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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Stay In School, Kids!

Recently, through no fault of my own, I witnessed a television commercial that solicited school dropouts to text a number or to view a website to receive a “you-can-do-it” pep talk from a celebrity that would encourage them to get their GED.

I guess this works because celebrities are always such role models and paragons of intelligensia.

Which celebrity would you like to tell you how to live your life (pick only one):
Charlie Sheen
Alec Baldwin
Wynona Ryder
Lindsay Lohan
Mel Gibson

Sorry, but Whitney Houston, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Anna Nicole Smith are no longer available to offer their support.

If I were part of the less-than-undergraduate-degree world, the only celebrity I would want cheering me on to continue my education would be Rosanne Barr, in character, because she could probably most accurately replicate the nagging mother: Darlene, if I told you once, I told you a thousand times, dropping out of high school limits your career opportunities to spokesmodel and crack whore, so get your ass in gear and go study for your GED, because you’re not straight enough to be a spokesmodel.

I went to this website, and the only celebrity I recognized was Jerry Stiller, who apparently has fallen on rough times since Seinfeld and The King of Queens have gone off the air. I checked his resume, and he did graduate from college. Some of the celebrities on that website are sketchy and lesser known. There is some guy named Danny Trejo who might talk you into getting your General Equivalency Degree, but do you really want advice from someone who looks like this:

Frankly, I’m afraid that if I look at that picture too long, I’ll turn to stone, so why would I want inspiration from this ruddy guy, whoever he is? I suspect it took a few hours for him to learn how to master using that headset.

If I were a kid struggling with school, I’d want some reassurance from a peer. I’d want Jack Andraka, that gay 16-year-old kid who invented a near 100% accurate test for pancreatic cancer.

I wouldn’t want advice from, say, Beyonce, who got stinkin’ rich without having graduated from high school. That kinda sends the wrong message.

I don’t know who to blame for our modern opinion that celebrities are role models. Sure, there are a handful of celebrities who perform charitable acts and have good heads on their shoulders and help out in natural disasters, but these aren’t the celebrities that high school dropouts favor. They favor single-digit-IQ celebrities like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, who are famous for—I don’t know—being rich, I guess. And you don’t see them encouraging at-risk youth to further their education. They’re too busy trying to decide which shade of blond to recommend to their colorists to dye their roots with.

How many people do you suppose, upon receiving their GED, say in their magna cum laude speeches, “I’d like to thank the greater Hollywood community for all their support and pre-recorded pep talks that gave me the initiative to be here today and understand the meaning of 5 syllable words like ‘initiative.’”

If you look on the GED Pep Talk website in the tiny fine print at the bottom, you’ll discover that this whole program is brought to you by the Dollar General Store Literacy Foundation.

I think they could have pushed through a lot more graduates if they just put a sign on the door of every store that read: “Go back to school so you don’t have to shop here the rest of your life.”

(photo credit:

Creative Commons License by Bill Wiley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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