Sometimes, it feels like there is no way out and there isn’t

School choice is a thorny issue in this country. If you are poor or a member of an ethnic or racial minority, your choices are usually limited, and they are not always good. Even in schools that are well-funded with gleaming computer equipment and multiple tutors for struggling students, there can be an atmosphere of degradation and social dysfunction that is overwhelming. This article just about broke my heart when I read it last night. From a teacher and writer, Gerry Garibaldi this testimony in his article, “Nobody Gets Married Any More, Mister”:

“At my school, we pay five teachers to tutor kids after school and on Saturdays. They sit in classrooms waiting for kids who never show up. We don’t want for books—or for any of the cutting-edge gizmos that non–Title I schools can’t afford: computerized whiteboards, Elmo projectors, the works. Our facility is state-of-the-art, thanks to a recent $40 million face-lift, with gleaming new hallways and bathrooms and a fully computerized library.

Here’s my prediction: the money, the reforms, the gleaming porcelain, the hopeful rhetoric about saving our children—all of it will have a limited impact, at best, on most city schoolchildren. Urban teachers face an intractable problem, one that we cannot spend or even teach our way out of: teen pregnancy. This year, all of my favorite girls are pregnant, four in all, future unwed mothers every one. There will be no innovation in this quarter, no race to the top. Personal moral accountability is the electrified rail that no politician wants to touch. “

Here: Nobody Gets Married Any more Mister”

Personal moral responsibility, and the “M” word, the word “moral” is nearly taboo in these postmodern times, not only do politicians often not want to speak of moral responsibility, no else does either. If I was a parent, I can easily see wanting to get out of a situation like the one described, where my kids might feel pressured to have sex before they were ready, or to even — get pregnant. Certainly homeschooling might present a good option.

But, if you skip the public option, and homeschool, you actually risk having your kids taken away! Well, I guess it could happen, see this instance where an African American family had their kids yanked because they homeschooled them. Reminiscent of a recent case in Sweden where homeschooling also got the kids yanked away. In the past, my lefty past, I was suspicious of homeschooling but recent reports of higher test results for homeschooled kids and a good long hard look at what is available for kids otherwise out there, changed my mind. Here, the story:

“It’s every parent’s nightmare.

Army Major John Jackson and his wife Carolyn, devout Christian homeschoolers with a history of serving as adoptive and foster parents, had their five children taken away in April 2010 by the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services – and despite the collapse of the evidence against the Jacksons, DYFS hasn’t returned the children to their parents.

During the course of a nine-month legal battle to regain custody of their children, the Jacksons say they have encountered prejudice against their religion and homeschooling as they fight a state agency determined to see the children adopted by strangers no matter what the evidence says.”

Read more:
Father: ‘My children are being held hostage’

There are other options, like finding a better environment – well, one would hope. But, getting your children into a better school district is not an easy thing. Kelley Williams-Bolar, an African American woman determined to get her kids into a safer school with an environment more conducive to learning and with a high academic ranking – was convicted of lying about her residency to get her daughters into a better school district.

“It’s overwhelming. I’m exhausted,” she said. “I did this for them, so there it is. I did this for them.

Williams-Bolar decided four years ago to send her daughters to a highly ranked school in neighboring Copley-Fairlawn School District.

But it wasn’t her Akron district of residence, so her children were ineligible to attend school there, even though her father lived within the district’s boundaries.

The school district accused Williams-Bolar of lying about her address, falsifying records and, when confronted, having her father file false court papers to get around the system.

Williams-Bolar said she did it to keep her children safe and that she lived part-time with her dad.

“When my home got broken into, I felt it was my duty to do something else,” Williams-Bolar said.”

Here: Ohio Mom jailed for sending kids to a better school district

Sounds like real school choice has got to on the table one way or another. And parents shouldn’t be penalized for making a choice.

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Kids don’t play anymore?

I guess I am in a time warp in some ways, well, on certain subjects – particularly how children are being brought up since I never had any. I am often in shock when I discover how much has changed from the time I grew up, and then, suddenly I wonder just what the hell happened. And, what kind of world are we living in now, really?

I mean, here, an article from the NY Times about children not PLAYING any more. Or to be more accurate, the article talks about how children, even in kindergarten, are given computers and not sandboxes or other playground equipment – and how they no longer have RECESS. Apparently, and I did know this, even from my slumbering state of non-parental duties, most people don’t allow their children outside to play anymore from fear. Even though the chance of them being abducted is extremely small, rare. All other activities are structured recreational activities like soccer, or lessons given in the hopes of creating higher SAT scores much later in life. Lessons in Chinese or violin are fine, I took violin, and I”m happy I did, but what about running around outside and pretending to be today’s equivalent of 007? I don’t get it. What the hell happened people? To remedy this, there are actually non-profits and university seminars that promote play for children! The venerable Center for Disease Control is even advocating play. Now, you would think having an actual governmental agency using its authority and subsequent heft to get parents to loosen up and let Johnny or Alice make a mess or (shudder) run around outside would make a squint of a difference here, but apparently many parents are not impressed. Hence, there is a need for non-profit advocacy of this strange notion of playtime for kids. Getting parents on board with this radical new idea. unstructured play, is not easy. They all want their little Einstein in training at three, studying Bantu or kindergarten physics in highly structured environments. I have news for these parents: most likely your kid is not a genius and never will be, but even if he or she is, a little less control might help the matter along. How about just letting your kid use his or her imagination ? That’s what real genius is often about anyway, using the imagination and being able to PLAY.

Loosen up people! What the hell is wrong with you? When did we become a nation of control freaks?

I think more than anything, adults are a little fearful of children’s play,” said Joan Almon, executive director of the Alliance for Childhood, a nonprofit pro-play group. “Some people have a greater tolerance for chaos and have developed a hand for gently bringing it back into order. Others get really nervous about it.” Megan Rosker, a mother of three (ages 6, 3 and 2) in Redington Shores, Fla., has learned to embrace the disorder. She set aside the large sunroom in her home for the children and filled it with blocks, games, crayons, magazines to cut up and draw in, as well as toys and dress-up clothes. “I think a big part of free play is having space to do it in, a space that isn’t ruled over by adults,” she said.

Parents have to LEARN to “embrace the disorder” of children’s play? What the hell is that about? What kind of controlling neurotics are these people? And, they have to plug into a non-profit to figure this out?

It’s times like these, I am glad I am 53, and had parents who let me play, although then I wonder what the hell my generation did, or maybe this is Generation X’s handiwork. And, if so, what the hell happened?

Alerted to the article by neo=neocon here. The comments on her blog appear to indicate that some believe this Times article is mainly talking about certain segments of society, not most people. I sure hope so!
She says it’s one of the most depressing articles she’s ever read