I got on my run this AM at about 7:30. It was brisk, but still t-shirt weather. I was headed down into the hood, about a mile and half into a good sweat when I spotted the drug machine at work. A dealer had tossed a bag (the kind we use to reduce plastic at the grocery store or carry books home from the library) attached to a line down from the second floor of one of the housing projects on this particular regular route of mine.
Across the street, I noticed a tall African American man - or at least he seemed to be African American. There was no way for me to tell if we really wasn't just another African immigrant or from one on the islands, but that's besides the point. If the mainstream media were there, they wouldn't bother clarifying this man's ethnicity. He was tall and getting out of a red, beat up, what looked like a Nova. He strode across the street with purpose and in about two strides reached into the bag, and pulled out a plastic baggy. Now, I'm not drug user or expert, but the stuff inside the baggy looked like drugs to me. And, by that time I was about 10 feet away from these two fine, upstanding citizens.
The man strides back to his car while putting the baggy under his overly big shirt and coat while the person holding the line hoists the bag back into the building. I ran on.
As I rounded the corner, I noticed I was about a block and a half from City Hall. About a half a mile later, I noticed a motorcycle cop and wondered if I should report this incident to the cop. What for? These two folks would have been long gone, and I didn't really see the person in the building. And, it was nearing 8:00 AM.
Later that AM, as I munched on my two eggs and toast swilled with dark Viennese Roast Coffee freshly brewed in the Italian stove top pot, I noticed an article about the failing schools in our City. Apparently, because of the court ordered desegregation directive ended, the schools are naturally becoming re-segregated. There was a scathing critique about how the resegregation is going to lead to the downfall of the schools, particularly in neighborhoods like I just ran through.
Then the thought hit me - isn't blaming the failure of particular student's test scores about the same as blaming a drug dealer for your addiction? Really, I don't think that it is purely the fault of the dealer that you might be hooked on whatever barbiturate you enjoy, nor is it purely his/her fault that there is a drug problem in America. Likewise, I don't think that the result of poor test scores for children is purely the fault of bad teaching or bad schools. The end user shares the blame.
There in lies the bigger problem. Like America's problem with drugs, the problem with education in America requires a broader fix than simply desegregating our schools. Perhaps, even, the only thing that desegregation accomplished was to statistically mollify the politicians. Actually, I don't believe that last sentence - indeed, all students benefit from interacting with people from a variety of cultures. But, we really have been kidding ourselves if we think that busing kids two hours across town when they have perfectly good schools in their own neighborhoods put them at a disadvantage because they have less time at home to do the homework.
Perhaps, if we were to turn the energy we spend on the failed war on drugs and used the funding to improve our schools we would accomplish two things: 1) do a better job at educating our youth, and 2) decrease the number of people who either use or sell drugs by educating them and illuminating another path for them.
These are just my raw thoughts on the subject and I will be ruminating over them as I go about my day taking care of my two sons. May post more, but I would be grateful to hear your thoughts on the subject.