Opinion

Wake up, it's time for school | Tito Hinojos

“It’s six-o’clock in the morning, time for school” were the alarming words that served as my alarm clock.

“I don’t want to go to school” were the words I would mumble when I was a kid, as I grew up hating school. I say "mumbled" because I had no choice but to go to school. We didn’t have the PC games, not even a good working black-and-white TV.

In spite of my dislike for school, I still remember the admonishing words from mama Lolita: “I don’t want you to end up like me without an education, and I want you to get a good job.”

What did my mother mean when she referred to these two scriptures from Lolita’s book of life? Due to her unfortunate experience in life of marrying in her early teen years and only having a fifth-grade education, she would pray that her children would not follow the same pattern of life’s development.

For most Americans, school is a large part of life. From the time you turn 5 until the time you're 18, one will probably have spent thousands of hours in a classroom. Some students leave school because they need to help with the financial burden of paying the bills; they may be early parents, or school doesn't appeal to them as the right option for them at the time.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 12.8 million people over age 15 have a General Education Development certificate (GED). This staggering number is an indicator that either lunch at school is real bad, or that the chores at home are very light. Regardless of which sarcastically mentioned reasons, the truth is that there are still enticing reasons for our youth to dropout of school.

In the 2006-07 school year, the numbers in Federal Way School District show us that the dropout crisis is one that needs addressing. When you have a staggering 11.1 percent of Latino students, 9.2 percent of blacks, and 4.1 percent of white students dropping out, I believe we have a problem.

Even though the rates decreased the following school year, the graduation rates of students that graduated on time in 2007-08 are not acceptable. We must do better than 56.5 percent for Latinos, 60.8 percent for blacks, and 71 percent for whites. We still face challenges of household income, unwanted pregnancy, divorce, leaving the country — and the list grows every day.

The question is: Do the youth of today have the opportunity to get a job without the “prize” attainment of a diploma? This is where the value of a GED may come into place. In years past, a GED was viewed as a means of failure, even though you attained it; today it is weighed in the balances of life with different measuring processes and looked upon with a different lens.

Employers are faced with an increase of applicants without the skill sets and tools needed to do the job; they now have to look at job seekers with only a GED education. Will it suffice to fulfill mama Lolita’s wish for her kids today? The answer is yes and no.

Attaining the GED for some may be metaphorically like "hanging yourself to dry." Yet to others, it is the key to success. The comparison is often viewed by employment agencies and employers as a stigma that indicates a person’s inability to attain a goal, or is viewed as lacking ambition and commitment, or lacking a sense of completion or follow-through.

On the positive side, an individual who completes his requirements for the GED could be viewed as a person who has the ability to meet challenges and complete the course that it may take. It may also demonstrate someone who seeks this opportunity as an advancement to his goal of being a productive citizen — thus having characteristics of a disciplined, hardworking and teachable individual.

A key component that can ultimately determine whether your GED or your high school diploma adds value in today’s job market is whether it is complimented with other types of educational training: College courses, seminars, etc.

Regardless of the reasons behind your attainment of the GED, or whether you're just graduating from high school — the bottom line is that both have their pros and their cons. Regardless, at least get one or the other. It is a commendable accomplishment. You can take the following proverbial words to the bank: “The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage.”

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