ANNVILLE, Pa. (AP) – Brittany Vojta survived boot camp. It was high school she couldn’t make it through. Now, however, she has benefited from a program the National Guard started this year in Pennsylvania for privates who drop out of high school after signing up.
In an old barracks at Fort Indiantown Gap, the 18-year-old Cleveland woman and other dropouts spent three intensive weeks in class this summer to help them pass their GEDs – so they would meet the minimal educational requirement for staying in the Guard.
Straining to fill its ranks with the Iraq war in its fifth year, the military is taking on an ever bigger role providing basic education to new recruits. The strategy is potentially risky for the military as it strives to maintain the quality of its force, but it’s giving dropouts like Vojta a second chance.
“Something happened in that soldier’s life that was bad. … We have the ability to stop another bad action from happening – them getting discharged from the military,” said Sgt. 1st Class John Walton, 32, who started the Pennsylvania program. He says it is not about filling quotas but helping the troops.
I have to salute the military, the Pa. Guard, for doing this, I know a guy from many years ago that had serious family trouble at home, he was a Senior in high school but his relationship with his Dad was far less that desirable, he quit school and went into the military, they would take you back then if your test scores were high enough, with the caveat that you must finish your education and earn your GED before you were through with basic training or boot camp and allowed to fully graduate with your platoon.
He went on to enjoy a very successful career and excelled at his every endeavor, he gained much confidence once he was in an environment where he could express himself and was encouraged instead of belittled, and he continued his education, earning 2 degrees, just think what a loss it would have been if the military had turned him down and denied him the opportunity to reach for the stars and make a better person of himself.
While that program is aimed at keeping recruits in uniform, the Army and Army National Guard also reach out to past dropouts – some of them already years out of school – with a promise of helping them get their GEDs if they enlist. More than 13,000 recruits have earned GEDs through the program, known as Education Plus, which started in 2005.
Pennsylvania’s GED program is aimed at soldiers who enlisted in high school while in good academic standing, then failed to graduate. The military allows people as young as 17 to join, if they have permission from a parent.
And by giving our young people this chance we may well be cultivating the greatest leader in military history, or a scientist that discovers the cure for cancer, or perhaps the next great president, or an award winning writer that can paint a picture with his words.
There are some kids that just don’t get it in high school, no matter how hard they try, I had one subject that dealt me fits, Algebra, and I failed it 2 years in a row, 2 years in the same class with the same teacher and I failed it twice, well, looking back through eyes that have seen a lifetime of experiences since then, I have come to the conclusion that I, and several others that failed that same class, more than once, weren’t necessarily failures.
I look back and see the records OF that class and teacher and I feel that SHE failed US, we didn’t fail, she just wasn’t a great teacher, or, actually, she wasn’t an educator, and that happens to many kids, not just the ‘bad’ kids, even kids that want to learn, kids that have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, and maybe the Army IS the place for them to get that right touch that they so desperately need to succeed in life.
“I never understood math … for four years in high school I couldn’t do it,” said Vojta, a private first class with the Ohio National Guard who passed her GED test and hopes next to become a military police officer. “Come here for a couple of weeks and I got it down because they’ve actually taken the time to explain it.”
I applaud the Guard for this program, I know they are producing WINNERS, and I know that we, the citizens of the USA, will benefit from this program as these fine young people go on to bigger and better careers than they could have even imagined as drop outs.
Just because a kid can’t quite grasp the standard high school curriculum doesn’t mean they can’t go on to great things with the proper guidance, and this program is providing that guidance.
Defense analyst Cindy Williams at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said the military could be hurting itself over the long term by recruiting dropouts. The Department of Defense’s own studies over 40 years have shown that soldiers with regular high school diplomas are more likely than those with an equivalent degree to finish an enlistment term.
And suppose this analyst is able to convince the military to do away WITH the program?? Money saved?? Sure, but suppose this program produces the next Gen. George Patton??
Then it’s worth every penny it cost and every effort put forth to make it work, I don’t look at this as lowering the standards, I look at this as leadership and development training, taken from a different approach.
Full Story Here:
Military Opens Door to More Dropouts