Here's my bitch: No Child Left Behind wants all kids to be 100% proficient in reading and math, which is a great goal. Tennessee students have to pass the ACT's College and Readiness Test to graduate. Reality, however, is far from that. I know there are people who will suggest I be burned at the stake (and it's not just my husband's ex-girlfriends!) or at the very least fired because I don't "believe in the children" or some crap like that. Truth is, I believe in them 100%. I believe they can be what they want AND what they are capable of being.
What I want someone who votes these great idealistic dreams into law to realize is that some of the kids I teach aren't college material or have no desire to go to college. They are great kids, but they don't want to be a mathematical genius sitting in a white room solving equations or the CEO of some gigantic company. They want to install the heating and air unit in your home and coach their kid's Little League team. I know the kids need to know how to read, write, and do math. That's truth. What the hell does that have to do with making every single kid a college student? Is it so wrong, so disgraceful to be *gasp* a graduate of a trade school or something other than four-year college? Think the garbageman is a lowly, disgraceful job? Imagine if he stopped coming.
Now, my dad is a pretty wise and common sense kinda guy, but he was raised by damn near the wisest (not in a mafia kind of way) man I've ever known: his dad. Big Artie was born and raised in New York and was a teenager during the Great Depression. He told my dad he could be whatever he wanted to be, a rocket scientist even! But, and that's a big but, you couldn't plan on what the economy would be so you had to plan for a back-up career. No matter what happened, according to him, people would always need plumbers, electricians, and mechanics. Amazing the foresight, huh?
My thought is this: There is nothing wrong with being just the electician or HVAC guy/gal. The point is to be the best whatever it is you want to be. Be honest. Have a moral/ethical compass. Show up on time and don't cheat people. Do the job right ~ the first time. If you give your word, follow through. Just be the best damn whatever it is, no matter how seemingly unimportant. That would be a good start.