Students with struggles deserving of extra effort

Guest Editorial

This letter is in response the atrocious column written by Hi-Line senior writer Alex Entz. In his column, he not only has offended “struggling” students that attend CFHS but the hard working teachers that try to help these students succeed in school and in life.

Here is a short story of a “struggling” student I taught when I was the At-Risk Science teacher in Clinton, Iowa, for my first two years teaching. I had a girl in class that averaged D- grades and had the worst behavior in the school; many weeks she spent more time in suspension than in class. Seems like a student who doesn’t care or try; she’s one of those seven students wasting ALPHA space and the school’s resources, right? Nope, here is her life story.
At only 14 she had been tasked with raising her five brothers and sisters, not by choice, but because her mom was a drug addict and compulsive gambler. Most nights she would not see her mom and on nearly as many would go hungry, as there was no money for food. When she finally would get her sibling’s needs taken care of and get them in bed by 11 p.m., she would be too tired to do more than 20 minutes of studying or homework. She would have to wake up at 5 a.m. to get the young ones ready for school or the babysitter, rarely having any food for breakfast. She would come to class having gotten little sleep, no food since her last school lunch (gotten free due to poverty level), and having to be an adult when her friends were at home last night looking at FaceBook or texting on cell phones more expensive than all the possessions she owned. School wasn’t a place of education for her; it was an escape from life.

Let’s be clear of one thing: this girl was intelligent, a natural leader and had a very caring heart. However, life was a daily struggle to survive, and school was low on her priority list. Most likely she would be forced to drop out of high school to help pay the bills. Is she any less deserving of a chance to succeed? Is she less worthy of resources than other students? Programs like the Learning Lab offer another way for students to get credits they need to graduate and succeed in life. Without it, many students may simply give up. Doing bad in school isn’t a simple issue. While some kids don’t care, many have never been told they are worth it. They may have never been told they are loved or that they can make something of themselves if they work hard to overcome the obstacles. We teachers battle to help these student realize that they can make it, many times staying late and coming in early.

We as a society often look down at the less successful as broken or inferior, rather than trying to figure out what to do to help. It is my challenge to the “over-achievers” and the ALPHA students to stop “playing games,” as Mr. Entz refers to ALPHA’s activities, and become tutors and mentors to kids at CFHS and at other schools in the district. If you truly want to get useful college preparation and life experience, help those around you, don’t complain about them.

Scott Bohlmann

Biology teacher

Class of 2014

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