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JOHN EGGERS COLUMN: Would you like to be a hero?

To quote Mr. Rogers, “It’s easy to say it’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem. Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”

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I watched a little bit of the first tourist/civilian voyage to view earth from space in SpaceX. It was another amazing feat of ingenuity. When you think about the entire production of what it takes to shoot someone off into space, have them orbit the earth and then bring them home safely, it is an understatement to say it is mind boggling. Don’t you think? How can we possibly do that? I told Kathy, “There’s a lot of smart people in this world.”

When my 4-year-old granddaughter is my age, what space feats will we have achieved? Will we be living on other planets? Will individuals have their own spaceships? Will there be a United Nations of Space? What young person that you know will take a ride into space and in what year? I’m sure that people now in their 30s and 40s, before they die, will know of someone who went into space.

How long will it be before a Rotarian or Lions Club has a guest speaker who has been into space? How did this all come about? Where did it all start? Who is responsible?

I enjoy interviewing people who have started their own business. Most of these people were average students in school. They had a desire to improve themselves and they had a commitment to work hard. They also had one other thing and that was the will to learn and all of them did.

What did they do? They went on to a tech school for a short time, maybe took some online classes, maybe enrolled at the university for a few years, and most, if not all, worked with someone who could teach them the ropes. The point is, they never stopped learning. The more they learned the better they became and the better they became the more business they had to the point where they could hire others to work for them. Many are actually quite prosperous, not that this is a key to happiness.

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We have a constant debate in this country about how much we should give schools to “educate” our youth. As an educator, it’s hard to understand the rationale for such debate considering the United States is what it is primarily due to our educational system, whether it be private, parochial or public. But what if we had no educational system, no form of schooling, no form of organized learning? What if no money was given to provide a free public school education? What would be the result?

There would be no police force as we know it today.

There would be no firefighters as we know them today.

There would be no banking system.

There would be no shopping centers.

There would be no Chamber of Commerce, no Rotary, no Lions.

There would be no city or county governance.

There would be no organized athletic events.

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There would be no boys or girls clubs.

There would be no hospitals.

There would be no physical therapists, no optometrists, no cardiologists.

There would be no nurses.

There would be no sanitary systems.

I could list a thousand more items that we would not have but you get the picture. Oh, there also would be no polio, chicken pox or tuberculosis vaccines meaning so many of us would no longer be living. Life expectancy would probably be in the 40s and many mothers and many babies would die upon childbirth.

What does this mean? What it means is that education is everything and we shouldn’t take it for granted. It is the catalyst for everything we do that requires purposeful thinking.

Yes, our educational system is not perfect. Every need of every student is not met. Every teacher is not a Mr. Rogers but it was Mr. Rogers who said, “Anyone who does anything to help a child in his life is a hero to me.”

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I have been associated with educators for over 55 years. I recommend school change as you have read in my columns. Still, not for one minute would I hesitate to support our teachers and our schools because when we support our schools, without question, our community grows and prospers. Why should we show support for schools? I can give you the answer in four words, “It’s all about kids.”

In all of my years of teaching I can’t recall anyone saying, “I wished I never would have graduated.” “I wished I never would have gone to college.” We may not have liked every class we took—I hated physics—but if you look hard enough, there was some learning that took place and because of that learning we have doctors and managers and welders and bankers and clerks and, really, any position where you have to think.

I wish our schools could have a green light to getting funds like our defense department but we don’t. Every year educators at all levels have to go begging and pleading for dollars to support their efforts. Which is more important, a good educational system or a good military? Well, they are both equally important. However, without an educational system, there would be no military. Why do you think we have West Point?

To quote Mr. Rogers again, “It’s easy to say it’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem. Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”

We can all be heroes by supporting our schools.

Riddle: What is better: an old $10 bill or a new one? (Answer: An old $10 bill is better than a new “one.” The best thing about our educational system is its ability to make us think.)

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Thanks to Ricard Repair Service for being the most recent to join 414 other organizations in support of the 100% initiative.

John R. Eggers of Bemidji is a former university professor and area principal. He also is a writer and public speaker.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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