February 1, 2011

No hope or change for urban schools

Today's must-read: “Nobody Gets Married Any More, Mister” by Gerry Garibaldi
Subtitle: Welcome to our urban high schools, where kids have kids and learning dies. Excerpt:

She lifted her face and smiled at her friends, then dropped her head back down. I picked up my grimy metal garbage can and set it beside her desk, just in case. A moment later she vomited, and I dispatched her to the nurse. In the years since, I’ve escorted girls whose water has just broken, their legs trembling and wobbly, to the principal’s office, where their condition barely raises an eyebrow.

Within my lifetime, single parenthood has been transformed from shame to saintliness. In our society, perversely, we celebrate the unwed mother as a heroic figure, like a fireman or a police officer. During the last presidential election, much was made of Obama’s mother, who was a single parent. Movie stars and pop singers flaunt their daddy-less babies like fishing trophies.
You have to read the whole thing to get the full, bleak picture. I don't have much time to comment right now, but again, wouldn't it be lovely if our president hit hard on the theme of responsible fatherhood and commitment to family? And recruited other black celebrities to do the same? Of course one man can't change the culture, but he's got the bully pulpit, and perhaps he could do some small amount of good?

But instead he talks about working on his rap palate, endorsing entertainers that degrade their own culture.

And much more significantly, he's absolutely committed to the culture of entitlement that's a huge part of the problem. From the article:
Connecticut is among the most generous of the states to out-of-wedlock mothers. Teenage girls like Nicole qualify for a vast array of welfare benefits from the state and federal governments: medical coverage when they become pregnant (called “Healthy Start”); later, medical insurance for the family (“Husky”); child care (“Care 4 Kids”); Section 8 housing subsidies; the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; cash assistance. If you need to get to an appointment, state-sponsored dial-a-ride is available. If that appointment is college-related, no sweat: education grants for single mothers are available, too. Nicole didn’t have to worry about finishing the school year; the state sent a $35-an-hour tutor directly to her home halfway into her final trimester and for six weeks after the baby arrived.

In theory, this provision of services is humane and defensible, an essential safety net for the most vulnerable—children who have children. What it amounts to in practice is a monolithic public endorsement of single motherhood—one that has turned our urban high schools into puppy mills. The safety net has become a hammock.
Please read the rest. Comments welcome.

Thanks to AS for sending the link.

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  1. We see it in our small town too much. I don't know the extent of the "benefits", but it's there. We teach Pope John Paul's Theology of the Body for teens to our post confirmation students (11th-12th graders) and they have filled us in on what's out there, since our children are 4th grade and under. We have stressed to them (they all want college and none are teen parents, all come from strong church-active families) what a child will do to them at this point, keep them from being able to enjoy a college life (and I don't mean drunken parties) and how unfair it is to expect their parents to pick up the slack with an unexpected grandchild, when their parents are trying to finish raising their children. It is so sad how it's lauded rather than a source of shame. Even when I was in school in the 80's, that would have been a source of shame for our group. Things have rapidly degraded over the last two decades.

  2. Very sad, but important article. Thanks for sharing it.

  3. "Personal moral accountability is the electrified rail that no politician wants to touch"


    This brought the tears:
    "My students often become curious about my personal life. The question most frequently asked is, “Do you have kids?”

    “Two,” I say.

    The next question is always heartbreaking.

    “Do they live with you?”

    I don't know where to begin anymore. You know? It seems so simple. But how do you teach someone to love the kids they have and to do right by those kids? Ugh.

  4. Ditto.

    This part:

    "As much as Nicole is aware of her mother’s sacrifices, she is equally proud of her mother’s choice to keep her. It’s locked away in her heart like a cameo. They’re best friends, she offers. The talk turns to her mother’s loyalty and love, and soon the class rises in a choir to mom’s defense."

    You can see a glimmer of hope in these girls. But the missing fathers leave a hole nothing else can fill.

  5. Kids need Daddy. They just do. Look at what happened when we put an unloved fatherless child in the White House.


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