June 11, 2009
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!
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!
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