A recent Jeff Danzinger cartoon makes the point that the traditional American school year is shorter than several others around the globe:
And today is the first day of school for most Chicago Public School students (a handful of schools follow a year-round schedule).
My wife's school has been in session for two weeks already. Youngest Son is entering the fourth week of his senior year. The local Catholic schools start sooner -- but finish sooner than their public counterparts, too.
But back to the Chicago Public Schools: Since young people have an alarming tendency to get shot by other young people in certain areas of the City, officials and community groups are urging fathers to walk their kids to school today. WBBM Newsradio 780 reports that as many as 500 "community watchers" will be posted around 38 Chicago high schools to provide additional security. The Chicago Sun-Times focuses this morning on the 20 "community watchers" to be posted around Corliss High School. Rosalind Rossi's Sun-Times article notes that this is not a wholly altruistic venture on the part of participating community groups:
Dozens of community groups vied for the chance to produce and train community watchers. At Corliss, the Nehemiah Coalition joined forces with Roseland Ceasefire to produce 20 community watchers who were given three days of training, including briefings on gang symbols and colors.And for the kids who successfully run the gauntlet and make it school unshot?* * * * * * * * *
The program also is providing jobs -- at the rate of $8.50 to $10 an hour -- to adults waylaid by tough economic times. It gave Troy McDaniels a job after he was laid off as an online university admissions adviser -- as well as a new way to reach kids and help the community.
There are prizes just for showing up: For the fourth year in a row, the Museum of Science and Industry will be giving passes good for three admissions to the museum. The linked Sun-Times article and this story from the local ABC affiliate point out that, last year, the museum gave out 380,000 family passes under this program.
Not to denigrate the laudable intentions and good will of the persons involved in these various programs, isn't it a sin and a shame that there is a need for these programs at all?
I didn't have to be exhorted to take my kids to school on the first day of class when they were little. It was something I wanted to do. School is not merely important, it is vital.
And these gangbangers who shoot each other up on the way to and from school? (And who shoot anyone or anything that happens to be in the way?) Where are their parents? These gangbangers did not spontaneously generate, springing up from the pavement, pants already sagging.
Don't tell me about poverty and lack of opportunity and jobs. Gangs are no alternative: Kids don't join gangs and become rich. Kids join gangs and a lot of them become dead. Where are their moms and dads teaching them that gangs are criminals bound for jail and damnation? The only people that get rich from gangs are gang "leaders," those that survive for long enough -- rich from the drugs and prostitution and, ultimately, the deaths of their peers and their younger siblings and, eventually, their own children. And, perhaps, some of the the record producers and "artists" that celebrate this "gangsta" lifestyle in in rap "music" and videos.
Oh, we are so smug in liberal, liberated America. People actually believe that we don't need stable, two-parent families to raise kids. Here's a news flash for you: Sandra Bullock can probably raise a kid without a husband. It's a heck of a lot harder for single mothers on Chicago's West and South Sides. Maybe we as a society need to remember that the family is the foundation of society -- and that marriage is the foundation of the family.
Yes, we all need to go back to school and learn -- or re-learn -- some basic lessons.