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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

"I Don't Want My Children Exposed To Bad People"

That was a comment I received in a conversation with a woman when discussing education. She's well-to-do woman and had no faith in the public school system. I'll admit public schools do have some problems. Some public schools have more problems than others. Yet is was the way she said she didn't want her children exposed to "gangs, drugs, and guns" that make it sound like she didn't want her kids exposed to those riff-raff.

I politely, yet firmly, noted that children are children and our societal influences are everywhere. If she didn't think gangs, drugs, and guns were in every school then she was sadly mistaken. I felt her tone had a classism element to it, but I ignored it.

Why do I bring this up? With a sad sense of irony I saw this story online. It appears one 17 year old boy brought a 9 mm pistol to school. He sold it to a 16 year old classmate. Somehow school officials found the pistol in the 16 year old's SUV. He was expelled. The 17 year old is suspended for now. The Sheriff's Department is investigating the incident. Did this occur in the downtrodden Indianapolis Public Schools? Did it occur in one of the township schools? No, it occurred at Park Tudor, an elite private school covering K through 12 grades. The same school the woman sent her kids to.

I hope this woke her up a bit. I hope it shocked her assumptions about modern life. There are no completely safe places. Bad things can and do happen everywhere. Your family's money can buy good teachers and a well disciplined environment, but it might not buy good students and friends. Many students from poor families in the public schools want to learn. Some students want to be around drugs, guns, and gangs regardless of how much their parents earn. The best you can do is to be actively involved in your children's lives, but realize you can't protect them from everything.

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