Gretchen Wilson: High-politic Redneck
Jessica Phillips | May 7, 2009
"Redneck Woman" singer Gretchen Wilson was in Washington this week, speaking to about 150 members of Congress to encourage more funding for Adult Education Programs. She was invited to tell her own (much-publicized) story of dropping out of high school as a teenager, and then returning to earn her GED at age 34 through a local Adult Education program in Nashville. During her speech, she mentioned that 1 in 5 American adults has not finished high school, and that many do not have the financial resources to take the courses they would need to earn a GED.
As a successful musician and businesswoman, what drove her to finish her education? "I realized that, as my daughter got older, I would have to address important issues with her, including the educational needs that had not been met in my own life. I knew that she...would ask me probing questions like, if school is that important, then why didn't you graduate? I also knew that she would need to ask me to help her with much more difficult math problems than long division, and I wanted to be ready to meet the challenge. I wanted to set a good example for her. I was determined to complete my high school education...and I am proud to stand here today and say that I did. I'm not only blessed, but also relieved that I'll be able to help her with her homework next year." she said.
Coming from a family with relatives who did not graduate from high school, this writer understands how lacking basic skills can affect every area of life-it is harder to get a well-paying job, to fit in socially, to manage a household, to understand finances, and to teach your own children. I applaud Gretchen for taking steps to make legislators aware of this issue in our country. Regardless of whether a person is 35 or 95, returning to school to earn a GED or a college degree, every American should have access to a solid education.
You can read her moving speech here.
Of course, Gretchen isn't the first female country singer to advocate higher education for adults. Check out this classic video from redheaded diva Reba McEntire, "Is There Life Out There":