BARBOURVILLE, Kentucky –
Barbourville, KY is in one of the most financially strapped school districts in America. With most families having a median income well below the national poverty line, public schools in this district suffer greatly and so do the students. It’s hard to imagine that a private elementary school would pop up on the map in an area riddled with such economic despair, but despite the city’s money troubles, Beam Elementary, a private school for children in first through fifth grade, opened up its doors four years ago and is thriving in the small community. Originally the school was held in one single-wide trailer. Today, the school is much larger, and consists of 4 double-wide trailers plus the original single-wide.
Education is a major issue in today’s society. With wealthier communities comes better school districts, proven through higher test scores and the number of graduates these schools produce. The opposite holds true for poorer communities. Public schools receive local funding and a portion of property tax revenues, while private schools are privately funded through tuition and fundraising by the parents. It is a common belief that private schools offer better education to students than public schools can, but this isn’t always true. However, private schools tend to have greater amenities available to students. Private schools often employ higher paid teachers, and have smaller class sizes. These are just some of the contributing factors that may make a private education seem more advantageous than a public education.
“We want our children to have access to proper education. I want my child to have a chance at a good life, and to get the hell out of this poverty-stricken [expletive]-hole.” says Lindsay Fuller, a mother of eight, with two more on the way. Rightfully, she wants her children to have an opportunity to receive the best education around. Six of her children are enrolled at Beam Elementary.
With financing being an obvious hurdle, the mothers of the community gathered together to brainstorm a way to raise money for the school. What they came up with, though, has caused a divide in the community over the last few years. The majority of the school is financed through revenue raised from pole dancing classes held in the school cafeteria after classes end and on the weekends.
“This a privately funded school. I don’t see why we can’t have fun, learning how to show off our privates in order to fund it. These haters are just jealous ’cause our kids are gettin’ better educated then they’s kids.” states Brittany Dunes, a mother of 3 Beam school children, and an avid attender of the pole dancing classes.
Mary Bethlems, who has a son in the public school system, is on the opposing side of the argument. She expresses her concerns to anyone who will listen, often holding one-woman pickets outside Beam on nights when they are using it for the classes.
“It’s just not right. God says it’s not right. The Bible says it’s not right. These are God’s babies! We shouldn’t be teachin’ them in the same place where this devil nonsense is happenin’! What kind of example is this settin’? What kind of lessons are they bein’ taught?! I wonder…”
While school facilities are commonly used for exercise classes across the nation, this is the first in the country that has kept their doors open through funds in any way related to sexual activity.
“There aren’t really any laws in place that constitute what is allowed and what isn’t, I don’t think. I heard that pole dancin’ classes is really becomin’ a popular sport. I get the concerns people is havin’, but I also hear the need for better schoolin’ ’round here. And this is the best school we got.” Said Louise Ross, principal at Beam Elementary. “These kids, they need a good education, and if their moms be wantin’ to learn to take off they clothes and rub they selves all over that pole in order to give they kids the smarts they never had, then why would anyone care?