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Taking Care Of The Kids

The most important comment made last week during a public meeting on education held at John Marshal High School in Glen Dale came from a resident of that community. He is Dr. James Wilson, and it is fortunate that he happens to be a member of the West Virginia Board of Education.

Much of what state board members have heard during their “listening tour” of West Virginia has involved the instructional process. Wilson took a different tack.

“When I went on the board, I thought by improving standards and things like that, it would improve our, quote ‘test scores’,” Wilson commented last Wednesday evening. “I’m not so sure that’s the most important thing for us now,” he added. “We need to take care of the kids first.”

Parents are supposed to take care of the kids. Schools are supposed to educate them. We all know that.

But things have changed, and we all know ­– or think we do — what’s to blame: the drug abuse crisis.

As Wilson pointed out, some parents aren’t providing for their children’s basic needs very well. He said he has been told of some teachers who take children home with them “because they have nowhere else to go.”

That really happens, folks. And some children, probably more than you think, wouldn’t get enough to eat if not for breakfasts and lunches at school and, often, backpacks of snacks sent home with them.

As I’ve written previously, the state Supreme Court’s decisions are full of horror stories about children mistreated by their drug-addicted parents. If you want a sample, go to the high court’s website (courtswv.gov) and click on the “Opinions” tab. Look for cases in which initials, not full names, are used to identify children who have been taken from their parents for their own good.

My advice is not to do that. Looking through details of the cases will make you both sick and very, very angry.

Our schools — and many kind, concerned teachers — are the only line of defense some children have against parents who, for one reason or another, aren’t doing their jobs.

Sometimes, drugs have nothing to do with that, by the way. I can tell you horror stories from right here in the Northern Panhandle of children in families where the terms “mother” and “father” apply only in a biological sense.

Don’t get me wrong: The vast majority of parents do all in their power to be good moms and dads. But friends, we’re West Virginians. If even a few children are suffering, we want to help.

Wilson is right. Schools are a good place to start doing that.

Myer can be reached at: mmyer@theintelligencer.net.

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