Since the shooting/killing of my 22 year old friend the other day, I have had several people ask me, "Well, what do we need to do to keep stuff like this from happening?" Since people ask, I am willing to respond.
Focus on the children!!!
Of course, we hear the rhetoric. Even the President has declared that education is a necessity. He believes in this so much that he passed a law (No Child Left Behind) that requires children to succeed. Of course, he doesn't provide any funding for the kids to reach these standards and play catch up like they need in order to meet the standards he's set. But talking more than acting on our beliefs is not just the president. It's our society. What real effort do we put into our children? What do we have available for them? Where are our priorities?
What if we doubled our effort on the front end instead of trying to put out fires on the back end? What if we dedicated ourselves and held our society accountable to putting twice as much time, money, and effort into every program that involved children? Maybe then we wouldn't have to worry as much about finding drug treatment centers, dealing with shootings, or finding low-level jobs for uneducated adults.
The priorities of our society are apparent. The fact that we are willing to be in massive debt for a war and building a wall between us and Mexico, but not willing to go into debt for public schools, education, and children's enrichment programs tells me where our priorities lie. Why do we sit and muse over why our society has become so bad?
Do people not understand that adults who are addicted to drugs, poor, violent, and/or hungry were once children
...who attended poorly resourced schools.
...who had teachers who had low expectations of them
...who had parents who couldn't afford to get them involved in outside activities.
...who had absentee parents
...who had to "hustle" in order to provide food for themselves and their siblings.
...who don't have a context of rich educational experiences to draw from.
...who lived in rough neighborhoods where survival was the norm
Once again, it's not just the government. Look at other organizations as well. After-school programs...How many are willing to offer the funds that would allow them to hire high quality teachers for struggling children? Middle school programs...we know that middle schoolers are when kids fall off, yet how many middle school programs are you aware of? College readiness programs...many of the kids I know don't have parents who are able or willing to figure out the complicated college entrance process. Where are the college/career prep programs?
I want to offer all of these programs...but we don't have the funding. Anybody willing?
I truly believe that the more connected we (individually as well as our entire society) are to the kids, the less need for food pantries, job readiness programs, drug treatment centers, and anger management programs we will need.
How about we save money by investing on the front end?! Anybody with me???