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Walk in His Shoes

Don't judge a book by it's cover? Well, it's hard to LEARN from any book when you've been put in "in school suspension" again. How many of these young men were placed back in "in school suspension" because they were tardy repeatedly and how many because they had been groping female students in the crowded hallways, stealing in classrooms, brawling, fighting, spewing vulgarities at teachers and each other, and more?

You use Charles Manson as your poster boy for 3rd grade honor behavior. Anyone who knows Charles Manson's history knows that he was a criminally, physically, sexually, and horrifically abused child who should have been taken from his mother at a very young age. However, he was not disruptive and at least his 3rd grade peers were able to LEARN in a quiet, obedient classroom as opposed to where my son teaches that on any given day of the week in 27 classrooms, 8 to 15 students in every classroom are acting out so violently, rudely, and disruptively that NO LEARNING is going on to the point that more than 70% of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students cannot pass the state end of grade reading and math tests. Think about that. Only 30% can PASS. How can any teacher TEACH when that many "students" arrive at school with such poor self management skills that any wrong look leads to a brawl? Should I have compared them to animals? Perhaps that was not fair. What is fair? How about the children who would like to learn but are stuck in a rural county where that many youngsters are that out of control and the school system is constantly fighting parents who think their little angels are being abused by teachers attempting to keep them from killing each other hour to hour...literally. And where are the FATHERS of these youngsters created in one night stands with women who were not morally responsible enough to just say no or socially responsible enough to practice birth control in out of wedlock relationships?

This coach was in the class with the largest, toughest, roughest "boys" in this school. I sincerely doubt that him using a ruler or yardstick to slam a desk to get their hardheaded attention even vaguely scared them. I'm really supposed to believe that this young man was "scared"? Really? He wasn't too scared to steal. He wasn't too scared to misbehave to the point of being put with the "bad boys" in the "bad boy holding pen" for kids marking time until they can graduate to the Big Pen. He wasn't too scared to already have a rap sheet with local law enforcement. An adult rap sheet. No telling what the juvenile rap sheet is hiding in this case.

Let's face it. Do you really believe that those 8 to 15 in every single class at the elementary school are going to grow up to be exemplary citizens given their home lives or what passes for home lives? I used to be one of those teachers who believed I could really make a difference. I still tutor and try my best with that population. But every year, I become more and more cynical. Unless you can remove them from that environment or someone at home will hold them accountable and DEMAND they behave, all the tutors, coaches, principals, counselors, Angel Trees, and church volunteers in the world aren't going to keep but maybe one or two of those hundreds in every school district from going astray.

My son used to believe he could make a difference. He's learning fast that most of those kids have already checked out of school and are biding their time until they can graduate to Big Pen 101 or Out of Wedlock Welfare Momma.

Oh, and comparing these young men to Martin Luther King, Jr. is a travesty. That man died so these young men could receive an education worthy of any child in this nation. That man died so they would never hear the "N" word again. That man died so they could grow up to be educated men of character. He did not have a rap sheet for crimes AGAINST others. He had a rap sheet for civil disobedience, for peace, for voting rights, worker's rights, and educational rights. There's a big difference. He was NOT disrupting his classrooms or embarrassing his parents or schools. He was learning and graduating and going to college and preaching and marching and leading. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a leader. He was a real man. These boys are either thugs on the road to thugs and there is no way Martin Luther King, Jr. would defend their disruptive behavior that keeps others from learning, growing, and succeeding.

If one of these young men decides to try to turn his life around, I will be the first to applaud. But so far, I think I'll be more likely to see their names in the crime section of the local paper. And yes, I think this behavior starts long before high school. Show me an out of control kid in third grade whose parents, teachers, Sunday school teachers, pastor, and counselors don't get control of and I'll show you a kid in prison before he's 30. And that's not a color issue, a socio-economic issue, or a ethnicity issue. It's a behavior issue.

I feel bad for Coach Brown. I can't imagine being surrounded by a group of huge hoods and being threatened. Even if he had time to hit the panic button, most schools ignore them because the principals and security officers are often engaged elsewhere. AT least that is my son's experience. Doesn't do any good to hit the panic button when they're drawing blood, the nearest principal is off dealing with another group of mini thugs and thugettes brawling, and let's face it...the teacher gets the blame.

There's not enough money in the world to be a public school teacher today. Good luck to Coach Brown. I'm sorry you tried to help them. I'm quitting all of my free tutoring. I'm over a community that refuses to hold their children responsible for their poor behavior. I'm not wasting my time any longer. I'm over their excuses.

My daddy was raised by poor, illiterate grandparents. No one gave him a backpack, free breakfast, lunch, or dinner, put his name on an Angel Tree, bought him Air Jordans, socks, or underwear or a fancy mountain bike, provided him free tutoring, coaching, or lessons, held seminars for his grandparents, or gave him any help whatsover unless you count him being allowed to mop the cafeteria after lunch every day in exchange for a peanut butter sandwich and an apple. All we've done is create a generation of ill behaved young men and women who think the world owes them something no matter how badly they treat others and no matter how much disrespect they show each other and those in authority.

I'm glad all the do-gooders think these young men are worthy good boys. I hope each and every one of you shows up at Hoggard High School after passing criminal background checks to volunteer in the "in school suspension" classrooms as volunteers, tutors, and one on one behavior monitors/shadows. I can't wait until you see what I see.

A third grader who does not learn to self moderate his or her behavior will turn into a 7th grader who cannot self moderate his or her behavior which turns into a 14 year old pregnant "mother" and a 17 year old "father" sitting in an "in school suspension" classroom with Coach White, Coach Black, or Coach Brown taking one last shot at helping before the young person "graduates" into the North Carolina Penal System and we have another generation of little unwanted babies being raised by a great aunt or the foster care system.

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