Saturday, January 17, 2015

The M Word...A Viable Option

Post by Robbie Furne: Robbie is in his 11th year of teaching social studies at Bettendorf High School. He began his career as a special education teacher & has also served as a football coach for 16 years. You can follow Robbie on Twitter @bettftballcoach

When asked to write in this blog, I thought about my educational experience at BHS.  I struggled in class, primarily due to my immaturity, but also because I knew that I wasn't going to college right after school.  The last thing I wanted to do was go sit in more classes, I wanted to get out of Bettendorf and go check out the world.  The United States Marine Corps allowed me to see the world, but it also did something even more important, it made me grow up.   As I stand in the hallway during passing or run into former students who have ‘left Iowa’ and are taking classes at Scott, I wonder how many of these kids would have benefited from the military as a viable option before they spent a lot of their parents money and time.  Let me preface this by saying the military isn't for most people but I also think schools can do a better job of informing/promoting students about their benefits.

            I have come up with a few reasons/benefits that may make you stop and think a bit or if you share with your students, they may think about it.  I will also offer insight to how these were reasons I chose also.

   says the COA, Cost of Attendance, as directed by Congress, is the average cost to attend for one academic year.  It includes tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, transportation, and personal expenses. Grinnell College is $59,317 and the University of Iowa is $20,861. 
I came from a lower middle class family.  There was not money for me to attend college. I had to pay for it myself so before I was going to spend that much money, I wanted to make sure it was going to be a wise investment.  At 18 years old, it would have been a horrible investment.

            In 2008, the Veterans Affairs Department introduced the Post 911 GI Bill.  With this new program, instate tuition (housing stipend, books, 1 time relocation) is covered for 36 months.  Also, while in active duty, the costs of taking online or traditional classes are covered.  Most colleges and universities will also give a veteran credit for their service in selected areas.
            I was able to start my college classes while I was living in Uruguay working for the embassy.  I took 12 hours of elective classes that Scott Community accepted.  I also did not have to take in physical education classes at St Ambrose College.

            The National Center for Educational Statistics stated that the 2012 graduation rate for first-time, full-time undergraduate students who began their pursuit of a bachelor’s degree at a 4-year degree-granting institution in fall 2006 was 59 percent. 
            Obviously there are a number of different reasons that can go into this percentage.  I believe maturity has a big part to do with it though.  A lot of the time, eighteen year-old's are not ready for the responsibilities that come with being away from home for the first time and struggle.  I was one of those who would have struggled and needed to ‘grow up’.  Being away, having to take care of my own personal and financial responsibilities really helped me in the future.   

Life Experiences
            For me, the greatest attraction to join the Marines was to not only get out of Iowa but also to get out of the country.  I went on two deployments to Africa and the Middle East.  I was stationed at the American Embassies in Brazzaville, Congo and Montevideo, Uruguay.  I was fortunate enough to meet President Clinton, Hilary Clinton, Madeline Albright, and Jane Goodall to name a few.  I witnessed civil war, participated in humanitarian operations in Kenya, and spent a New Year’s Eve in United Arab Emeritus.  In total, I have been to 35 countries!  I will cherish those experiences for a life time.

            I won’t put up any facts or figures in this paragraph.  What I am going to say is that I think the youth of today has lost their sense of patriotism and that disappoints me.  With all of the distractions kids have today, something as little as paying attention during the National Anthem can be seen as a nuisance for a teenager who cannot remove their thumbs from their phone.  There is no easy way to solve this problem but parents, teachers, communities, and schools can and should all do their part in teaching everyone about this great country.  This renewed commitment could lead to additional youths who would proudly serve our country. 

            As mentioned before, the military is not the answer for everyone, probably not for a large number of students at BHS.  But, as I say that, I truly believe it can be a great benefit.  The military builds leaders and this is an area that America is lacking.  As you talk with your students about post high school options, I ask you to please consider putting in a plug for The United States Military as an option.  

Freedom isn't free.

Boot Camp 1992                          Kuwait 1996                                                                                                                                                                     Congo 1997                           

1 comment:

  1. Great post Robbie. Thanks for serving our country and for being such a positive influence for the students at BHS.