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Re: “Party 2 Nite. R U Going?

I think Kristen misses a few points here and is indulging in a little over- the -top hysteria.

The first is that we cannot project a line from some kids making naughty comments on an anonymous blog to Columbine. Teens love the anonymity of the internet because they can say all kinds of silly things that they might not say in person. And if it gets the parents riled; zowie! Bonus points! Columbine, and as far as I remember all high school shootings were perpertrated by students who gave little or no outward signs (threats, harrassment) of their impending actions. And most important: they were uniformly committed by white males. The overtones of rascism in these letters is very distressing; thug culture is black; crime is black; why are our white kids acting like this?

The crime statistics at Berkeley High, and all Berkeley schools, is public information. Contact the Student Services office for copies. I can't tell you exactly - note it is not during the school day that I write - but I can guess that the majority of suspensions at BHS (as they are at my school) are for fighting, with the majority of fights between same-race (black on black) students. And the majority of suspensions are by repeat offenders. So yes, there are these troubled students in our schools, but as Krasnor says, what do you want us to do with them? They are entitled-as are all US children - to a "free, appropriate, public eduction." Berkeley High does expel, although with a great deal more due process now because of recent court rulings brought about through litigation on behalf of minority students. And the district spends a fortune in costs related to placing severely disturbed students in non-public schools. So the idea that somehow schools can waive a magic wand a make these kids disappear is more Pollyanna than thinking they can all learn to get along.

My observation over the years - for all it's worth and that may not be much - is that parents send their kids to school programmed with the parents' own fears. The white parents instill in their kids the idea that they are going to get beat up (generally by black kids but mostly by the overriding label of "bullies"). The black parents instill in their kids the idea that they are going to be put down, denigrated, or "punked" by the white kids and their parents. In my experience the latter happens far more often than the former.

The kids in high school were my students in elementary school. It's so beautiful to see how kids of races all come to kindergarten, excited and eager to learn. But the constant grinding down of the judgemental, the put downs, the snobbery, along with the day- to- day stuggle of povery, addiction, and loss of family to prison or the streets, make some of them quickly lose that spark. And those chickens also come home to roost in high school.

Please let it be known I do not condone violence in my classroom, school, or city. But please don't put all the blame on the "other". Thug culture is an outgrowth of white culture. I'm really not seeing anything in this article that didn't happen at my high school parties on the east coast in the early '70's. And I know that Berkeley parents would not like the type of "good" high school I attended, where girls' skirts had to touch the knee, students were required to address all adults as "Sir" and "Ma'am", and all the black kids were in vocational courses (usually in another building) Or do you?

Free 2 B

0 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by J. Waggoner on 01/13/2008 at 10:50 PM

Re: “Party 2 Nite. R U Going?

As a parent of a BHS student and a teacher in a Berkeley elementary school, I am fascinated by the discussion by and about several of our former students. In elementary school, the three overarching rules of student behavior are: show respect, make good decisions, and solve your own problems. I think all the posters, and parents in particular, can appreciate the simplicity in following these guidelines.

High school is a time when many chickens come home to roost. It is my observation that children who are raised by micro-managing uber-parents are as poorly equipped to deal with the challenges of life as are the children of absent or dysfunctional parents. Parents who constantly rescue and defend their children, sheilding them from the consequences of their own behavior come in all colors and from all classes, but the damage they do to their childrens' ability to function in society is the same. Blaming others and institutions for their child's poor decisions does not make a responsible or empathic adult.

Learning to negotiate the maze of cross-cultural understanding, dealing with bullies (both adult and peer), recognizing and acknowledging the humanity in everyone, knowing when to share your opinions and when to keep them to yourself are important life skills. Criticizing people's spelling and grammar (don't get me started on correcting the teacher), pointing the finger at others, not taking responsibility for your own contribution to problems, and hyper-vigilantism are not virtues.

I have heard many many times from the mother bears of the world that "the school does nothing". I know the administration and staff at BHS (as they do in all Berkeley schools) work very hard to solve student problems and provide a peaceful and productive environment. So it is interesting to see the same problems in elementary school played out, larger, at BHS, and hear from the same parents that sent their kids to elementary school with a chip on their shoulder (trust me, the worst thing a parent of a bright child can do is tell thim that he is "special" or better than everyone else) complain that they are getting "picked on" in high school. The kids are posting what they think of these overprotected children. There are so many more HS students who are able to deal with bullies and "thuggism" through avoidance, humor, and even friendship and empathy than those who get picked on because they snitch or condescend or instigate.

So kids: everything you need to know from elementary school is:

Show respect: Don't insult, condescend, or judge. The people you snub on the way up (that includes teachers and parents) you may need on the way down.

Make good decisions: Stay away from situations where you may be in danger. Don't go to parties you aren't invited to or places where you are not wanted. And remember that substance abuse and good decision-making are antithetical.

Solve your own problems: Maybe this one the parents need to let you learn to do now.

Parents: From what I see, the kids are all right (you go, Water Safety!) Just get over the B and N words, they, like those baggy pants, will pass.

free 2 B

Posted by J. Waggoner on 01/11/2008 at 3:02 PM

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