At the Republican Headquarters in Lebanon Thursday May 19, 2011 a unique event occurred. I was skeptical of this event at first, but once concluded, I will admit to a level of enchantment that is unprecedented in these modern times. Concerned citizens looking for options in education funding and content issues gathered to listen to the Governor of Ohio, John Kasich speak from Cleveland at a statewide showing of the film Waiting for Superman.
I wasn’t sure how such a thing would be done. I knew the technology was available. I’ve been involved in many conference calls for business meetings, but what Kasich was trying to do was unique.
I sat down in the lobby of the Republican Headquarters, a small converted house just behind the historic Golden Lamb. It’s an older building unpretentious in it’s nature. Several of my friends were there popping popcorn and eating pizza. At 6 PM a laptop on a desk in the corner played Kasich live over the internet as he introduced the film Waiting For Superman, a film made by the same people who did An Inconvenient Truth which made Al Gore so famous. Kasich spoke about the need for education reform and said that this film, made by liberals, touched him so deeply that he felt compelled to act. He also added that he didn’t like to speak after watching the film but said that we’d all meet back online to have a discussion. Then he said hit play, and enjoy the movie.
There were about 25 of us crammed in the lobby sitting in chairs and watching a widescreen television that was playing the movie, which follows a number of children on their quest for a voucher school. The film explained how devastated public school had become through union influence and kids weren’t learning what they needed to. There were many charts about how America is falling behind the rest of the world in education and there simply isn’t any reason for it. America is nationally spending close to 10K per student, yet the results have not shown up in the kids.
The movie was sad. It’s a film I had wanted to see for a long time, but just didn’t take the time to view. It’s on Netflix, so if you haven’t seen it yet, make it a point to do so. I truly felt sorry for the parents that had children crying because they weren’t able to hit the lottery, which is how kids get into these crowded schools. It’s amazing that these charter schools are so crowded, that there is such a demand for them, because public school is free, and is supposed to take care of this issue without the extra expense. But like anything that’s good, and like everything that’s government run, there are vast discrepancies. What’s good is driven by passionate people who care, and are able to see beyond the headlights, visionaries, and other creative people. Government produces complacency, mediocrity, and sheer dullness. The two different styles and their results are grossly evident in the film.
As I watched the closing moments of the film, the popcorn that was freshly popped just hours before still filled the room with its festive aroma. A screen door that was the threshold to the small building was blowing open and closed in a gentle evening wind as the sun was setting quickly outside. I watched traffic rolling aimlessly down the street outside as the credits ran and nobody spoke for several minutes, computing their emotions. I thought of the people driving those cars, how most of them were so easily manipulated, because they are too busy to think. They are the first type of person that believes the Lakota Administration when they proclaim that their recent contract negotiation with the LEA was done in good faith, and not the threat of S.B.5. Those people driving down the road can’t see the shell game being played against them, not because they are too stupid, but they aren’t willing to deal with the problem. They do like they do most things in their life, they throw money at it and hope the problems go away. Their car breaks down a lot, they throw money at a brand new one. Their neighbor gets new gutters that direct the water away from their homes, so they go buy new gutters. Their neighbor buys a new television, so they buy a new television. They work too much, they are on their second marriages and have step children that need educated, but they don’t truly care for their step children, because the children remind them of a previous spouse, so they avoid the children psychologically. They instead count on the schools to fill the emotional gap so they throw money at the schools.
At the end of the credits Kasich was back on live from Cleveland speaking from the laptop. He went on to perform an hour of questions and answers about his views on education reform. Educators, school board members and other concerned citizens spoke in the town hall-style meeting and I thought Kasich did a great job of opening himself up. I couldn’t recall any governor of any state attempting with such sincerity to do anything close to what Kasich was doing, let alone tackle the controversial issue of education with such direct frankness.
Around 9 PM everything wrapped up, I grabbed a handful of popcorn and headed back to the car with my wife. On the way home we talked about the experience. She looked at me as the darkened countryside passed by outside the window. “I understand with clarity what the problem is.”
“You do?” I asked.
“Yes, I felt sorry for those mothers, but the problem is many of those women have forgotten to be mothers. They had other options. Looking to someone else to educate their children is asking for a disaster.”
I thought about it. She was right. She is a woman who took a lot of criticism while we were raising our kids because she took a very active role in their lives. When we were first married we made the decision to have her not work, so when we had kids she would be able to commit herself toward their development. We didn’t want to do daycare. We didn’t want to rely on a family member, because there was a certain vision toward life I wanted them to have, and I wanted a mother there to make sure they got it. We didn’t raise our kids waiting for superman. We decided to be superman. I did the extra work to make sure my wife was free to raise my kids. And she did the extra work to make sure it happened even though society ridiculed her for it. Here was a woman who could have been a professional model, here was a woman who had a load of brains and was book smart, where school was easy for her. But to society, she was wasting her life in sacrifice to her children. She was giving up a career and everything that comes with it so she could be cooped up in a house with a bunch of little kids. To society, that decision was tragic.
My opinions on this matter where settled when I was very young. My mother was the kind of woman everyone wanted for a mom. She did all the things that kids fantasize about in having an ideal mom. She was always there for a little treat. She was always there to hand out a band-aid. Dinner was always ready around at 5:30 pm when Dad came home. She was a room mom in school that would make treats for every kid in my class. She did all the little things that are so important while children are still developing their consciousness from those tender ages of 1 to 12. My mom was the kind of woman who would give me books that she’d write little things in that I still have, and I may not read the book right then, but within the next year or two, I would. She still does things like that, just the other day while my dad and her were vacationing in Hilton Head, she brought me back a new book mark that had pirate skulls all over it in 3D. She wrote a little message on the back for me to remember, which I will.
For me, I was done cooking at age 12, because I had a dedicated mother, and a grandmother that was equally dedicated. I had a stable father, and a good positive family environment. It worked wonderfully. All the kids my mother had turned out well. Nobody has any deep psychological problems. We all handle stress well, and are successful at the art of living, not just financially, but emotionally as well. It’s not a surprise. It’s not a secret formula. All it took was a mom. As a man, I don’t have a single insecurity. Not a single inferiority complex. I don’t have a single doubt, or fear. I didn’t get that by age 12, but the foundation was set. The rest I had to do myself and that didn’t get completed till I raised my own kids. Because when you are raising kids, you may not fear for yourself, but you do fear for them.
I married a woman who wanted to commit herself in the same way to my own kids. That’s what I looked for in a woman, someone who would be dedicated to building a family. Someone that would always be there for my kids, someone who would make actual birthday cakes, and not buy them at Kroger, someone who would buy my kids little treats while they are out shopping, so the children would have something fun to greet them when they came home from school. I wanted a woman who would drive them to school everyday so my kids wouldn’t have to ride a school bus, because I remembered what happened to little girls on the school bus in grade school, and since I had girls, I wasn’t going to put them through the humiliation. I didn’t want them to accept humiliation. When the school system crossed the line and didn’t teach my kids what I thought they should be learning, or they didn’t teach enough, we pulled the kids out of school and taught them ourselves. I wanted a woman that would do that kind of thing, that would buy my kids books and would read to them every night.
As the countryside went black I looked at my wife. She had done all those things over a 20 year period. She endured ridicule from family members and friends that most people never experience, because most people don’t go against the grain as furiously as she did. Only in hind-sight can those same family members see the benefits. Only in hind-sight do we understand what we fought so hard for. Our children are evidence of all the hard work. They are brilliant and good in every way a parent hopes for.
We have occasional disagreements like when I recently argued with my youngest about applying to college in London. I told her those socialists would attempt to reprogram her and she’d be too far away from home to get her grounding again. “Oh, dad, I’m not a weak-minded fool.”
My kids don’t lack courage. They are secure. And there isn’t any problem that they think they can’t handle, at any level. Why is that? Because they had a fantastic mother.
In the movie, Waiting for Superman, I realized my wife had hit the core of the issue. Those mothers, crying to get their children in a charter school and away from the apathy of public school were making a fundamental error in raising their children. They were looking for the school to do the job of the mother. That is the fatal error.
Not everyone reading this can take pride in having such mothers as I describe. We are suffering through a hundred years of progressive brain-washing. I know how hard it was on my wife and me, so I understand why people give up, or don’t even get started on the commitment. However, no amount of money can be thrown at a situation to fix education. It cannot be the job of a school of any kind, especially a government-run entity, to replace the parent. There is no substitute for a mother, especially a good one.
My advice to people is don’t wait for superman to come and save you. Become superman and save yourself. If you really want your kids to have a good life, fight for lower taxes so you children can keep more of the money they make. And spending time with your children is a lot more productive than spending money. There is no substitute as much as lost progressive souls wish upon a star of illusion. Their legacy has left mothers trying to be fathers, fathers trying to be mothers, and fathers divorcing mothers and mothers marrying other fathers of other children while those fathers marry new mothers. Progressives drool over the hope that they can fill the social destruction with a teacher that we are asking too much of, what they don’t see is that it is their policies that created the mess to start with. Progressives are responsible for the whole mess. They are what destroyed the American family. They are what have destroyed education. They are what have left us taxed beyond existence, the blood is on their hands as millions of young people grow less intelligent the older they get.
I know a very bright-eyed young girl of about 7 that is full of hope and dreams. Everyone when they first met her thought “this is a young girl that will be something.” But the closer she gets to junior high, the closer she gets to older kids that are “giving up,” because they see where their lives are going in their messed up parents, the light in this young girl’s eyes is dimming. I told my wife that in a few years, the light will go out all together.
“Why, we must do something,” she said.
“You can’t help her,” I said. “You can only help your own children, your nieces or nephews. You can be kind and offer yourself as a mentor, but ultimately those kids will only be as good as their parents.”
She whiffed in frustration, but she understood what I meant. We both drove into the darkness of Monroe, passed the Hustler of Hollywood store and noticed that it was full on a Thursday night. We both knew what the other was thinking as we continued west back to our home. Government tried to replace the family and they failed, and public school is the evidence of that failure. More money won’t fix that problem until we fix our desire to have strong families again, as a society. Because it all starts with a mom and a dad. And if the mom and a dad don’t make it, the kids will suffer. No amount of money can wash away the guilt of what those parents put their children through, even though countless parents hope and pray that the sins of their lives can be purchased from the souls of their children. We now understand that it is impossible.
Become Superman, don’t wait for him. The greatest gift you can give a child is to give them someone to look up to, to emulate. Money won’t do it. Only what’s in your soul will work, and you can’t hide that with material goods. You have to be superman to the core of your being.