To the Editor:
This should be the season for proms and high school graduations. The talk should be about the dangers of underage drinking and drunk driving, but this year we are confronted with a crisis just as serious.
Our high school seniors are being forced to jump through hoops just to graduate. As if the project weren’t enough of a burden, the students must now pass the NECAP test or face the risk of not graduating. All I had to worry about when I was about to graduate from high school was getting my books back in good condition back to the school. If I couldn’t pay the fine, I wouldn’t graduate.
Such tactics remind me of underhanded devices used by southern pollsters after the Civil War and beyond to keep African Americans and the poor from exercising their newfound right to vote. If they wanted to vote, they might have to show they could sign their names or answer trivial questions.
We live in a difficult age where we should be building up our teenagers and not doing everything in our power to tear them down before being given a chance to achieve the American Dream. Changing the rules of the game in midstream is not the answer. If our children aren’t as smart as the international community, the fault lies in the educational system and not the students. Public school can be perceived as a glorified daycare center where students can sleep through classes and get passed along from grade to grade until surprise, it’s time to go out in the world and be a productive citizen.
If I was facing high school graduation today, I would have surely dropped out in the 10th grade, avoided those SATs I failed at miserably and gone to work. I would have attempted to get my GED and maybe tried Community College. I know for sure under the current guidelines revised for graduation, I would have never gone on to URI and got my Bachelor’s Degree in English.
The politicians need to consider how their current course of action will only help to discourage our future leaders who need to step up and one day represent this generation and those to follow. The ongoing disillusion among our youth must cease.
How are we to compete in the global economy if our kids aren’t given a fighting chance and are forced to ask, “Paper or plastic” or “Would you like fries with your order?”
Russell E. Gundlach Jr.