America: You are failing our children

Published 8:00 am Friday, April 21, 2023

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One of my granddaughters just gut-punched me.


In a text, she asked if I would homeschool her.

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 “Are you having trouble with school?” I asked, thinking that she had inherited my math-failing gene.


“No. But these school shootings are worrying me,” she said.


I soon learned that her daily routine now is far different than when you and I were in school. As she enters each different classroom during the day, the first thing she does is visually survey the room. She is planning her escape. Looking for cover and concealment. Noting which heavy object she and her classmates could use to block the door.


She is 13 years old.


No, she does not live in Ukraine, Sudan, Afghanistan or Yemen. She lives here in the United States of America, a country no longer united. A failing country.


Failing, I say, because we are miserably failing our children. It’s that plain and simple. Not the solution, of course, but the problem.


We are a nation of institutions, and they are losing their standing and support because they are failing. Whether you care to believe it or not, churches are in decline, even in the Bible Belt. People no longer trust our three branches of government–legislative, judicial and executive. The U.S. Supreme Court’s standing is falling faster than a barrel over Niagara Falls. Police departments are no longer trusted by all the people they are supposed to protect. Big business is flying high above the carnage in its corporate jets, not caring about anything other than ROI. Sadly for me, the press has lost trust as well.


The collective feeling that nothing is working creates an opportunity for those who want to destroy. Instead of working toward solving our problems, they work toward their own agenda.


“I get worried every day before school. It’s so scary,” my granddaughter said. Lockdowns happen. Threats are assessed. But, school life is no longer normal.


Going to school isn’t supposed to be like that. It isn’t supposed to be a matter of life or death. It isn’t supposed to be a fear-filled time in a kid’s life. They shouldn’t be worried about anything other than how to treat acne, or how their hair looks, or if they will pass the math test.


How can we expect them to get a useful and meaningful education if they are thinking more about the possibility of an “active shooter” scenario in which a deranged person sets out to kill and maim as many as possible?


We’re also failing our teachers and administrators, many of whom have fears as great as those of my granddaughter. Who’s going to protect them? No one, it seems. Instead, a few areas of the country say the solution is to arm teachers. That is a misguided and foolhardy idea based more in blustery than logic. Not only does it suggest that teachers should buy their own classroom supplies but also bring their own 9 mm pistol.


So, here we are, a nation that can create artificial intelligence but not safety for our children and teachers because we can’t have a national conversation about the problem. In fact, we can’t even seem to take the first step of acknowledging that we have a problem, much less trying to make amends for how we have allowed our children and grandchildren to be cheated.


We simply are failing our children. It’s an ugly black mark.


Larry McDermott is a local retired farmer/journalist. Reach him at