Lilliputians in a Gigantic World
By: Patti Bankson
A 17-year old Massachusetts boyâ€™s career goal is â€œdefinitely pro sports. Baseball. Basketball. Maybe football. Cornerback…â€ You have to either hand it to him, or feel sad for him, because heâ€™s not letting the facts stand between him and his pipe dreams… like the fact that heâ€™s only 5â€™6â€ and weighs 120 pounds; he was kicked out of his high school last year for smoking and fighting; he doesnâ€™t play on a school team and doesnâ€™t attend a regular school, but one for high school drop-outs.
In Texas parents sue a school board because their daughter didnâ€™t make the cheerleading squad. In a television interview the parents looked on while their daughter whined that she didnâ€™t understand how â€œthey could do that to herâ€… after all, â€œall her life sheâ€™d dreamed of being a high school cheerleaderâ€ and she â€œcried for 3 weeksâ€ after not making the squad.
Whether you think public schools are good, bad or somewhere in between, the fact is that something like 90% of Americaâ€™s parents send their children there for 12+ years hoping that they will end up educated enough to have a promising future. These kidsâ€™ stories â€“ just two of the many – donâ€™t raise my hopes. However, although Iâ€™m not a fan of government schools, I donâ€™t think theyâ€™re responsible for all the students who fail or for studentsâ€™ low aspirations. And why should we be surprised at those failures and low aspirations anyway? Even kids who are uneducated are not stupid. â€œDo as I say, not as I doâ€ has never worked, and still doesnâ€™t. What message do we think weâ€™re sending about what our real priorities are when weâ€™re more interested in athletesâ€™ moves on the court or field than we are in their education… or when athletes make a zillion times more than our teachers do?
Last year North Dakota paid the lowest beginning teacherâ€™s salary in the country – $24,035. Washington, D.C. paid the highest average salary: $61,195. Still a drop in the bucket when compared to the average (not the â€œbig boysâ€) pro athletesâ€™ salaries: Basketball – $5 million, Baseball – $2,800,00, Football – $1,750,000. At $162,043, even womenâ€™s golf pays more than twice as much as the highest paid teachers earn.
While itâ€™s true that some who dream of a professional sports career actually make it, like these two kids, they still seem to be woefully unprepared for life, even a â€œsuccessfulâ€ one with big money. They canâ€™t communicate well enough to get across a simple idea, speak English well enough to be understood (even when theyâ€™re not from other countries) and blow their opportunities as quickly as they get them, until itâ€™s all over but rehab or a jail sentence.
Maybe it would help if teachers were well paid when – and if – their jobs were well done. Maybe it would help if we stopped expecting everyone elseâ€“ including schools – to raise our children and just did the job ourselves. Maybe.
In the meantime, I guess weâ€™ll just do what weâ€™ve been doing … crank out Lilliputians, continue to expect them to compete in a gigantic world, and sit back and watch as they falter and fail.
Not all, but certainly too many.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21
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Patti Bankson 2007
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