Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Options Should Expand for Our Youth

I am very concerned about the youth of today. Many young college graduates are doing work far below their educational level and feeling frustrated. This disappointment does not lead to good job performance of course. Some of these people would be happier in technical or service jobs that require training, but not a college education.

We lived in a small town in Michigan in the early 1990s that had an excellent vocational/technical school. High School students who were not college-bound could add vo/tech credits to their high school classes to graduate. The success was amazing. I did several newspaper features on the various programs: aqua-culture (fish farming and hydroponics were combined successfully); auto mechanics; auto body work; hospitality; food service; hair styling; and information technology. There may have been more, but memory fails me. I remember one boy in the auto mechanics program who was found to be so outstanding that he won a full-ride scholarship to study mechanical engineering. He never dreamed of going to college. But, what was really satisfying was watching the self-confidence of these students grow as they found a path they knew would bring them a satisfying career.

This model could be followed all over the country and I believe it should. Not everyone is suited for a college education but they are given the false impression that it is the only way to get ahead in the world. Let's give them better choices!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

1969 - Before Men Walked on the Moon

My youngest son had started school and I had just remarried my first husband. We had found a modest little frame rental house on a dirt street and moved in the week before. As we turned into our driveway Greg (my youngest boy) spotted an old maroon Chevrolet next door and exclaimed with joy "That's George's car." "No," I reminded him, George moved to Maryland so it can't be. "...and there's George!" he declared. I looked in disbelief at the huge form that was George. Sure enough, we were living next door to a man I had dated (even discussed marriage with) while I was divorced.

The three boys were close in age and played ferocious boy games, running with whoops though sandspur patches and down the dirt road in front of the house. More than once George's step-son Timmy was prey for my gang of two. I had a hard time convincing them that was unfair.

They were always into mischief. One day Greg hacked down a plant in the back yard. When I asked him why he said, "It doesn't grow food or flowers or anything. What good is it?" Another day, I found Tom covered in green oil-based house paint. Furious, I grabbed him by the arm to usher him in for a good cleaning, yelling all the way. He just laughed and said "wait until you see my brother!" Greg also set fire to the vacant field next to our house on at least one occasion. I was never sure which of the three boys hatched the idea though.

It took a while, but George, his new wife and step-son, and later his baby boy, became our friends. It was a bit unsettling at times. One day as I stood at the kitchen sink washing dishes,  I yelled for my husband, "Honey?" and George answered (thinking his wife was calling him). The window over the sink faced theirs and was only a few feet away. Within a year, each family moved out and went separate directions. But, his wife and I kept in touch for years.