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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Friday, May 12, 2006

Big Daddy's Thought-Provoking Response

Hey, I've said I have tons of opinions. I never said mine were the absolute right ones or the only right ones.

So I wrote yesterday that I'm skeptical about "experts" who quickly invoke learning disabilities as a reason why so many young kids - especially central city kids - don't do well in academic tasks like reading these days. My skepticism was illustrated by a couple of kids I saw on a stroll. One of 'em couldn't tie his shoe, but while he struggled w/that lace he recited a pop song verbatim. I opined that if a song could be memorized so could a textbook with the help of parents, guardians, good neighbors, older siblings, etc.

Anyway, my wife, who is a teacher, and Big Daddy, a frequent contributor to this blog both disagreed with me. Wifey says my view is oversimplified. BD says I have to consider socioeconomic issues, race, and even location before taking a swipe at parents for some of kids' academic failures.

Here's BD's response in full: I don't know, champ. I still see sandals, black socks, shorts just below the nipples and a metal detector at the beach in your future. I agree that kids today need to study their lessons more and that they are entirely capable of learing anything put before them. I do not subscribe to the notion that my generation was smarter, better, or more intelligent than the young 'uns out there today. They've survived crackhead parents, knuckleheads shooting at cars, and gun battles that were really unheard of before the mid to late 1980's. But your Cosbyesque tirade has as much to do with children feeling left out of school as it does with their parents feeling alienated from the system.Right or wrong, many parents of children in a minority group schooled during integration did not have a Sandra Dee Rydell High School experience. Theirs was more like Rizzo's. Therefore, it is difficult for them to champion the school system when it comes to educating their child. Many of us who grew up during the height of integration (late 1960's- to now) have bitter feelings about public and private schools and it is difficult not to transmit those feelings to your child when you see the school treating them the same way. I come from a small town family of teachers who knew how to work the white man's educational system to get the best opportunity at the schools that were the best funded. It involved fake addresses, clandestine night moves to a cousin's house and drop offs at bus stops miles away from home so I could go to the white school. I saw that and drew respect. But not for the school. It was for my folks, who were making a sacrifice. And after all that, the school still was in the antebellum south. Between 1978 and 1986 I must have fought 10-20 times over racial issues usually related to my presence. I fought with public school kids and private school kids, who were worse because their parents were allegedly more "liberal" and "education minded." So it will be difficult for me to promote faithful participation in school learning without an air of contempt. Much of the learning that my children receive will fall on my shoulders.Which brings me to my next point. Tired parents who didn't get much out of school don't make great teachers. I am not making excuses here. But I would like all to realize that coming home from work, making dinner, and then teaching a child 2 hours of math is not something most parents can do every day for 13 years. They need help. The first thing is to make the kids more responsible through a** whoopings, but advocate for parental help that parents can trust. The trust is the big part that's lacking. That's what we had before integration--a trust that the people at the school cared as much about your kids as you did because they were your neighbors, friends, associates. I never felt that level of trust in my school. It's a shame that hasn't changed.

My Rebuttal: That was deep BD, and I don't wholly disagree. But there's one problem here. You're talking about the problem being bad and biased school systems and tired parents. I agree that those things are rampant. But I'm not talking about the worth of the school. There are smart kids who come out of crappy schools unscathed all the time, because when they get home from school concerned parents talk about homework w/'em and help 'em w/that homework to whatever extent they can. If that view makes me Cosbyesque, so be it. There are worse comedians I could be compared to. Truth is one of my pop's regular refrains coming up was "Son, you are getting a better education than I did." That didn't stop him though from riding my behind and making me do homework and trying to help me w/it, even subjects he might not have been the best in. So tell me what that parental effort has to do with crappy schools and biased schools. My thoughts were all about role models and influences, my friend. And I still say parents, guardians, older siblings, etc., make the best of all.

And BD, I like you. Don't know you, but I like that you don't pull punches. But man, you have got to quit comparing me to Mr. Wilson from Dennis the Menace. I don't care if I live to be 150, I will never wear black socks w/my sandals. My shorts won't ever ride above my waist line. And you won't ever find me on the beach with a metal detector. You gotta give me more cool points than that.


  • I appreciate the love, pop.

    In exchange, I will draw back some of my conclusions about the wardrobe and activities I see in your future. However, if I read something that comes off like "Those rapanblanat kids!! Why, when I was their age..." from a guy who is probably less than 15 years older than most of the jits giving him fits, you will be getting a Meals on Wheels ticket to the local senior center for your next week's lunches.

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 4:28 PM  

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