I am not a fan of the news in general but last night a story caught my ear. A mother in Tampa, Rhonda Holder, was fed up with her son’s failing grades and FCAT scores so she did something about it. What she did was put her son on the street corner for 8 hours with a sign. The sign reads: “I did four questions on my FCAT and said I wasn’t going to do it. GPA 1.2222222. Honk if I need education.” After the news story broke, some have been calling her a bad mother and equating her actions to child abuse. As a parent, I say “way to go Rhonda!”.
Rhonda’s son, 15 year old James, is not taking his education seriously. Rhonda Holder said she has tried other approaches, like taking his cell phone away from him, but non of that has worked. Her whole premise is that if he doesn’t get an education, that is the only job he will get so he better get started early. She is absolutely right; without an education he doesn’t stand a chance in the job market. Her hopes is that embarrassment and what it feels like to stand on that street corner for 8 hours a day will help him realize he needs an education. This isn’t going to be a one time thing for James either. Rhonda intends him to work a different corner over the next couple of weeks until he straightens out his act.
There are some who see what Rhonda is doing as a bad thing or her being a bad mother. That is a bunch crap. She is nearby so he isn’t standing out there alone, it is being done during daylight hours, the child is 15 years old and most importantly he isn’t being harmed. There are the “experts” and people who feel that a child’s self-esteem is the most important thing in the world above all else; so embarrassing him publicly is wrong. Yes, self-esteem is important but so is an education. James will survive the embarrassment but he won’t survive if he doesn’t get an education.
I have addressed this issue about self-esteem in the past. I disagree with the “experts”. Self-esteem is important but it is not the only thing. Great self-esteem alone is not the ticket to a great future. Children need a mix of different knowledge, skills and abilities. Children need to learn to cope with disappointment, embarrassment, hurt, sadness and the plethora of not so positive emotions that are out there and they will be confronted with. Shielding children from the harsh realities of the real world and then sending them out into that real world unprepared is abuse. I don’t suggest creating situations but I certainly disagree with shielding children from them entirely. This is also a 15 year old child. By 15 he should have started taking some responsibility for his life. At 16 this same child can get a driver’s license. At 18 he can vote. Enough with the self-esteem, what he needs is a little self-respect and an education. Giving him a taste of where his life is heading.
I say way to go Rhonda. As a parent we have to take charge of our children’s education. We as parents have to make sure they get the education they need. The school system is not going to make that child do his work. If the traditional methods aren’t working then, as a parent, it is time to think outside of those traditional methods and find something that will work. I applaud her strength and determination to help her child get the education he needs.