09/02/10 — Why coach? New programs will cost less than the cost of losing a teen.

View Archive

Why coach? New programs will cost less than the cost of losing a teen.

They weren't related -- the two stories that appeared in Wednesday's newspaper. One was a good news story about a new graduation coach at Southern Wayne High School. The other was another story about another teenager who will face charges that will effectively ruin his life.

But if you look at the two together, just for a minute, you will see why we cannot wait any longer to do something about the number of children slipping through the cracks in Wayne County schools.

Although we do not know the complete story about this 17-year-old, or any of the others who have been charged with crimes this year, we can be pretty sure that they share some traits: most have not had the best home lives; and most did not finish high school.

A program like the one at Southern Wayne High School -- and its sister operation at Goldsboro High -- are designed to really dig deep and to offer alternatives to those students who need a little help finding their paths to college, careers and fulfilling lives.

The money spent is a small investment compared to the cost of providing health care, housing and food for an inmate for decades -- not to mention the costs associated with the legal process of putting them in prison in the first place.

It is a better investment to show these children another way, to catch them before they destroy their lives -- even if, by rights, the responsibility for saving them should be with their parents.

We can show them the difference a high school diploma makes and give them a glimpse of what life is like when you have a job to go to and the means to make your own way.

We can give them the extra support they need and might not be getting at home -- either because their parents can't or won't push education as a means to a better life.

We can give them the confidence and other choices that will help them say no to the other temptations and influences that are out there. We can save a few from choosing a life on welfare, or worse, selling and using drugs.

The money we are investing in these programs is no substitute for the accountability we should demand from the parents who brought these children into this world. They have responsibilities, too.

However, if we can help Southern Wayne boost its already successful efforts to improve graduation rates, and even more students from Goldsboro High take home diplomas this year, the money will be well-spent. And we might even spend less time shaking our heads as we think about more young lives lost and the high costs of our prisons and courts.

Published in Editorials on September 2, 2010 10:22 AM