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Educator Issues: 12/21/08 - 12/28/08

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Need

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"I don't have a father." Two young men, probably in their mid teens, stood on Sunday to share their pain with the congregation at Church. They told the sad story of being fatherless, turning to gangbanging or drug dealing as a way to fit in and show their strength. These confessions of heartache caused one young man's voice to crack with emotion as tears ran down his cheeks. His daddy had been murdered because of drugs. The two are half brothers. Both have recognized that the lifestyle of dealing drugs is one of the main reasons their father isn't with them today. Yet, they found themselves walking the same path that stole their precious papa from them. Why does this way of life have such a strong influence over the today's youth?

As our youth seek to define their purpose and personal-identity, they are being bombarded with messages that guide them in their quest for self-discovery and truth. Elementary children are wearing shirts to school with words and phrases like, "Naughty is the New Nice", "I don't discriminate, I hate everyone", "DrunknMonky" (brand), and other creative, albeit rude clothing. The most popular hip-hop songs are typically about money, sex, drugs, fame, and fighting or killing. Turn on the local television stations and bloody, gruesome criminal acts are graphically shown as news stories or for entertainment following the news.

Some puzzled people ask why dropout rates, crime, and drug use is on the increase. The answer is obvious. Just consider the influences that are continuously bombarding them. It is difficult enough to survive the formative years even with a solid family, strong support system, positive role models, and faith. How much more treacherous for those who are missing one or more of these influences? A sad truth is that those who reach adult age without knowing a father are also less likely to know how to father. Youth who live with negative influences or even the absence of positive influences are being instructed how to live negatively. It is a cycle that perpetuates itself in a destructive pattern, increasing with each generation.

The state and federal government is attempting to step in and offer assistance for these problems. One solution provided is more time in public schools. Parents are admonished to send kids to school earlier to eat breakfast with classmates. Days are being extended until 5:00 pm for many students in the form of tutoring. Those who struggle with learning or have behavior issues are encouraged or required to attend summer school. These well-intentioned efforts to help children learn are actually diminishing family time, parental responsibility, and opportunities to instruct youth in spiritual ways. Increased hours in the public school environment means more time for students to be indoctrinated in concepts defined by secular government, concepts that may or may not represent the belief system of the family. For example, Massachusetts and California schools are promoting Gay and Lesbian Pride Days whether parents agree or not. In the name of tolerance, children are provided with literature, graphic media, field trips, and guest speakers with every intention of causing the young ones to tolerate, celebrate, and explore homosexuality.

Separating children from their family and allowing the government to choose the indoctrination content is clearly not the best solution for the success and well being of our youth. Consider the words of the great Frederick Douglass in his book, My Bondage and My Freedom, "The practice of separating children from their mothers…is a marked feature of the cruelty and barbarity of the slave system. But it is in harmony with the grand aim of slavery, which, always and everywhere, is to reduce man to a level with the brute. It is a successful method of obliterating from the mind and heart of the slave, all just ideas of the sacredness of the family, as an institution." While Douglass endured forced slavery and overcame it, it seems today that many are willingly subjecting themselves to this "marked feature" of the former slave system without realizing it.

I believe that all readers would confess that we want what is best for our children. If the current manner of preparing them for the future is not the best, it is time to change how we educate them. It is time for parents and community members to define success for our youth and choose the most effective ways prepare them for it. I encourage readers to respond with thoughts and ideas. What is success? How do we empower our children to achieve their true purpose in life?