Our public schools are failing.
Well, let me clarify that. Parents and public schools are failing our kids together.
Parents are absolutely essential to education and without a strong support system at home, students are more prone to failure. There are things that only parents can teacher their kids, things that schools cannot.
How are we failing our children? Let me count the ways.
Financial illiteracy for one. Americans simply don't know how to handle money.
Only two in five adults have a budget.
Since 2012 Americans have racked up $153 billion in new credit card debt. The average household has $130,922 in debt of which $15,762 is credit card debt. The average American household is paying a total of $6,658 in interest per year. Credit card debt is chewing up $2,630 each year in income per household on average.
Twenty percent of us spend more than we make.
Fifty-four percent of Americans don't have a rainy day fund.
Little wonder that if people are mismanaging their money they are prone to elect people who don't mind doubling the national debt from $10 trillion to $20 trillion.
I won't totally blame the debt solely on the financial illiteracy of Americans. The cost of living has outpaced income growth over the past 12 years. Household income has grown by 26 percent in the past 12 years but cost of living has gone up by nearly 30 percent. Add ObamaCare into the mix and people have far less disposable income than they used to have.
Incomes, which are staying flat and in some cases dropping, are dropping due in part to the loss of jobs and plant closures as corporations are driven out of the country by a burdensome tax and regulation system.
No wonder we see people thinking that a push for an increase in minimum wage will help matters. They simply aren't thinking. If we taught simple economics, they would see that increasing the minimum wage only drives up the costs of goods and services AND results in the cutting of jobs. The bottom line of businesses suffers, which means they raise their prices or lay off workers.
WalletHub just came out with its WalletLiteracy Survey and ranked all the states. New Hampshire is the smartest in money management, followed by Minnesota and Illinois. California was 25th.
We aren't teaching our kids how to handle money or think about how much it costs to be out in the world. No wonder so many kids are opting to stay at home as long as possible after graduation.
I left high school in 1979 and really had no idea how to manage money. It wasn't taught to me at any stage of my life. But I knew I had to work while going to college because I wasn't indoctrinated in the prevailing entitlement philosophy of today. I held down a nasty job most people would never take, let alone hold for a year and a half. I didn't believe in myself so I took the first job that came along, one offered by my late uncle working in Foster Farms chicken houses. Boy was it a nasty, hard job. I picked eggs from nests, which means the hens bit the back of my hand a lot. I had to wear a mask to keep out the dust and feathers and the ammonia from all the chicken manure that glistened the floor. I also participated in the unpleasant task of weighing birds from a test pen. A chicken's reward for you hanging them upside down to be weighed is to crap all over you, then beat you in the face and eyeballs with their wings.
I was probably 22 when I was living on my own. We lived in rentals and our first home, an $11,000 mobile home. According to the Office for National Statistics, a total of 3.3 million 20- to 34-year-olds lived with their parents in 2013. Talk about a failure to launch.
That's not the only area in which schools and parents are failing.
We don't teach kids how to run households or how to cook basic dishes. It's time we brought back home economics so that boys and girls learn how to cook. Just ask Pueblo, Colorado high school teacher Marilyn Wagner who said: "We fought throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s to make the case that [home ec skills] were the skills everyone would need to survive in the world. But when we lost the battle for a comprehensive education in the field, we ceded nutrition to science teachers-many of whom just don't teach it. And cooking skills fell off the map altogether."
Let's face it, if you can't cook nutritious food you probably opt for cheap fast food. While it's easy to grab a quick and cheap meal at Taco Bell, the food is not what I consider healthy and won't be doing your waistline any favors. How else can you explain that the obesity rate of children 2 to 19 has tripled since 1980?
Parents are often not giving their kids chores either. While it may be easier to adopt a "if you want something done right, do it yourself" attitude, kids are being short-changed and not learning how to take care of things themselves.
Apparently we're not teaching other life skills. Take riding a bike as an example. I can't tell you how many times I see grown men - who apparently aren't able to afford cars because they don't have jobs - riding their bicycles in an incorrect, unsafe and illegal manner. They are forever peddling against the flow of traffic on Ceres streets or dashing through intersections in incredibly dangerous ways. But then again, common sense cannot always be taught.
Schools beat the drum for students to "Just Say No" to drugs yet the area is replete with meth heads who break into our cars and our houses to support their habit and stand on street corners begging for money. In 2012, there were approximately 440,000 current meth users. This translates to roughly 0.2% of the population.
We're apparently not teaching kids about being good citizens, either. This was on social media last week on the Keyes City News page of Facebook: "Apparently there was a big party around the corner from us last night about 11:30. Our street was full of cars including one blocking my driveway. Cars started parking on 7th Street and young kids kept walking past my house. I asked whose house the party was at and none of them knew the name. They were not from Keyes. Threw their garbage out in front of my house. I think it was one of those vacant parties." Great, representing in a single event are trespassing, curfew violations, blocking driveways, littering, underage drinking, and probably DUIs and STDs.
I suppose I need to cut youth some slack. I'm reading a book about young LBJ and learned that not only was he lazy as a teen, but he also engaged in shenanigans like stealing sticks of dynamite from the state highway corporation yard and exploding them while hanging on strings from trees. If a young man like that could make it in the U.S. House and Senate and become president, there's proof that people can grow up and make it in life.
How do you feel? Let Jeff know by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org