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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
        Wednesday, January 22 2003 

Jon Kennedy, webmasterNontraditional academics

(Seventh in a series.)

The traditionalist in me groaned inwardly when my daughter, Chris, dropped out of her public high school at age 16. Having been made privy to her IQ score, and having seen my own while playing secretary at the Blacklick Township High School office a generation earlier, I'm betting her's is the highest in the family, though I have not seen all the other scores. Chris has always been the most rebellious, free-spirited member of the family, too. I'm not proud, but not entirely ashamed, either, in saying she probably gets much of that from me, an altogether nontraditional traditionalist.

Chris knocked around for as long as she could until the truancy laws and their enforcers caught up with her, and she then enrolled in the county's "independence school," a highly nontraditional approach to high school. She met tutors almost like English university students do, one evening a week, then pursued her "studies" "independently" the rest of the time. There were tests and, in typical fashion for her, Chris aced them, getting her GED (general educational development) diploma earlier than she would have graduated with her class. She then enrolled in a local college to prove that she was fully qualified, but didn't stay with college very long.

I pleaded with her to return to school when she announced her permanent withdrawal, after having dozens of unexcused absences. I knew by that time that with her native intelligence and her attainment to that point, she was probably learning little if anything in her classes, but remembering how much I valued my interaction with schoolmates and the social life being part of that meant to me, it was almost heartbreaking to think she would never go to a prom or sit with her classmates—or maybe even be one of the speakers—at graduation. I may have been lucky that she could have cared less about such things; here in California it's not unusual for prom-going seniors to spend a thousand dollars or more on their formal dances, which are never held at the school or even a semipublic hall like the VFW where Nanty Glo-Vintondale held proms when I was living in the Valley, but at a first-class hotel ballroom with chauffeured limos taxiing the participants.

The point of this is the continuation of Monday's. I learned through my own education in graduate school and, especially, the teaching I did afterwards, that the most educational experiences are the ones you pursue independently and determine to master. Chris may have missed out of a lot socially, but she didn't miss out on a high school education. I wouldn't be afraid to see her up alongside any of the school teachers and graduate students Jay Leno interviews and reveals to be abysmally uneducated in his weekly Jaywalks. Her answers probably wouldn't get televised; they wouldn't be stupid enough to seem funny.

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy

 Women's studies




—Sent by Mary Ann Losiewcz

Thought for the day
(today is the March for Life in Washington}

Thirty years ago, when I was an idealistic college student, I volunteered at a feminist newspaper called "off our backs." The Roe v Wade decision happened the first month I worked there. Our editorial said it didn't go far enough, because Roe requires a woman to have medical reason for abortion in the third trimester.

I thought abortion rights were going to liberate women. Since men never get pregnant, abortion would give us equality in the workplace. And since unwanted children would be aborted, it would eliminate child abuse. Roe v. Wade looked like the first step toward a wonderful new world.

Thirty years later, I'm not so sure. I've heard too many friends say, "I had to have an abortion, I didn't have any choice." I never thought about how abortion would impact other choices. But it changed the pressures a pregnant woman feels. Continuing an unplanned pregnancy can inconvenience a lot of other people ... her parents, her boss, the father of the child. Since Roe, a woman is expected to go away and deal with the problem privately. One woman told me, "I felt like everyone would be there for me if I had the abortion ... but not if I had the baby."

That must be how the numbers got to be so high ... over forty million abortions since Roe. About one for every four live births. It certainly didn't end child abuse. Since the seventies, reported child abuse cases have shot up dramatically, not declined. Yet the mothers of every single person under thirty could have chosen abortion. In that sense, every child today is a wanted child. But a child can be wanted enough during pregnancy, and not so wanted a few months later when they're crying in the middle of the night. Roe established a dangerous principle, that a child is the property of her parents; it teaches that she only deserves to live as long as they want her.

I thought future generations would thank us for winning abortion rights. But now I hear from young people who oppose abortion. They call themselves "Survivors." The mean that all of them could have been legally aborted. A lot of their generation was. For people like me, over fifty, abortion meant liberation. For young people like them, under thirty, abortion means violence. We were idealists back then, and thought Roe v Wade would create a wonderful new world. Now I think it was a tragedy.

Frederica Mathewes-Green
On National Public Radio Morning Edition, today

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