Thursday, October 04, 2007

Stop Failing School Environments by Akindele Akinyemi

The state of our urban educational system is in a failing state that its no wonder families are moving out of the city to seek refuge in suburbia. However, the problem is just as bad in suburbia as it is in urban areas in Michigan. Of course, the media only report on how bad urban schools are performing and how violent our schools are in our community. However, how many times have a suburban school been shut down, students released early or investigated for bomb threats?

In order for urban areas like Inkster, Benton Harbor or Flint to come back to life those cities will need strong educational leaders in those areas to help transform the community. Our children today are growing up in a place where there is apathy and often constant violence leads to a lack of desire for improvement because there is no visible way out. As a result, our young people grow up believing that they will never amount to anything and so they stop having a drive or an ambition to improve their situation.

In places like Detroit, Highland Park and Hazel Park our children are consumed with the violence inflicted by other children. This is a problem for which adults must accept responsibility. After all, adults are the ones who pollute their minds with the garbage in movies and television. We are the ones who create innovative and fun games of fantasy murder. We are the ones who, at every opportunity, influence teens to establish raunchy sexual relationships. We also allow - and sometimes encourage - the killing of their unborn children.

Adults are the ones who give kids drugs and alcohol. We are the ones who give kids weapons. We are the ones who hand them condoms, birth control pills and bad advice. Adults are the culprits for magazines that target children and teens with images of sex. We give them music with lyrics encouraging sex, and television programs and movies depicting young people engaging in sexual relationships.

So how can they function in school if we are exposing this crap to them at home. My job, as an educator, is ten times harder when I am trying to teach them educational and moral values in the classroom only for the students to go back home to a life of complete chaos.

When we send our kids to school, we must also realize the influences upon our children from their peers. Kids raised with little or no respect for laws and authority - or life and liberty - interact with and potentially terrorize other children on a daily basis. This is the world of traditional public schools. This is where our children struggle to survive every day. Regrettably, traditional public schools are not conducive to learning appropriate moral values. The government has seen to that. Instead, children are influenced to believe they are their own authority and that God has no place in their lives.

Moreover, schools permit inappropriate behavior. School administrators assume students will have sex, so they pass out free contraceptives to prevent disease. In addition, day-care centers are appearing on campuses across the country. Is this what the government calls intellectual progress? In many of our public schools, teens wear what they want (many schools are against school uniforms), smoke in designated areas (more than cigarettes), arrange drug connections, engage in intimate sexual affairs (on back hallways), are exposed to physical violence and face the dilemma of "fitting in" within some social group in a make-shift social environment that grown-ups seem unwilling to supervise.

It seems government-controlled schools are not commissioned just to teach academics, but also their own brand of socialism. Our children learn to oppose the morals and principles a lot of parents teach at home. When they leave for school, kids can change their clothes, unpack their cigarettes, meet their buddies for alcohol and drug parties and engage in sexual relations. But at least they won't catch a disease if they use their school-provided condom. And if they should get pregnant, the public school will be happy to advise them on their "right" to execute their unborn child or to leave the baby at the school-sponsored day-care center.

If public schools are run contrary to the type of environment we'd like our children exposed to (preferably one that is strictly academic), then we should have the right to send them to whatever school we desire. Since the government uses our tax money for public school funding, it should either return that money to us with a note of sincere apology or give us a voucher so that we can use it to send our children to another - possibly private or religious - school where the atmosphere is conducive to academic progress rather than social engineering.

Speaking as a strong proponent of education, I believe that one of the places to start is within the home. I believe that students in the inner city should get the same education as those in suburbia. They should know that they are worth being taught, that their teachers have high-expectations of them, that they can have a better life to look forward to than their parents did.

Education can always change a life. Given its importance, why are so many black kids in our urban communities steering clear of it like the plague? We can't just blame the kids when teachers, schools, hardships, single-parent households and other things share responsibility.

We've provided kids with plenty of ways not to get a good education. We've invented mental conditions like ADD and ADHD to allow them to avoid hard work and dedication, saying, "It's not your fault, you have a reason for not paying attention." Back in the day it was called just plain dumb.

The problem is that we've gotten away from what school is all about - learning, both book learning and learning the lessons of life. Then there is discipline. Today, unfortunately, discipline is often called child abuse. I'm not talking about beating children, but instead old-fashioned discipline like when your father gave you a look and you knew to close your mouth. Or when any grown-up could take the place of your parents to make you straighten up your act. You would feel leather on your backside when it was needed, but usually the fear of it kept you in line. But today's kids have no fear of their parents.

Changes in our educational system and family life have come slowly and with little resistance from conservatives, who fear being labeled insensitive by liberals. Liberals, noting the change, invent more excuses and conditions to explain away the problems they have wrought. We need to take action again and solve our problems now while they are relatively small because future generations will continue along the paths we choose today.

We will only succeed in educating our kids if we stand up and demand our parental rights to raise, teach and discipline them. Furthermore, the government must set standards for our public school teachers and reduce the influence of the National Education Association teachers union. Also, someone must take responsibility when our kids don't learn. Whether it is the kids, teachers, parents or the government, someone must step forward to explain why the kids aren't learning and help find a solution.

Black leaders are demanding that black citizens be noticed and taken seriously in Hollywood, on Wall Street and in business across America. If that is to happen, we first need an education to be able to take advantage of opportunity. You can't be handed everything, and you must prove yourself worthy of things that come your way. And an education cannot wait.

We must teach our kids to prepare them for future opportunities. We must lead by example, letting them see us make our own dreams come true. We must be at the top of our game or striving to be better so we can demand the best from them. We cannot expect them to obey us if we do the opposite of what we say.

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