Merced County Times Newspaper
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For Lack Of A School Uniform, She Did Not Attend School

John Derby
John Derby

She knocked at the door, and when we opened it, the little girl had a small cooler chest. In the cooler chest were cups of fresh squeezed orange juice that she was selling for $1.25 each.

Her English was not good, but she tried to explain the reason she was selling the cups of orange juice was because she needed a uniform so she could attend school.

The young girl was the daughter of the woman who cooked at the local cafe here in our beach town on the coast of Baja California, Mexico. The girl had not been attending school because she might be laughed at, or the school might not allow her to attend without a uniform.

Every other child in the local school had somehow managed to raise enough money in this very poor town to have a matching school uniform.

Worldwide, there are similar scenes being played out. Basic education is so important to an impoverished community, and yet a small thing like the cost of a school uniform can stand in the way.

As we bought two of the cups of orange juice, we were sure the young girl knew her chance of selling the juice would be better if she spoke some English.

Most people here do not speak English; however, we were sure there were a lot of Americans who stopped at her mother’s cafe and the young girl had picked up the English from them.

We come from a privileged country where education is free to all who want it, yet in some cases the free education is not appreciated. On the world stage, the rating of our schools was once at the very top of the scale. Now that is no longer the case.

Somehow, the student loan program as sponsored by the government, has become a burden on students wanting to become educated. Instead of offering an equal chance for all students to receive higher education, it has left many in high debt.

Now government looks for ways to bail these students out, but it is another case of government causing its own problem which seems impossible to solve.

We are indebted to California for providing us a college education in the mid-1950s for practically nothing, and our local community college provides much the same for the first two years. Nevertheless, a university level education remains out of reach for many.

The result is now, many jobs, even government ones, are not requiring a degree.

These were our thoughts as we watched the little girl who hoped to pay for her uniform, selling cups of orange juice, door to door.

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