William Chaplar

(August 18,1961 / Trenton, New Jersey)

Because We Can


I'm always hearing how our schools are facing dire straits;
this disturbing anomaly of low graduation rates.
What I can't help but wonder, though, as I think this thing through,
is what—if anything—there is that each of us can do.
Can any of us sit each day with some three-year-old child
and take about an hour or so to read to her a while?
Can any adult—man or woman—take paper and pen
and show a child who's pre-school-aged the way to count to ten?
And what about the chances that a neighbor who's disabled
could help a nine-year-old with the multiplication table?
Can someone who has been to prison offer up his time
to teach fifth graders how to take their own bite out of crime?
Can any grownup down the street or even right next door
sit with a seventh grader and discuss the Civil War?
Is there a possibility that some disabled vet
might teach a high school freshman the location of Tibet?
Could the man who earns his living working as a lawyer
sit with a high school junior and talk about Tom Sawyer?
Is it plausible that someone who is unemployed
might teach someone to find the area of trapezoids?
And what about the guy who fixes your broken windshield?
Could he explain what happened on the D-Day battlefield?
What of the feasibility that some retired guy
could help a kid to calculate by using x and y?
Can anyone who lives in an American suburb
explain the subtle difference between a noun and verb?
Is the woman who sees patients everyday unable
to quiz her neighbor's children on the Periodic Table?
Could it happen that a building's oldest resident
might discuss with a student how we choose our president?
The longer that I sit and ponder this anomaly,
the more I'm certain it can be rectified easily.
Instead of looking elsewhere for some billion dollar plan,
let's simply do what we can do…just because we can!

Submitted: Thursday, February 14, 2013

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