know from personal experience that the school systems don't know how to handle some of today's teen problems.

In some ways, schools feel like prisons, with on sight cops, drug testing, drug sniffing dogs,  students wearing badges or picture IDs, random sweeps for drug paraphernalia, security cams. I'm not saying these are bad ideas. I'm sure in some areas security like this is necessary and I'd much rather have my kids be safe than me be sorry. But I can understand how a child could feel like an inmate in a school that takes those times of security measures.

Then we have the state of the facilities themselves. 44% of public school principals reported that problems with the school buildings themselves interfered with student's education. Heating and air condition, which I can attest to. I remember when I used to volunteer in the elementary school, the rooms were either freezing or like a sauna, no happy medium.  Size and configuration of the rooms also appeared to be a problem. And then there are the portables. These seem to be a major problem, from noise control to air quality to their overall physical condition, these seem to be a major interference in the education process.

I'm not going to blame the teachers here. I believe teaching is one of the most unappreciated professions on the face of the planet. Yes, there are bad ones. Yes, some don't know their subjects. I read that less than 15% of Math, English and Science teachers have neither majored in nor received a certification in those subjects. However, more than half have a master's degree or higher.  Not bad. Pupil teacher ratios are also good. Luckily we have more teachers in the country, so we have about 16 students per teacher. YAY!

Getting back to these unhappy children...especially the one who stated teachers act more like parents than parents...sigh...there are the kids that deal with shit at home. I know kids with parents who are addicts, who live with other family members. Kids from broken homes, which as mainstream as it is these days, still affects them profoundly. You don't know what else goes on behind closed doors, they could be dealing with abuse, whether it be verbal, emotional or worse.

We need to protect all these kids -  these kids who have it bad at home, these kids who have it bad at school, who hate the learning process for one reason or another. We have to let them know that it's not that bad. 

There are over 3 million high school dropouts annually. That number has gone down in the last few years, but still, 3 MILLION!?! 

 These kids won't go to college. Many will be teenage moms. Half the people on Welfare are dropouts. These are also our future criminals! 75% of crimes are committed by high school dropouts.

This is our responsibility as a society isn't it? To make sure these kids graduate? The signs are all there. These are the kids who skip school, who  do poorly in class, who get in trouble, who have obvious trouble at home.

What can we do? According to the Parents Association we can do this:
  • Arrange for help making up missed work, tutoring, placement in a special
    program or another school.
  • Help with personal problems and/or arrange for professional help.
  • Help them schedule work and family obligations so there is also time for school.
  • Help them understand the choices they make - marriage, parenting, failing, behavior, suspension, expulsion - and how those things can disrupt their ability to finish school.
  • If a student becomes pregnant, help them find school and social programs to help meet their needs.
  • If all else fails, help them find a GED program and encourage them to stick with it until they finish.
But here's where I started.

Never live in fear of failure, true friends are the ones that are there when things suck, and nothing lasts forever.

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John Messina, Personal Injury Attorney

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