Saturday, January 9, 2016

All we need to do is...


     Readers get the impression that my mail is a septic stream of insult and craziness. Part of that is my fault. I tend to find the insanity more noteworthy than the common sense. It stands out more. But sometimes I get an email that amazes me in its lucidity. Such as this, from Linda Barnes, reacting to my column on what needs to be done to reduce police shooting. It's brief, to-the-point and very big picture, and I thought I'd share it. Not so suggest that any of it would be easy. But how could we imagine the solution would be easy?

      I enjoyed reading your article, "Tasers Won't Help, So What Will?" I agree with your suggestions that police restraint and luck would help, and especially that "everyone needs to try harder." But even with trying harder, there's only so much that can be done, because it is such a mess that needs to be undone. To keep it simple, I would suggest we start by moving in the direction of legalizing drugs, thus largely eliminating the prime reason gangs are shooting and killing people in Chicago. Then, I think we need to ensure there are enough well paying jobs in the area. This is starting to take place with the technical/industry hubs that are forming in the city. Lastly, we need to ensure people are qualified to perform the jobs. This can be accomplished by schools providing technical job training and tutoring, as well as individual and family counseling. 

     We are starting to move in that direction with the specialty community colleges. I think it would be good to start it in high school, which some other cities are doing successfully. What hit home for me this morning is how much preparation goes into developing a young person to be ready for their first day of work. My 21 year old son just left for his first day of work as an Auditing Assurance (Accounting) intern and as I snapped a photo of him in his professional clothes, I realized the lifetime of preparation for this (from the day he started kindergarten until now). This is what all young people need to succeed and if they aren't able to get it at home, I think schools should step in.
     Thanks for listening and thanks for writing such effective articles.


14 comments:

  1. Agree about the drug legalization, etc...the root of the problems...

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  2. Linda emphasizes your point that we're in it for the long haul, that any and all solutions to violence are unlikely to take effect immediately. Legalizing drugs is a step in the right direction, I think, but the criminal enterprises engendered by drug prohibition are not likely to disappear overnight after legalization just as those created by alcohol prohibition haven't yet gone away.

    john

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  3. The concept for high schools to provide career readiness in addition to college preparedness will be introduced in my high school next fall. We serve a community that's high minority/high poverty. Here is a description from our school website:

    "Career Academies is a concept that has gained traction at schools throughout the country in recent years. In an Academy model, schools are broken into smaller learning communities similar to the House model at WHS. Where the Academy model varies, is that each House focuses on different career themes. For example, one House may focus on business and finance, while other Houses center on health and medicine, or technology and communication. In the Academy model, students throughout WHS would continue to take many of the same core courses as their classmates in different themes; however, each Academy would offer interdisciplinary lessons that support the career theme, as well as elective courses geared toward specific themes. This model entails partnerships with local businesses to support any necessary curriculum adjustments, job-shadowing opportunities, and internships.

    "While the Career Academies is the largest transformation initiative, special programs are planned in areas beyond just focusing on college and career readiness. There is also emphasis on equipping students with the life skills necessary to be productive and empathetic members of society."

    We're moving away from the total focus on testing and college prep only. Students need to be prepared for multiple career opportunities, with a focus on social skills needed to adapt to the work environment.

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    1. It seems like your high school is doing all the right things by covering both the academic and job skills as well as the life skills part. Great!

      LindaB

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    2. @LindaB

      Your above opinion is spot on and we need to move beyond the "every child can attend to a four year university" and focus on real life goals. I'm especially concerned about my Special Ed students who are forced to endure rigorous academic classes where the curriculum is way over their heads. Time would be better spent on learning life skills and training using the appropriate vocational education selected for their strengths and abilities. Thanks for your input!

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    3. The description contained in the school Web site is great if you can read well enough to understand it. Also believe it or not many people struggling with the difficulties poverty present don't have acess to a computer or the internet. Students in Cps overall have nearly 50% drop out rate. Some committe or task force puts together a mission statement like this and just has no idea the level of struggle in people's lives in the real world these kids face everyday. each Ivory tower academic proposal that comes down the pipe is met with the same results. When I was in school you could work a real job after lunch and get credit towards graduation and make some money. It was caleed The ICE program and there were shop classes at school that taught basic skills that made you appealing to an employer. This worked for me and now I have my own business but can't find workers that can even read a tape measure. Getting kids prepared for a tech job that doesn't exist makes no sense when trained carpenters, plumbers, masons, car mechanics and other tradesmen are in short supply baffles me. These jobs pay well and there's rarely a lack of work but kids are conditioned to believe this type of work is not glamorous or acceptable and they come out of school with no marketable skills and no prospects part of the over 25 % unemployed minority youth. Are schools are doing most of them no favors bordering on injustice.

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    4. The description contained in the school Web site is great if you can read well enough to understand it. Also believe it or not many people struggling with the difficulties poverty present don't have acess to a computer or the internet. Students in Cps overall have nearly 50% drop out rate. Some committe or task force puts together a mission statement like this and just has no idea the level of struggle in people's lives in the real world these kids face everyday. each Ivory tower academic proposal that comes down the pipe is met with the same results. When I was in school you could work a real job after lunch and get credit towards graduation and make some money. It was caleed The ICE program and there were shop classes at school that taught basic skills that made you appealing to an employer. This worked for me and now I have my own business but can't find workers that can even read a tape measure. Getting kids prepared for a tech job that doesn't exist makes no sense when trained carpenters, plumbers, masons, car mechanics and other tradesmen are in short supply baffles me. These jobs pay well and there's rarely a lack of work but kids are conditioned to believe this type of work is not glamorous or acceptable and they come out of school with no marketable skills and no prospects part of the over 25 % unemployed minority youth. Are schools are doing most of them no favors bordering on injustice.

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    5. @Wendy C - I just went to the Career Academy website. I didn't realize these programs had already started in the Chicago Public High Schools. I wish these programs had been available when I was in high school. It would have made my path in life much easier to follow! The mentorship and practical on the job experience seems especially useful.

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    6. That's great! While vocational education for students with IEPs, 16 and older (special ed), is mandated by the state, I think this option should be available for all students.

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  4. In Steinberg's January 8 column, he wrote that "one reason police are always pulling out their guns is because they're working in shattered communities of relentless violence, broken families, drugs and pervasive criminality." I agree with him that police have a difficult job, and I believe that most policemen are sincerely interested in serving and protecting others. However, I also believe that there is a very small minority of police who are sociopaths. How else to explain a man pumping 16 shots into a person (LaQuan McDonald) who is lying motionless on the ground? And then reloading his gun until another policeman intervenes?

    There is an excellent book, "The Sociopath Next Door," by Martha Stout, (published in 2006) which describes sociopaths as those who simply don't care about other people. She explains that 4% of us are sociopaths and that the "prevalence of sociopathy in the United States seems to be increasing."

    I have also done a lot of research on the Holocaust although I am not Jewish. As most people know, many Jews were well educated people who were brutalized during this horrible period. They had prepared themselves for professions, and most were not living in the types of shattered communities of relentless violence that Steinberg described. Why then were they persecuted if the solution is simply preparation for career opportunities, as most of you seem to think is the solution? Another writer, concentration camp survivor and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, in his autobiography, "Man's Search for Meaning," also discusses the sadists and sociopaths among us. He describes the four types of prison guards he observed. The first type were sadists; the second type were selected when severe punishment was needed; the third type had become hardened by the brutality they witnessed; and the fourth type took pity upon the prisoners. I think these four types are evident in police forces around the country.

    I am not attempting to minimize the violence and criminality that is common in some black neighborhoods. For the good of those neighborhoods, I hope students can become better prepared for careers. However, even if those problems are eliminated, there will still be problems with police brutality.

    It's time for the sociopaths to be rooted out from the police forces.

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  5. I absolutely agree the police brutality is another part that has to be eliminated.

    Linda B.

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  6. @Christine -- Considering the distinct possibility that there are sociopaths in every profession, it's almost a certainty that police forces are not exempt. Not a pleasant thought, but I can't imagine it would be easy to "root out" sociopaths since they can be especially charming and appear completely normal when they want to (from what I've read about the subject, that is). A lengthy process of psychiatric examinations and evaluations would have to be involved.

    SandyK

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  7. For all those crying of police brutality, I'd say go be a cop full time for a long time in Englewood or Austin area, etc, then talk.

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