August 14, 2010
Saturday found several of us out walking the precinct between Campbell and Grant, from Catalpa to Mt. Vernon. Meeting and talking to people within the 138th always reminds me how diverse this district really is. Jane and I talked with several individuals as we made our way from street to street. I met a lady who lives in a beautiful old Georgian home on Market Street – we talked for quite a while about the neighborhood and the 47 years she has lived there. There was a 100% disabled veteran on Catalpa who questioned why things can’t be simpler, and why he can’t get the help he needs for his medical problems. As we turned the corner to walk a portion of Main, we were turned back by a barking and chained large dog in a side yard. That is always Jane’s worst nightmare, so we backtracked to Normal. Rounding the corner, we happened upon two young men sitting on the tailgate of a truck. They were students at Parkview and we had a very insightful, interesting conversation with them. They asked questions and seemed genuinely interested in the issues of the economy and taxes, and what my opinions were on each of them. After a few minutes, our discussion turned to their lives and experiences in school. One of the young men, who was very articulate and seemed knowledgeable on the issues of the day, was a former debate student, and has made the decision to drop out of school. His reasons included poor judgments he had made while attending school and the financial pressures at home which caused him the need to help support his family. One comment he made was that he needed to get a full time job and work towards his GED at home, so his family could avoid foreclosure. Jane and I often talk about the needs we see in the young people who are constantly torn between an education and providing more stability for their families. It seems to me that we need to open lines of communication to these young people, reaching out to them as we work together to find ways for them to continue their high school education. Solutions to this problem, by their very nature, must come on an individual basis. These students all feel the same pressure, but the reasons for this pressure are individual in nature, and therefore the solutions can’t be a cookie-cutter approach. Each solution must be developed through a dialogue, just like we had with these two young men on a tailgate of a pickup.