Thousands of the children of Juarez live in houses like the one shown above. These homes are often a few dozen yards from El Paso, Texas and seldom more that 20 miles from the United States. As you would assume, if these children do manage to go to school they do not learn much.
The little boy in this picture could have a real chance to get a basic education — and maybe a lot more — through handschooling. Wireless is not available yet in most of Juarez, but near the border there is some connectivity. There are Juarez kids who can be connected to the web right now. Each one would need a mobile device with a web browser. The old saying goes, you save one child at a time.
Certainly there are many, many places across the world where this picture could have been taken. Think about it: To assume we can or will provide good schools for all the children living under conditions like these is folly. That simply will not happen. But today, right now, you can connect at least one kid somewhere.
BTW: The picture above is from Siguiendo los Pasos de Jesus (SPJ), which is a truly wonderful and effective project assisting families in Juarez. If you are touched by the plight of Mexican families in the midst of the drug chaos in their country, SPJ is a place where your help will be strong and effective. They are not set up to connect kids for handschooling, but their website describes many other kinds of help that would be meaningful.
Writing from El Paso, where my family has been since before 1900,
An article in Politico.com today about “Short Obama coattails for black pols“ begins:
Barack Obama’s historic 2008 victory was supposed to herald a new era in American politics, one in which the conventional wisdom that there were limits to how far ambitious African-American politicians could expect to go — nationally or statewide — had been demolished.
[The article continues, describing a "stunning defeat" for one black politician running for high office, and how another was "crushed."]
What might be happening to the Obama coattails that black youngsters saw themselves riding into Ivy League schools and elite circles of prestige and power?
Disturbingly, at least to me, is the near total focus by the Obama education policy on some improvement in the so-called “failing” schools — which are, of course, very often overwhelmingly black. He has promised that by 2020 every public school student will be prepared to enter college — which at best would include a few accepted by the Harvard and very many more by the increasingly dumbed down remedial post-high school institutions.
Improving “failing” schools by enough to meet a middling goal ten years from now is not providing anything close to what Obama himself enjoyed in his education: elite prep school in Hawaii, classy college in California, vaunted university in New York City — and later Harvard Law School.
Yes, young Barry showed that a man with an African father could be elected President. But he is not showing a response to the belief of young blacks who enthusiastically responded when he said “Yes we can.” Promising to fix failing schools by ten years from now is a lame way of telling the kids stuck in bad schools today: “No you cannot.”
But they CAN take schooling into their own hands, creating their own coattails by showing that there are not limits to how far ambitious African-American students can expect to go.
New York Times photo
A story today in the New York Times tells how, sadly, New N.Y. Schools Face Extra Pain From Layoffs. The picture here is from an affected classroom in Brooklyn Brownstone School. The situation the article describes reveals a puzzling paradox for Obama education policy:
- On the one hand, Obama says he will support charter schools (called new schools in the NYT article).
- On the other hand Obama panders fully to teacher unions (who demand tenure).
As the article describes,
. . . the [New York City public] schools that are likely to feel the layoff pain most acutely are the hundreds of new small schools that have been a cornerstone of Chancellor Joel I. Klein’s efforts to overhaul the city’s public education system. Because of seniority rules dictating who gets laid off first, the small schools stand to lose a disproportionate share of teachers. . . .
Chaos and crisis — and confusion — is caused. Why does the controlling crowd in Washington allow this paradox and the harm to teaching and learning that it causes? As my last post speculated, letting this happen may be intentional by the Alinsky taught Obamaists.
Yet the parents and teachers at Brooklyn Brownstone School are not fools. My guess is that the perverse situation they face is not likely to entice them to turn to Obama and the federal government to take over the education of their children. For the hundreds of schools affected in this way in New York City, handschooling presents a new, economical and open path for learning knowledge without being subjected to the waves of crisis, chaos and confusion that lie ahead for public schooling in its era of decline into obsolescence.