15 March 2013


by Andy Weddington
Friday, 15 March 2013

"Let parents bequeath to their children not riches, but the spirit of reverence." Plato

Last night I received the following email titled, "Nominated for Best Email of the Year."

"After being interviewed by the school administration, the prospective teacher said: 'Let me see if I've got this right.
'You want me to go into that room with all those kids, correct their disruptive behavior, observe them for signs of abuse, monitor their dress habits, censor their T-shirt messages, and instill in them a love for learning.
'You want me to check their backpacks for weapons, wage war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, and raise their sense of self esteem and personal pride.
'You want me to teach them patriotism and good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play, and how to register to vote, balance a checkbook, and apply for a job.
'You want me to check their heads for lice, recognize signs of antisocial behavior, and make sure that they all pass the final exams.
'You also want me to provide them with an equal education regardless of their handicaps, and communicate regularly with their parents in English, Spanish or any other language, by letter, telephone, newsletter, and report card.
'You want me to do all this with a piece of chalk, a blackboard, a bulletin board, a few books, a big smile, and a starting salary that qualifies me for food stamps.
'You want me to do all this, and then you tell me...I can't pray?'"
A question and a comment...
Question: Where are and what are the parents and legal guardians doing?
Comment: The next to last sentence describes a nun - back in the days before all these electronic gizmos. Those dedicated women, who surely sacrificed, turned out decent citizens, with few exceptions, using a piece of chalk; a blackboard; a bulletin board; a few books; the hint of a smile once in a while; and, when necessary, mild corporal punishment (to correct) that was more embarrassing than physically hurtful. And they prayed, too. So did the students (for different reasons).
What was once done can happen again. And not just in parochial schools. (Note: Our school, in the Piedmont of NC, was not air-conditioned [and I don't believe the public schools were, either]; we wore uniforms; we attended Mass every day before school; after Mass, provided it wasn't pouring rain, school formation outside around the flag pole - students raised our national colors and we sang a patriotic song; sportsmanship and fair play was learned in gym class and on the playground during recess [and, of course, at home and in neighborhood back yards]; etc., etc., etc.)   
How? For starters, parental (legal guardians) engagement - with their children. And supervision. And discipline. And accountability. And standards of competency - of students and teachers.
More money and more things is not the answer to "fixing" education in America. Home schoolers have so proven. In fact, more money and more things can be argued as the cause. 
America should not only pray for a return to "education" but demand - and demand and demand.
And, by the way, 'education' and 'training' go  hand-in-hand - the responsibility of parents (legal guardians) and duty of teachers.

Tuesday past morning, for the 11th consecutive year and at the kind invitation of the commanding general of the Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California, I had the honor of watching the U. S. Marine Corps Battle Color Ceremony - "The Commandant's Own" United States Marine Drum & Bugle Corps; Silent Drill Platoon; and Color Guard. The Battle Color Detachment is on their west coast swing tuning up for the Washington, D.C. summer parade season.

Those Marines, young men and a few women, represent the epitome of sacrifice; self-discipline; commitment; practice; teamwork; and more. Parents and legal guardians and teachers deserve much of the credit for shaping the core of these citizens. And so does a unique Marine character called a Drill Instructor. And leadership.

Thousands of Marines and Sailors filled the bleachers and held formation around the parade field. 

School children, with their teachers, were in attendance - perfect! Perhaps the Marines made a lasting impression. They did on me.

In closing, the U. S. Marine Corps has a reputation (proven) for doing the most protecting America with the least resources (money and things). And these days your Marines are being asked to do even more with less still. Having been part of that culture, and knowing what's possible, zero tolerance for whiners and whining. Turn to.

A Marine's 8th General Order is, "To give the alarm in case of fire or disorder." We have disorder!

Finally, no one can stop you from praying.
Post Script
And when there was a disciplinary matter beyond the firm hand of the nuns, Monsignor O'Brien lived in the rectory next to the school and church. And parents knew about it.

1 comment:

Bruce said...

Outstanding commentary, Colonel - worthy of repeating to the masses.
As a side note, as a younger man involved in drum & bugle corps activities, I had the pleasure and honor of being acquainted with Colonel Truman Crawford, of the Marine drum & bugle corps - a legend in his own right.