Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Teens' T-Shirts Make Educators Squirm

Teens' T-Shirts Make Educators Squirm - Washington Post

During winter cold & flu season everybody gets sick, but the pertinent question is who dies? Statistically it is the very young and the very old. Their vulnerability lies in their compromised immune systems. The immune system of babies is underdeveloped, while advanced aging slowly weakens the elderly.

In an educational sense, the population of Black schoolchildren also represents a greater vulnerability that displays itself in academic performance, graduation rates, and reduced pursuit of higher education.

Perhaps we should consider teenage extra-curricular 'expressionism' in school the same way we think about germs and viruses. These seemingly harmless, if not annoying, distractions are not affordable for kids with graduation rates just over 50%, and even less for Black boys whose rates hover near 45%.

The impact of the greater list of teenage distractions, the proverbial sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll - now Rap/Hip-Hop, by nature, present a myriad of enticing challenges to all youth that is also part of their passage to adulthood. But for too many Black kids, the weight of these distractions, along with other challenges is simply too much, and they fail to make the 'grade'. All of society, beginning and ending with the child, is left with the burden.

So before we give in to the protest of the students who simply, in their words, need to express themselves, we should consider that just as good parents/caregivers protect their vulnerable loved ones from the flu and colds, the same commitment and diligence is due our students.

James C. Collier


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