Commentary on Indiana Schools

New York City USA - March 03 2011: Children entering school bus in the center of Vew Your City.

Several recent Indianapolis Star articles focus on the educational problem in our State while dodging the obvious solution. Russ Pulliam’s article entitled “IPS program helps fill parental gap” centered on a program hoping to keep at-risk students in school and sending them to college.

John Krull’s column entitled “We’re missing opportunities to stop crime” properly noted that children who have a parent who has been imprisoned had a better than 50% chance of going to prison themselves. In a Sunday article entitled “Next mayor to target crime”, columnist Kristine Guerra focuses on our mayoral candidates’ promises to add more police officers to patrol our city streets.

However, all of the above writers failed to note that 68% of those in our prisons have no high school diplomas. For numerous reasons, school becomes irrelevant and leaves them turning to the streets as the most obvious way to raise money. Put another way, hope is lost once most of them drop out of school.

The bottom line is the need to keep all of our students in school through the 12th grade, and we are failing miserably under our present educational system. First and foremost, it is absolutely ridiculous that we suspend school over the summer based on the antiquated premise that kids need to work the family farm to help their parents.

I grew up in Batesville, Indiana in the 1950s-60s, and many of my classmates were needed to work the farm during the summer recess. However, that is no longer true in our semi-rural areas, and it is fundamentally absurd to send kids home for the summer in major metropolitan areas like Indianapolis where many are left to embrace the old slogan, “Survival of the fittest.”

There is a simple solution to this problem, and it needs to be adopted now. We should have a national program where all public schools in major metropolitan areas are required to stay in session 12 months of the year from the first grade through the 12th grade. Teachers and counselors could be employed full-time to monitor the kids’ progress and keep them on track at a very young age. Sure it would cost dollars, but let me simply say that if we can pay millions for the ridiculous Benghazi Congressional investigation, we can spend millions on our American children.

In the end, I think we should have a national policy that embraces the theme used in the sensational film Boys Town (1938). Spencer Tracy played a priest who was running a boarding school that provided a controlled environment to educate abandoned kids. We need to adopt that principle now on behalf of American children who can avoid the allure of a life of crime if simply given the ability to see what waits for them at the end of the educational rainbow.