Monmouth Beach Educates a Doctor
When my father was in his late 40s he ran for a seat on the Monmouth Beach School Board of Education (as if he didn’t already have enough to do, being a busy physician, husband and father of 8 children). He lost, badly. But I give him credit for trying.
Hurting his chances in 1966, aside from the fact that many thought him an “out-of-touch-doctor,” was that he strongly advocated “college” for all children in our small seaside community. Back then the annual school budget was only about $160,000. Turn out for that board election was about 60% of registered voters; Dad got just 163 votes.
One of his chief campaign planks was: “Primary schools should discipline the mind toward higher education. One is inseparable from the other.” Dad strongly believed that a college education was key to securing a satisfying and successful future.
Another theme he ran on was academic accountability: “Improve the report card system — don’t destroy it. Everyone needs a goal.” Then school principal Don Stevens had proposed eliminating report cards. He had some support on the board.
Clearly, dad was a troublemaker. Back in the 1960s, my mom chalked up the loss to some “clam-diggers” who didn’t agree with his goals. But I’m not sure that dad was such great a candidate. Doctors orders and all.
“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”
And getting a college degree is still a fairly unique accomplishment, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, only about 1 in 3 Americans have one.
A recent poll by New America was mixed: While 75% think it’s easier to be successful with a college degree, only 25% think our higher education system is functioning well now. And about 50% believe there are many well-paying jobs that don’t require college attendance.
Beyond just the enormous expense (according to the College Board, the average annual cost of public college is near $25,000; at a private college it’s about $50,000), one can certainly wonder and worry about the direction and culture on many of today’s college campuses. Even still, the learning journey is worthwhile.
A wise person once told me that you really only remember one thing on the day you earn your college degree — the reaction on your parent’s face. In all my years spent with Dr. Charles W. Kelly, I never remember a happier face than his on the day I became a college graduate in May 1983.