Waiting for Superman is the title of a popular (and by the way great) movie. The premise is that we are all waiting on superman to change our educational system. Taken more broadly, it could be said that we are also "Waiting on Superman" for a variety of social ills besides education. As in my last blog, Milwaukee continues to dominate the news with negative statistics. Our city is now fourth in poverty in the nation. Was there an outcry from the most affected-African-Americans Latino, and other people of color? Of course not. This statistic primarily reflects how families with children are suffering-in this especially post election season. The politician rhetoric from the right and the left is jobs, jobs, jobs. President Obama believes the democratic party took a "shellacking" in the midterms because he lost his connection with the electorate. I'd say that the electorate is not ready for living in the 21st century. I want to examine this from a different perspective-I wonder if as a community we became less dependent on government, in this scenario "Superman", if we would find ourselves in this same predicament.
Let me explain. There was a time in the not to distant past-African-Americans could not depend on the government-even for the most basic protections. All of the strides that the Civil Rights Movement have given us of late are not being fully utilized. Voting, and education are far less important, so consequently whether our elected officials even bother to provide us with the tools to become a functioning taxpayer is debatable. Our education system is a perfect example-does it develop marketable skills, or encourage higher education, which ultimately leads to a satisfying career? For the most part no-graduation rates in Milwaukee still hover between 60 and 70%. Yes, there are high profile success stories, but why are they high profile? They should be the norm. It should still be expected that our children further their education, settle in a career, marry and have children-in that order. Nearly 20 years after the publication of my first book, I am still preaching largely the same message-education, education, education. Better still become a lifelong learner in whatever your field. Continue to respond to innovations, and there will always be a market for your skill. I continue to improve on my credentials, so that I can compete in the health care system. Next on my horizon is increasing my EAP practice through telemedicine, and on-line training for those in the health care field.
We need to revisit the mindset of the days when no one owed us anything, and we had to get it for ourselves. A plethora of $25.00 an hour manufacturing jobs are never coming back, nor is the certainty of 'working for the government and retiring". We need to plan our futures accordingly-that means putting education first once again. As President Obama noted the best job plan is an education plan. While "Waiting for Superman" rightfully points out some of the inadequacies of many school systems-they are not totally to blame-much of the blame falls on the parents. I am still appalled at the lack of parenting skills I see on a daily basis. Because the village has largely disappeared, today's' parents have no one to emulate, model, or learn from-many of us that have "made it", are hesitant because of the responses of parents that don't know any better. No one likes to be cussed out.
I went to a "mediocre at best" Flint Public School System for all 12 years of primary education, my mother was an involved parent as any other-nothing special. If she suspected something was a miss at school, she went up there-she didn't need a PTA meeting, and in most cases the teacher was usually right. The difference was that my mother made sure I went and graduated because it was expected-nothing else was acceptable. Barbara had extraordinary expectations from my ordinary performance. No one rises to mediocricty. Was I challenged in college because of this so-so primary learning environment?Absolutely! Did I quit? Not a chance, because I had been taught that a higher education was the key to financial freedom. I just had to work a little harder. I got my PhD in Clinical Psychology, and I have never been sorry.
And you know what? It has been the best choice I could have made. I don't worry at night about whether social security will be around, because I am not dependent on the government for my living-or to take care of me. I have not suffered in this economic downturn, because I own my own business-not just seeing clients, but consulting, as well as educating the disenfranchised (who heavily depend on government) to become Substance Abuse Counselors (whom we will never have enough) to own their own practices. My goal is not to retire, and certainly hope if I plan well enough, that if illness should befall, hopefully I'll be prepared. (That topic is for the next blog-our desire to live beyond our means). That is the mindset that we need to return-less dependent on government, and more dependent on our own abilities. We can rely on ourselves more, and the government less. WE CAN provide more for the least amongst us. Perhaps we are who we have been waiting for-just maybe WE ARE SUPERMAN?!