Friday, December 5, 2008

other people's children

"Rainer Beach needs to be closed and consolidated. If the kids in these gangs can't learn to go to school and be civil like normal human beings, let the justice system deal with it. You can't maintain a school system that falters under the pressure of maintaining gang territory. Let the heavy hammer of the law fall and regain some order. " BothellMom, comment on 12/04 article in the Seattle Times.


Dear Bothell Mom,

You seem to have overwhelming confidence in the justice system to transform kids who have been under-served for their entire lives into productive members of society. Yeah, let's put all the kids we're scared of into jail, that'll work wonders.

I am not convinced that the best way to transform an at-risk student into a productive citizen is by incarcerating them.

Perhaps you know something I don't?

Your general attitude reeks of a refusal to see the "kids in these gangs" as what they are - kids, young human beings who are trying to survive the best way they know how. And they certainly aren't someone else's problem to write off, to say, oh, that's just another young black kid again, shooting themselves or someone else up.

John Donne said it better than I ever could: "No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."


Sincerely,

Gretzky

2 comments:

Kaitlin said...

Here, here, friend!! We are involved in mankind. humankind.

LKT said...

While I disagree with Bothell Mom (oh, and FYI, let's meet sometime Bothell Mom and I'll tell you about all the wonders that Bothell High did for my cousin!), I think that it would be worth considering a total reorganization of Rainier Beach High. It's a building that is grossly underused and the population isn't being served well. It seems like a prime candidate for small schools, academies, alternative programs. (Housing Summit in the same building isn't what I'm talking about.) With school choice, any kid who wanted to stay in a "comprehensive" high school could go to Cleveland or Franklin and Beach could become something that would serve the neighborhood population and perhaps even draw kids from other areas.

Also, does Bothell Mom realize that locking a kid up in jail is more expensive than educating him? I might also direct her to the Stanford Prison Experiment which demonstrates how people treated like prisoners become rebellious and violent, even when all the other factors are the same.