According to a Florida television station’s Web site (WOFL Fox 35 of Orlando), some people got their feelings hurt when a school board member out there spoke his mind. Wrote it, actually.
According to the station’s Web site, the school district implemented school uniforms and some parents complained they couldn’t afford them.
According to the station, the school board member, Jay Wheeler, wrote an e-mail to parents saying, “Everyone can afford Wal-Mart and if they can’t they need to think about turning off their cable TV or stop buying alcohol or cigarettes and spend their money on their children.”
When asked if he thought it might be insulting to some people, he replied, “I thought it might be a wake up call and I think it’s something people want to say but were afraid too.”
He went on to say it’s time for parents to focus on their kids, stop being politically correct and start being serious about education, according to the station. “I just told the truth and parents need to take responsibility and put their children first!”
Now, I don’t know anything about the uniform issue and don’t care. And whether “everyone can afford Wal-Mart” is an accurate statement, I don’t know. You can always shoplift like some people do.
But Wheeler’s statements that parents — or whatever combination of adults the child lives with — should put school stuff above their own stuff applies anywhere, don’t you agree?
I’ve never tried to figure if any students on free and reduced lunch programs have caretakers who spend money on booze, cigarettes, lottery tickets and junk food and entertainment. Haven’t tried to determine if any adults who spend money on that stuff have children who are on free and reduced lunch and who go to class without basic school supplies because their caretakers won’t buy them.
Maybe none. Maybe just a few. But just in case that’s you I’ve just described, as Gomer Pyle would say, shame, shame, shame!
I am not referring to people who genuinely need help. I’m referring to professional moochers.
I mulled this over with Woodland Heights Elementary principal Bob Turner, someone I mull things over with on a semi-frequent basis. He’s an interesting and likable fellow, even though he gives me an insufferable hard time over — well, we won’t go there.
Bob said he’s seen children on free and reduced lunch who lack “other things.”
Their caretakers “do have the money for fancy wheels and tires on their cars,” Bob said. They’ll have the money for fancy video games, entertainment systems, cigarettes, lotto tickets, beer and tattoos while their children lack school essentials.
He cited an example of families who move into the district mid-school year and children show up at school without a single pencil. “They expect the schools to buy everything,” Bob said. “Do we need to live in a socialist society? A sense of entitlement is what you’re talking about.”
It’s the children in those situations who suffer. Unlike adults, they have little control over the values they’re exposed to or to the events that control their daily lives.
What do you expect when a kid lives in a home where none of the adults work, or where one or more of them goes to jail on a regular basis, or where mom’s boyfriend is violent, or where drug raids occur?
Just don’t forget to blame the teachers if those kids struggle in school.
BTW, I know of a nationally known person who bashes teachers. I’ve heard him do it plenty on his syndicated radio talk show. Kid got a behavior problem? Blame the teacher for being “boring.” Kid a school drop-out? Blame the teacher for being unable to be a social worker and problem solver for kids from dysfunctional families.
I think I’ll find an e-mail address for this person and issue him a challenge: go teach for a year in a public school, not as a radio celebrity but as an unknown teacher, Joe Dokes. Then see if you still think teachers are boobs.
Steve Nash writes his column for the Brownwood Bulletin on Thursdays. He may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.