To Live, Learn, and Die in Halifax Co.
I am a lifestyle writer not a journalist. I normally write about funny stuff: love, life, and a laughter. I like making people laugh not think; I leave that to serious people. When I posted this essay it wasn't to attack anyone and it wasn't to be attacked or chided in return. Normally my posts get about 100 views in a couple of weeks but within two hours of me posting this piece it had over 1000 views. Let me be clear, I am not an expert on schools, I am not an expert on taxation, I am not an expert on the finances of Halifax County. However, anyone with two eyes can look around and see that Halifax County is SUFFERING. I wrote this piece because I have seen the effects that our piss poor schools have had on my generation and all subsequent generations. I spoke about my grandmother's work ethic and her desire to see her children do better not to focus on her parenting. It was to focus on the fact that the textile mills GAVE her the opportunity to provide a better life for her children and thus her children's children. Tell me of any job in Roanoke Rapids these days that you can provide for a family of five WITHOUT a college degree. As a matter of fact show me the number of jobs in Roanoke Rapids outside of education that require a college degree and would allow for someone to take care of their family. I did not write this piece to attack anyone. However, if it pissed you off understand this I do not care because nine times out of ten your child doesn't attend one of those schools with the leaky roof or inadequate textbooks. If I hurt your feelings, I do not care. Understand that, I absolutely do not care and I do not make not one single apology about anything I said. If I offended you, I do not care and I will sleep just as good tonight as I did last night and the night before that. However, what I do lose sleep over is the fact that children are suffering because of political posturing and questionable district lines. This piece isn't about me or my family. I just used my family and my background to show the difference that a good job can make. However, the days of the good textile mill jobs are gone and to have a good job these days you have to have a degree. Most of the schools in Halifax County do not have the resources to provide our children with a 21st century education and the ability to graduate from a college/university or a trade school. If you want to blame it on the parenting or your perceived lack thereof, feel free to do so. However, ask yourself this why should children suffer because of the shortcomings of their parents? Kids should not be doomed because of circumstances beyond their control such as where they live or the circumstances they were born into. And yes, a child's home situation is something that is hard to overcome but believe it or not schools with good resources DO make a difference. One of the keys points that so many of my critics woefully looked over was the fact that I spoke about EXPOSURE and how the lack of funding in our schools limits the amount exposure our children receive. I am not for or against the merger of the school districts. I am for the equitable treatment of the children no matter if they live in P&J Trailer Court or on Dunshill Road. I want to see children succeed whether they are from Scoco Park or Becker Farms. A sound education is the greatest equalizer in society. If the biggest issue you can find in my piece is that the taxation information was "inaccurate" then you missed the whole point of what I was trying to say. If you really can honestly say you believe that kids at Chaloner and kids at William R. Davie are getting the same kid of treatment I have a bridge across the Roanoke River to sell you plus the rockfish fishing rights to boot. Not just Halifax County is suffering but many of the northeastern NC counties are suffering because of the inherent link between poverty and education. Without an educated workforce, we cannot even draw in the kind of jobs that would make a REAL difference. This issues in Halifax County just like anywhere else are complex and multi-layered and there is no magic solution to make everything better. But I do know this, good schools make a difference. No companies is going to open up a new location and try to recruit employees to the area if the schools are bad. No school system in our area has over a "C" grade for the state of North Carolina. Our kids can't compete with the kids from Wake or Mecklenberg County let alone the children from across the country. But I digress...
As I wrote this piece I often glanced over at the picture of my four-year-old daughter, Ryleigh. She is going to Pre-K next year. When I look at her picture I’m not thinking about her as much as I’m thinking about her young, beautiful, and bright classmates who I know that if something in Halifax County does not change will never be able to reach their full potential as learners and then leaders.
|Photocredits: Ryan D. Daniels|
“Double R” is the third poorest city in America. Not just in North Carolina not just in the Southeastern United States but it is the third poorest city in the whole entire United States of America. Once upon a time, Roanoke Rapids was a thriving place full of bustling textile mills. As a matter of fact, if you’ve seen the movie Norma Rae, it is based off of one of the textile mills in Roanoke Rapids. My grandmother, Pearl, is one of the many people who went to work in those mills and put food on the table because of those mills. At the age of 82, she still speaks fondly and proudly of the work she did there and the satisfaction she felt from making her own money. Her hands are now crippled by carpal tunnel and arthritis from the twenty-nine years of hard work she put in for JP Stevens and Westpoint textile mills. She was able to send my mother to college and paid for it cash money and provide for her children with that mill paycheck.
Author Note: In an early draft I noted that Chalenor Middle School is located in Lincoln Heights it is located in Hodgestown.