No. 796



The late Grayson Kirk (1903-1997), former president of Columbia University, once said, “Education is to develop the personality of the individual and the significance of his life to himself and to others.” In light of this quote by Grayson Kirk, my question to you is simple this: What happens when a person does not get an education?
I have a real burden to share with you today, and while it may or may not touch your life, the ramifications of my burden are far reaching. A while back I read a true story that happened in a public school in the eastern part of our state. A young man was sitting in a cafeteria having lunch when two other young men approached him, one from either side. They attacked him, resulting in injuries so severe that he had to be taken to the hospital.
The attackers later reported that they had words with the young man outside of school, and the only way they could get to him was at school. The victim later stated that the boys had been picking on him and his younger brother for a while and they claimed to be members of a gang. To make a long story short, the boys who carried out the attack were suspended from school and arrested on battery charges. Now, the article did not say if this school has an “alternative” school or not -- I can only hope they do because students kicked out of school prior to graduation have little hope of achieving any measure of personal success. While “alternative” schools are expensive, in the long run the costs to society are much greater.
The true story I have just described is just the tip of the iceberg of what takes place in schools all across our nation every day. In many cases, the consequences are fatal, because many students are killing each other. The question that keeps coming to my mind over and over again is, how can we reach them?
Kicking a student out of school in most cases solves the school’s problem. at least in the short term, but the long-term costs for society are often much greater. We know the problem and, in most cases, we know what causes it. All we have to do is study the student’s home environment for it to become readily apparent why aggressive and violent students act as they do.
I am well aware there are professional people in schools all across our country, as well as in our criminal justice system, who work on this problem every day and know a lot more than I do. My attitude is certainly not to try to upstage any of them, but as I thought more about this situation, I just wondered if it would be helpful if school officials could interview willing inmates in prison about their life. They could ask the inmates if they would change anything in life, given the chance to do it over. I just believe there are many inmates who would be happy to do this if they thought they could keep some of these kids in school and from being in prison where they are. These interviews could be filmed and shown to students who get in serious trouble to help them see where their actions are taking them, if not redirected.
In far too many cases, students never think about the consequences of their actions, especially if they are not taught when they are younger. I would encourage every person who reads this column to think about this question as it relates to our society and people you know who are heading in the wrong direction: How can we reach them?
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)