Riverside School Superintendent David Garner asked Danny Morgan what schools could do to help teach students “soft skills.”

Morgan was the speaker at the recent El Reno Now breakfast. He operates a family-owned oil well service company and is a former state representative.

Morgan said the toughest challenges to the oil and gas industry in Oklahoma are lack of infrastructure to move products, not enough pipelines and labor issues.

New pipelines are being built or have come online to help move Oklahoma-produced energy, mostly to south Texas, which should help address one challenge, but the other, the labor issue, is a bit more complex.

Soft skills, Morgan said, include things like showing up to work on time, having a valid driver’s license and being able to pass a drug test.

His suggestion to Garner’s question of what schools could do to help teach or instill these qualities in students sounded simple.

“Hold parents accountable,” Morgan said.

Morgan said as a state lawmaker he once visited a school to talk to youngsters about life and career choices.

Morgan said the school’s principal told him the class he was about to talk with was his toughest group of students.

Only a few of the more than 20 kids lived with both parents. A larger number lived with one biological parent and might have “stepbrothers or sisters” living with them that they really didn’t want because they had to compete with them for attention.

About a half dozen kids in the class were living with grandparents.

The principal said the generational challenges in those arrangements were “considerable.”

The question that came to my mind while listening to this exchange was could things change if our government stopped trying to be the parent?

If the government quit taking responsibility for so many areas of life, would we see people actually rise up and use the God-given abilities and talents with which they were blessed?

We often hear “experts” say some human problems are “generational” and the “cycle” has to be broken.

This is probably true.

But could that same rationale also apply to some government programs that are intended to help, but might actually serve to keep people trapped?