We won’t fight crime with police – fight crime with education

My boyfriend and I were recently watching the movie “Blood Diamond.” Certainly reminds us that we live in a 1st world country as even our poorest people don’t have to live in situations as grave as portrayed in the movie. However, I was still able to draw connections between the life portrayed in the movie and the life of kids and adults who do not receive a quality education in the US.

What I saw portrayed in the movie was a country with very minimal resources and all the people living there gathering into “gangs” and fighting each other for one of the most viable resources the country has – its diamonds. Young children are forced into working manual labor, being recruited for the “gangs,” being turned against their family, being brainwashed into thinking what they are doing is right. All to support individuals at the top, and not actually benefiting the people doing the work.

I gotta say, that sounds like most of the experience of our kids in the streets of the US. Obviously, I haven’t experienced this for myself, but we know these things are happening. The kids in the US may have more government stability, more access to clothes and material things, more access to food, more access to education, more access the healthcare than the kids portrayed in the movie – but their lives function much of the same.

When your family and your school fail to show you the value in being a productive citizen, when schools fail to provide an engaging education and when we fail to listen to and counsel our students – they find a teacher that will. Life on the streets provides a sense of value, power, importance, employment – because kids are not receiving that type of environment at school. And really what is in the middle? Either you see the value of education and want to make a positive life for yourself, or you turn to others who can help you get it in an unproductive way. What does that say for those who follow neither path?

As I examine issues of crime through my role with my Neighborhood Watch, it all comes back to education. Every single criminal has been failed by our education system – likely by others too including their family. But we had a chance to help them see a positive contribution to society and we failed to engage with them in a way that encouraged positive behavior.

And once you commit one or two crimes, now you have to overcome the enormity of little or no education AND have to check the box that you committed a crime. How can you become gainfully employed with no education and a criminal record? If you can’t make an honest living, then you are left to the life of a criminal.

We won’t fight crime with police – fight crime with education.

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Recent police incidents lead me to think about teachers

I’ve been thinking alot about the recent incidents with police and how we’ve potentially been exposed to the truth that there are some police out there that don’t always act in the public interest and we’ve had some very alarming fatalities – on both sides. Generally speaking, the police are the good guys, right? But we know that there are police who aren’t. And they probably amount to a small percentage overall. But are they still a risk to our community? Shouldn’t we do everything we can to make sure as many of our police are the “good guys?” I hardly think someone would argue that we should knowingly continue to allow a police officer to continue working if he/she was clearly a danger.

I believe the same goes for teachers. The percentage of teachers who really should not be teaching is probably a very small percentage. However, aren’t they also creating harm by ineffectively teaching students? Every single day that a student has an ineffective teacher is one that he/she will never gain back. School days that turn into weeks and years, of potentially wasted educational time. Time that students and parents and taxpayers expected our schools to deliver effective teaching that will also help develop effective, caring citizens.

I am not anti-teacher. I, myself, love teaching, I want to be a teacher, I am a licensed school counselor, I want to make our school the best they can be. I want to pay great teachers more for the great value they provide. It’s unfortunate that the only way teachers make more money is through step increases and it may take 20-30 years to make 70-100K IF the teacher lasts that long. But I can’t stand paying any teacher that isn’t effective in the classroom. And I agree there are a great many that fall into that category that have not been properly supported through administration and appropriate professional development including an effective evaluation. And we owe those teachers the support, an extensive evaluation and appropriate professional development to meet their teaching needs.

But there is a small portion of teachers just like the small portion of police that aren’t doing their jobs. And we wouldn’t be doing ours as citizens if we weren’t looking out for our communities and taxpayer dollars.

I’m the neighborhood watch coordinator for my neighborhood and crime is constantly a struggle. But for me, it’s about the kids that our education system (and maybe their parents too) have failed, and they have few choices but to lead a life of crime. We can’t fight crime with more police, we need to fight crime with a quality education with effective teachers for every student.