Children: The future

Best poster for any election: Children beginning kindergarten.

By Arthur H. Gunther III

      Anywhere, USA -- Last week in Upper Nyack, N.Y., it was the first day of school, and three new kindergarteners were posed by a mom in front of the building sign, a posterity shot, but also mom’s wish upon a star. Behind them was the door that would open to their future. Elsewhere in anywhere, USA, you could substitute color, ethnicity, religion, place, yes, but everywhere there were kids beginning the climb to adulthood. Will passage through all the doors of the elementary, middle school and high school years be as accessible? And when the youngsters of kindergarten America 2012 graduate in 2030, what will their futures be?

If there could be one campaign poster for the Republican and Democratic presidential runs, for Congress, state legislature, the local dogcatcher, it should be that mom’s photo from Anywhere USA. All the talk about tax rates, Social Security, greed, special interests, wars of choice, political ideology, health care, college expenses and immigration are in words these new kindergarteners do not understand. The fortunate among them can write their names, and they use the words of playtime -- super heroes, “Hello Kitty,” Disneyland. Other youngsters hear harsh words of threat and fear in circumstances that should not be tolerated in a wealthy nation.

What words will these next-year first graders hear and see and write? And in the eight grade? In 12th? Will they be those of the Horatio Algers of a nation that once had an endless frontier and much opportunity to succeed? Will they be the words of war correspondent Ernie Pyle, who so deeply shared the soul of citizen soldiers gone to battle but eager to return to home and hearth? Will they be the words of inspiring, articulate leaders who also led? Will they be the words of national allegiance and unity but with respect for differences of opinion? Most of all, will their words be of aspiration and trust, of caring, of growing confidence that when they work hard, they will do good for nation, family, self, that their faith will not be misused, abused even, by any business or government action without ethics?

We adults see a kindergartener as simple, uncomplicated, yet it may be the most complex time in life for any. When they walk through the school door, the nurturing is more greatly assumed by the trust parents have put in the system. School, government, society, all managed by older people who will some day step aside for these to-be-adult kindergarteners.

Will the smiles on that first-day school photo in everywhere, anywhere, USA, remain? That is job one in any election, and now more so that ever.

The writer is a retired newspaperman.

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art gunther III September 10, 2012 at 10:40 PM
Of course, Aidan, children are "wonder," including my own four grandkids. The point of my piece was not to involve youngsters in any way in grown-up concerns, but for the politicos to KNOW that new kindergarteners everywhere must be given fine lives, with much opportunity. We hear so many campaign promises, but those who frame the rhetoric ignore our legacy to the young.
Issy September 10, 2012 at 11:15 PM
The best legacy we can leave our kids is a healthy planet.
Aidan September 10, 2012 at 11:40 PM
Art, if you're a solid dad ... or grandad ... then you are already doing what's necessary to bring about a fine future for your child. But please spare us the expectation that politicians ( of all people!) will do their part. That's why parenting is a rough road these days ... parents are forever straightening out the truth after politicians warp it into an unrecognizable mess. And Blaue is spot on about the school stuff. They are indoctrination centers ... I know. Trust me. A certain point of view is absolutely favored there ... and pushed in any number of ways. That's what I mean by it being a "rough road". Smart parents make sure to listen to their kids and help them get a balanced perspective. Certainly something they never bargained for ... or even imagined a short time ago.
Bob Rohr September 11, 2012 at 01:16 AM
Children are all that a Society has to sustain itself. The rest of us belong to the past. Children need to be protected and nurtured, and prepared for adulthood. Some people raise Children, other raise Adults. When I was on the School Board, you would be amazed and sickened at the number of times the Administration had to notify Child Protective Services of a situation. Some of your neighbors are not what you think.
Susan Troop September 11, 2012 at 11:39 AM
Tolerance is a bad thing?


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