Ada Fisher: A relative request: Graduation ticket, please

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 17, 2011

Repeatedly the media and educators complain about parents, family and citizens who arenít engaged with young people as they attempt to matriculate through the educational system. Too often we have silently taken it, knowing such is not true.
For the last several years, I have received invitations from my nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews, all of whom I know by name, have an idea of their interests and try to support their efforts to graduate at any level from our institutions of higher education. And yet, all of my family cannot attend these ceremonies because we canít get tickets to graduation ceremonies.
It seems inconceivable that parents continually invest heavily in their childrenís graduation only to come to appreciate ó after all of that debt ó they sometimes wonít be allowed entrance into these ceremonies. If they get a seat, they will be roped off and discouraged from taking pictures up close and personal for the occasion. And for some, this may be their last chance to see their progeny strut their stuff.
There ought to be a law or at least an understanding if a child graduates from any public institution, he should be allowed to invite and expect a seat for as many family members as may chOose to attend, even if it has to be on a first come, first seated basis.
There should also be an expectation, if a child has met the criteria for graduation, that he should have a right to march across the stage to receive his diploma rather than stand en mass with his department or school and then be seated.
And there should be no charge to graduates for the diploma itself after monies have been taken for years for their course of study.
In times of decreased funding for public education, an end-of-matriculation experience also reveals that convenient parking is an oxymoron and morons may be in charge of campus designs making accessibility a major hurdle for the handicapped and elderly.
For those dealing with students on the four-year-plus undergraduate plan, in part due to their inability to get the courses they want, UNC-Greensboro has developed a three-year undergraduate plan designed to cut costs and get graduates out into the world of work.
Another way to relieve the graduation bottleneck is to decrease the size of our state universities, capping them at no more than 25,000 students and designing suitable green and asphalt spaces for those enrolled. This should force students to the underutilized state universities while maintaining academic quality and accessibility throughout the stateís higher educational systems. A model of this is the University of Wisconsin educational system, which offers high schoolers a contract and guarantees every student with better than a 3.0 GPA or B average in the top half of his class a seat at a state university.
By mandate, it is the province of states, not the federal government, to provide an education for their students. It is time we did a better job at this and made our students competitive.
It is also past time that the responsibility of our institutions require them to have courses students may need to graduate within a four-year college cycle and that costs be lowered through endowment supplements, adequate internships and other supplementary work experiences relevant to their course of study. They should also insure that adequate safe housing is available to all freshmen and sophomores as well as those under 18.
Education beyond high school isnít a matter of luck and good grades; it must be a pathway to somewhere that will allow students to provide for themselves. Unless you want your child as a permanent resident with you, degree relevance to the world of self-sufficiency and work is equally if not more important than just going to college. Vocational education in fields such as heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, construction logistics, trucking or certified assistants in nursing, child care, home health, etc. are our boots on the ground to grease the wheels of a well-run society. The value of manual labor should never be underestimated or underappreciated for everyone can and should be required to do something with their lives besides drawing a check.

Dr. Ada M. Fisher of Salisbury, a former school board member, is the N.C. Republican national Committee Woman. Contact her at P. O. Box 777; Salisbury, NC 28145 or DrFisher@GETADOCTOR