June 11, 2009

LKL WEB EXCLUSIVE: Back to School for Country Music Star Gretchen Wilson

Posted: 04:47 PM ET

Gretchen Wilson, along with numerous other country music stars, will be our guest tonight on LKL as we celebrate country music and its fans.  Gretchen's commentary is an LKL Web Exclusive!Gretchen-Wilson

Hey guys, it’s Gretchen Wilson.  I’m excited to talk to Larry King tonight about a topic I feel very passionate about – adult education.  I was one of many teenagers who was forced to leave home and school at a very young age. And for most people, education takes a back seat to work and financial commitment almost immediately. I know this because I was one of those people. I struggled financially until I was almost 30-years-old, and the impossible dream came true. I became a mommy…and a major recording artist for Sony Records.  Even though I was blessed with a life that most people only dream of, there was still something missing, a piece of me that was incomplete. I chose to continue my education not only for myself, but also for my daughter, Grace. She’s in second grade now, and she’s getting ready to start doing long division.

I realized that, as she got older, I would have to address important issues with her, including the educational needs that had not been met in my own life. I knew that she would be curious about things that I valued, such as an education, and that she would ask me probing questions like, if school is that important, then why didn’t you graduate? I also knew that she would need to ask me to help her with much more difficult math problems than long division, and I wanted to be ready to meet the challenge. I wanted to set a good example for her. I was determined to complete my high school education by finding a local adult education program and earning a GED, and I am proud to say that I did. I’m not only blessed, but also relieved that I’ll be able to help her with her homework next year.

I meet so many people doing what I do, when I am out on the road.  So many of them struggling to make ends meet and they cannot because they do not have high school diplomas. Their parenting skills are lacking. Many do not have the basic education skills themselves nor do they understand that they need to nurture and encourage their children to become well educated. They do not have the social skills needed to navigate the workplace, they feel inferior to their cohorts, and they often just give up. People need the tools to succeed in America, and, at the very minimum, a major tool on the road to success is a high school diploma or GED. All Americans deserve a basic education so that they can take advantage of opportunities otherwise not open to them.

Talking with adult educators, every year they are under a cloud of threats for closure or diminished funds. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to work under that type of stress. These highly educated and very dedicated men and women already work on a dime and get more bang for their buck with the dollars spent on their programs than on most federally-funded education programs. I challenge you to show me another program out there anywhere in America that does so much for its people with so little.

But we can make a difference by addressing this issue and raising awareness.  Talk to your legislators to increase funding services to help adults hone their skills and reduce waiting lists. Shape legislation that truly meets the need. Raise this issue on every front. Advocate for it everywhere you can.  Help be a pioneer that brings this silent epidemic to light!

Filed under: Education • Entertainment • LKL Web Exclusive

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Julie Williams   June 11th, 2009 9:20 pm ET

As the first person in my family to get a Bachelor's Degree (in Nursing) I completely agree that education is imperative to one's psychosocial development. Ignorance breeds ignorance. An education instills self confidence and pride. Encouraging and enabling the youth of our country to pursue and achieve educational goals is what WILL make the difference in the future of these amazing United States of America.

wanda   June 11th, 2009 9:21 pm ET

I could'nt agree more with this blog. The problem is every. I'm 43 and back in school taking my GED. Best decision I ever made. I'm from Canada and it's the same here, cuts, cuts, and no money for these programs. Adult education is to important to be put on the back burner. Good luck to all who are back in school getting their education.......

carriefan   June 11th, 2009 9:25 pm ET

Larry, why wasn't Carrie Underwood on your country show tonight???
She was noticeably absent at the George Strait tribute, also. What's up???????

Brittney Kwell   June 11th, 2009 9:25 pm ET

I'm glad you went back to school i think mothers that have dropped out either because they have had children or are getting ready to leave to early like you had to!!!! Even though I am only 13 years old and shouldn't be worrying about this kind of stuff, I still care about mothers out there have dropped out!!!! My freind cece, her mom was a drop out, and she went back got her diploma and now is going to school to be a nurse!!!!! But I am happy to hear that you are encouriging Mom's to go back to school and finish what they started!!! And I have to say Thank You!!!!!
Brittney Kwell

Jake   June 11th, 2009 9:29 pm ET

Tammy Wynette got me hooked on Country I love her great songs

Don Block   June 11th, 2009 9:30 pm ET

Thank you for publishing Gretchen's comments about adult education. Some of our state (Pennsylvania) legislators have proposed a 29% cut in state funding for the programs that Gretchen is talking about. These programs, which serve 50,000 adults in the state, only cost the state $22 million, a paltry sum compared to most other items in the budget. Cutting this tiny amount will prevent thousands of people like Gretchen from completing their education and being able to help their children with schoolwork. Those students are also able to get jobs and stay off welfare, thus saving the state large amounts of money. Gretchen is so proud of her diploma; we want all adults who need that diploma to have access to classes. Support adult education and build a stronger America! Thank you.(Larry King: Please do an entire show on this important issue.)

Christopher Kelly   June 11th, 2009 9:30 pm ET

My favorite country artist?,,,it is a draw..Sarah Evans & Martina McBride...but I love many of them...Faith Hill...Brookes and Dunn...Keith Urban to name but a few

Scott   June 11th, 2009 9:31 pm ET

My all time favorite country singer is George Jones.He is the best male country singer that there is,

Lillian Bailey   June 11th, 2009 9:38 pm ET

Why wasn't Allan Jackson on the show?

debby   June 11th, 2009 9:40 pm ET

I like Kenny Chesney

Sandy   June 11th, 2009 9:47 pm ET

Gretchen Wilson is the greatest!!!!

Jo   June 11th, 2009 9:48 pm ET

My favorite country star is Alan Jackson. I really like them all, but his voice is something else, so mellow and easy to listen to plus he writes some really good songs.

courtney 9 years old   June 11th, 2009 9:54 pm ET

how long does it take to make a song & then record it & put it on a cd or puting many other songs on a cd & make like 1,0000 copys of the cd

Elsa Miera   June 11th, 2009 10:50 pm ET

I think Gretchen is right ,we need to turn this cycle around the reason
we have so much proverty and ingnorance is due to parents not being
educated,all these young mothers on welfare must be encouraged to get their high diploma(GED)it must be a pre-req to qualifing for welfare.

Tom   June 11th, 2009 10:55 pm ET

You know when you are from the south you have someone in your family that has been hurt by not getting their education. It has effected us and indirectly the country because of our hard headed stubbornness. We pride our selves in being stupid and excuse ourselves with the excuse we are country. We talk about people being lazy when maybe not wanting to sit down and read and write is the ultimate lazy.

Lara Kelly   June 12th, 2009 12:31 am ET

I loved listening to Barbara Mandrell, Anne Murray, and Dolly Parton when I grew up. Reba is now the modern day Barbara Mandrell. I have seen Barbara in concert about 19 yrs ago and one day I will get to go to the CMA Festival and see Reba in concert as well as others.

Diane   June 12th, 2009 12:42 am ET

I'm so proud of you Gretchen, you could have just gone on without your GED, because of your success in music. You are a great role model for your daughter and every other person who needs to do this. I work in the ABLE (Adult Basic Learning Education) program and we need to get the message out there about it ,and also that it is free. We're waiting to see if we get our grant for next year. We need this program more than ever, alot of people that are getting laid off don't have their high school diploma. Keep up the great work and success with your career.

E.Marie   June 12th, 2009 1:12 am ET

I think it is wonderful that Gretchen has been so open with the public about the importance of getting her GED. There are still so many people who believe that an official high school diploma is the only legitimate route and view the GED as a "Good Enough Diploma!" When the official GED test was updated in 2002 and administered to a number of students who had graduated from high school that year, many failed the test. It is not easy. I was also a dropout many years ago during a period in my life when education was not at the top of my list of priorities. Then one day at age 28, I suddenly became a widow with two young children, working at a job I hated. I had gotten my GED at age 21 and decided it was time to return to school and finish what I had not done when I was younger. I now have three college degrees, including a masters from UVa and am currently enrolled in their EdS. program. I am also a teacher who works hard to convince my
students of the importance of a good education. Although I was a single parent, both of my children are college graduates. In fact the three of us graduated the same year! As Gretchen wrote, I felt that something was missing and I was not going to be content until I got the diploma. Congratulations Gretchen! You are an inspiration to our youth today. I have posted a list of names of famous people, including yours, who have earned their GEDs in my classroom for my students to see and enjoy watching my students' reactions as they look at it.

Lucie   June 12th, 2009 1:28 am ET

My favorite country artist~I LOVE THEM ALL! but, my fav. is Reba, she is my inspiration to get moving in the morning.

Debbie   June 12th, 2009 2:33 am ET

Gretchen, Congratulations on your GED! You are great! When Larry asked you tonight about why Country Music was different, you said Martina sang about our lives, trust me girl, you sing about a lot of us too! I too quit school and got married young, had a baby and left her father when I was 2 months pregnant. Struggled to support us, but managed, have been a redneck woman all my life and was here for the party for a lot of it! Keep making great music and know that you say it well for a lot more of us than you may realize! By the way, I also got my GED and have never regretted it, keep on speaking up about it, we need the awareness.

IGYCRH27   June 12th, 2009 3:53 am ET

Gretchen Wilson is a wonderful singer, songwriter. She says it like it is "Pure and Honest." Its REAL I look forward to every new song she records. I wish you all the best Gretchen youre a very deserving musician. Thank You for making some of the greatest music ever.

Sego (South Africa)   June 12th, 2009 6:40 am ET

Well done Gretchen! It's great to see you having gone back to school. My mother also graduated this year and received her Bachelors Degree at the age of 48. She always says that one never gets too old for education. It's never too late, she always tells my brother and I. She also encouraged me during my studies and I was the first one in my family to receive my Bachelors Degree at a one of SA's prestigious universities. According to my mother, I am not to settle with a BA, rather to go further.
Our former President, Nelson Mandela said, "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."

als   June 12th, 2009 8:07 am ET

Carrie Underwood is my favorite country star.

Roxanne from Syracuse, NY   June 12th, 2009 9:04 am ET

Hi again Gretchen,
I posted a comment for you last night but it did not appear as a post on this blog so I am trying again.
We always hear success stories of people who never graduated from high school and because they became "wealthy" it didn't matter. Thank you for standing up and saying it does matter whether a person is wealthy or not.
In 2005, 25 years after getting my high school diploma, I went back to school too. It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I now have the confidence and ambition to become anything I desire in life. I have turned my passion into helping other adults realize they can do it too! Right now I have a blog that encourages others to share their experiences and I am in the process of writing a book too. I wish you all the best and if you ever decide to go to college you won't believe how it can change your view of the world around you.

Bill   June 12th, 2009 9:14 pm ET

OMG it's a BEAUTY CONTEST GET OVER IT Carrie Seems to be so self absorbed with herself she can't see beyond her nose. She liked the organization when they gave her , her FREE BREASTS .. now she is downgrading the pageant. Get over yourself , CARRIE!

R C Myers   June 13th, 2009 12:31 pm ET

Gretchen, I saw your performance at the Houston Rodeo a few years ago - I think it was your first and only performance here. I don't know if you were aware of this, but the air was electric that night. I'm sure that the clear majority of the attendees that night were women. It was like a loop: they were getting their energy from you; and you were getting your energy from them; and it seems like the energy would double with each cycle. I think that every woman in that place was singing along with you. I've never heard so many STRONG female voices raised in song. The aggregate strength of their voices - along with yours - actually brought tears to this man's eyes. You need to make a return trip: the women here will certainly reward your effort. BTW ... congrats on your GED!!!

Ruth Wibbels   June 14th, 2009 5:37 pm ET

Who does Wynonna Judd think she is? ! ! ! When I heard what she said when you asked her if she would sing with Miley Cyrus, I was completely turned off and wil never watch her again.

Roy Mabe Jr.   June 17th, 2009 10:40 am ET

I am a lifetime country music fan ,so when I hear someone say that they are a fan of pop or rock music,I automatically think,"You don't what good music is or you're missing out", they probably think the same of me when I say I am a country fan , but you have to stand up for what you believe in in this world.

MrsK.   July 20th, 2009 10:13 pm ET

I also left high school before graduation. After my first son was born, I went back, got my GED and never really thought too much about it. When I was forty years old, I went to work as a Special Education paraprofessional/teaching assistant at the school my two youngest boys attended. Within a few years, the desire to become a teacher became very strong. Long story short, I graduated in 2007 with a BS in Elementary Education and I'm still at the same school. This year, will be my first in a Special Education classroom and I have just finished the first 70 hours of approximately 900 hours of training and application to become an Certified Academic Language Therapist. I would love to help out in a counseling or encouragement roll if needed. IF I CAN DO IT, ANYONE CAN DO IT!!!!!

Sharon   September 9th, 2009 11:18 pm ET

Glad to see that Grethen is getting her GED. I went back to school after I got married. I am so glad I did. My ex-hushand was very support. I ended up getting a divorce after 32 1/2 years of marriage. So glad I did that because you do not what will happen. For now I am unemployed. But hopefully and with Lord's help it won't be long, I will be working again. Take Care.

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