Editor’s Note:  We don’t have a regular “Letter to the Editor” section, but we did get a submission.  We are grateful for any submissions!  So, rather than create a “Letter to the Editor” section, we thought we’d give this submission the full article treatment.

By Jerry Niles

In my line of work, plus working part time at a grocery store, gives me time to interact with and observe people.  I find it discouraging and sad as to how so many people did not take advantage of the free education that was provided them while growing up. This shows up in basic life skills like adding and subtracting, writing a statement with misspelled words, poor sentence structures and penmanship.  I must give a disclaimer and say this is not the norm in my life, but a side that I see with great concern. My intent is not to cast a net over everyone, yet give an opinion on a side of our society.

Watching shoppers load up their carts on warm and serve food, with little or no vegetables, fruit, grains, yet lots of soft drinks, chips, snacks, and beer tells me we have a growing health problem that even Obamacare can’t fix. I find it ridiculous when a person does not have the basic skills to prepare a home cooked meal from basic ingredients or understand the concept of nutrition. Listening to some of the conversations, I know they don’t know how to prepare a meal. That is disheartening.Family preparing healthy meal

Recently a friend posted his experience at the hamburger stand, where the car hop had to find a calculator to figure his change. It took her four minutes to figure it out. That is sad, for all of us. Someone failed, be it the car hop, her parents, the school system, or all of us. If we don’t get our people back on track, we will continue to slide downward as a society, as a nation.

I believe we must require from the eighth grade forward, all students have a semester a year, of home economics, dealing with nutrition and cooking, physical education, financial planning from dealing with a checkbook to financial security, along with math, reading, social studies and other core learning material. I recently attended a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace study seminar, thirteen classes, once a week. I learned a lot from the classes; most important was that I wasn’t alone.  These types of studies will better prepare our youth for the real world.

I further believe that competition is good and should be returned to the schools. Competition along with ethics and leadership should be a cornerstone for teenagers in high school. If we continue on the current track, we will see more low income workers, increased health care issues, and other social issues. We have created a generation of young people who have no idea of disappointment, and find it hard to deal with when it occurs in the workplace.

Education in PrisonAnother area is what about those already though with school, I believe we need to look at our states adult education goals and find a way to make the GED course free to Oklahoma residents, who filed a tax return.  To require all inmates in state prisons to pass a GED before being released, with the cost fixed to their other fines and costs. With that requirement, the state Department of Corrections must not be the testing authority, to insure proper compliance.

You read this and say, this will cost money! Yes, it will, but what about the long term?  We will generate a more intelligent, healthier person, that will have a basic skill knowledge of home finances, cooking, eating, along with the ability to add, subtract, read and comprehend, then we will have people less likely to end up in prison, to cost less in food stamps and Soonercare, to live longer more productive lives. That is where the savings comes in, the bang for the buck.