Imagine you’re a teacher in Polk County. Almost every teacher has an inborn love of teaching and for their students. However, the state has said that isn’t enough, and mandated that teacher pay is dependent on their ability to teach the students, as measured on state tests.

Now imagine you’re focused on these goals, and one of your poorly performing students stops to talk to you. Aren’t you hoping he’s asking for additional help on some of the assignments he skipped? Maybe to have something explained again that he didn’t understand?

What one teacher told me is the reality. The student says, “I don’t have to work, my dad doesn’t work, and I don’t have to either.” And after the initial surprise wears off, you say to yourself, “He’s right.”

He'll walk with pride at the graduation ceremony, side by side with students who actually studied and did the work and earned their grades, and pick up his "attendance diploma" from the superintendent. The superintendent will wink and say, "Great job!" knowing that the statistics don't differentiate, so it makes the district look successful to the unsuspecting gullible public.

He’ll get his food provided for, his housing provided for, his Obamacare and/or Medicaid for nothing, his Obamaphone for nothing. Maybe he’ll have to pay for his cable TV, but not the local channels.

If President John Kennedy spoke his famous phrase today — “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” — he’d be laughed out of the country.

Kevin Kayden, Bartow