Your Turn — Thoughts on education

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, June 15, 2022

As we see headlines of graduations at colleges and high schools, it is a great time to reflect on issues that surround our young people. It is a wonderful opportunity to congratulate their success and wish them well in their future.

LOOKING PAST TO STUPIDITY IN SOME SCHOOLS

The bad part of their education the last few years has been COVID-19. However, many parents were awakened to what is and is not happening in our schools. Nothing is more powerful than parents looking out for their young people. It is important that there is public debate on the difference between indoctrination and education. Teaching the good and bad of history is important, but our children shouldn’t be blamed for the wrongs of other generations.

It is important that we do not allow in Virginia what has happened in such states as New York. There, they spent $200,000 of taxpayers’ money on having crossdressers enter the classroom. Nor in Richmond, where the school superintendent believes the public should have to pay $20,000 to find out what the schools are presenting to students on the good and bad of being a “sex worker.”

GREAT NEWS! NO. 1

Sometimes, we in our region believe that there are better opportunities elsewhere. My message to our young people today is that you are responsible to make the difference in your success. There is no better example than a young man that grew up in our church. At a young age, all of us who interacted with him knew that he would have a bright future. No one was surprised when he was accepted at Harvard University. At Harvard, he joined a class of some of the brightest young people in the nation.

Four years later, after having a double major in both math and physics, he graduated with the highest grade point average in each major. Likely, others were as smart, but he bested them. He had the opportunity to do well and he did. He worked hard and exceeded his fellow students in demanding majors.

GREAT NEWS! NO. 2

Great Aspirations Scholarship Program, Inc. (GRASP) is now approaching 20 years of success working with students starting in their junior year in high school. GRASP is a nonprofit organization that, from funding by businesses, places a financial advisor in high schools to work with students working through the maze of challenges of seeking assistance planning for college or skilled workforce training.

Currently, there are 90 high schools, many in our region, involved with GRASP. They work with students filling out financial paperwork and guide them in finding scholarships, as well as offering the last dollars needed. Currently, they assist students in Dinwiddie, Brunswick, Nottoway, Lunenburg, Charlotte, Mecklenburg, and Halifax counties. This is thanks to companies such as Universal Tobacco and Microsoft. It was great to see so many receive that assistance. Hopefully, all our high schools will join the current list.

GREAT NEWS! NO. 3

This year’s graduates are facing a fantastic situation in finding a job quickly. Currently, there are twice as many job opportunities for every individual looking for a job. That means that some will have a great opportunity immediately, while others may have to take a lesser job until they establish themselves as being a good and reliable employee.

BEWARE

I encourage those finishing high school now to think carefully about what your future should be. For example, some of those who have completed the Power Line Program at Southside Virginia Community College are currently earning four times more than some of their peers who chose college majors that have little demand in the job market.

A recent story published in the Richmond Times Dispatch profiled the success of college graduates in various majors. The story’s headline was “Some college degrees in Virginia never pay off; others provide instant return.” The story looked at graduates by their major. After five years, the average income for some was near minimum wage. Most of those majors were in the fine arts. While they may be rewarding in some ways, providing for your family’s well being should also be important. Those most successful had graduated in math, engineering, and computer science.

Graduates, make sure your eyes are open as you plan your future. The easy path might not be the best option.

FRANK RUFF JR. serves as the 15th District senator in Virginia. He can be reached at Sen. Ruff@verizon.net, (434) 374-5129 or P.O. Box 332, Clarksville, VA 23927.