What you have… What you don’t…

You don’t have to worry about asking me where I’ve been. If you haven’t seen me here, you’ve seen me at chicagonow.com/livingwithdiabetes. I blog for ChicagoNOW about diabetes. Cool, huh?

Anyway, the other day, I was listening to a rant. It was a long, intricate, detailed rant about the Chicago Public Schools system. This person went into detail about how their kid wasn’t being helped to the extent that was possible for the school. They talked about going to the principal, therapists, special ed teachers, writing letters, the whole shebang. This was an educated individual, to say the least, and very knowledgeable on CPS.

After it was all over, she admitted to not knowing a few things that people had to explain to her– ways to work with the system and go about getting to the right people. And out loud I said, “Can you imagine the people who don’t know those things?” And it took me into thought about all those people who are ignorant to systems, language, literacy, or just plain knowing who to talk and they let their children slip through the cracks of our ridiculous education system.

Chicago has the shortest school day and shortest school year in the nation, which is horrendous. I think it’s important for children to be in school longer, something that Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel is putting into effect. The more you learn, the more protection you will have and the wiser you’ll be. Streets will be safer and children will be more likely to go to college. Children’s brains and minds will develop and families will learn how to work with their struggling students. It’s not always about the kid.

Right now, people don’t know. They also don’t know that they don’t know. Get it? It’s like walking in a large room and you’re supposed to do something but don’t know what. There are a million people but you don’t know which person to talk to. They told you to go into the room, but you’re not sure what you’re supposed to do once you get there. That’s how some things are in life and if you don’t know you’re supposed to do it, how are you supposed to know what to do?

This is the answer to a lot of questions out there: Why are Latinos dropping out of school? Why do they have children so young? Why don’t they want to go to college? Moreso, they can all be answered by the lack of education and knowledge.

Kids drop out of school because they don’t find it useful. Education has to evolve, which it’s clearly not doing. Latinos have kids in high school, because that is what came before them, that is what they see. If no one told them not to, why shouldn’t they?

I was talking to a mom here at my job. She’s 22 with two kids and she told me that coming to our agency was the first time she realized she wasn’t supposed to have a kid at 17. Everyone else around her had already had their children and her best friend at 21 has five kids. If that’s what you’re surrounded by, how are you supposed to know any different? She ended up dropping out of high school to take care of her daughter, but over the years got her GED and is now in college. It all worked out for her, but what about the other people out there? What about her friends who weren’t taught how to do things properly? Not even properly, but they weren’t shown how to make the best out of their young lives.

 Latinos don’t think college is valuable when they can get a job. Why pay someone for an education you won’t use, right? When you can go out into the world and make money, why waste your time in trying to learn more crap?

These are the issues we’re facing in schools and because many of these children come from immigrant communities, families don’t know who to ask or what to ask when searching for help. If their kids are in school, that’s good enough, right? The educational system is failing the students in both the short and long-term. Your educational system should bring out the importance of education, the chance to do things, the opportunities that can be realized right in front of your eyes.

There was a test done with children and candy. Each child received two pieces of small candy and were told that they could either eat those now and not get any more or they could wait two minutes and receive three more pieces of candy. Some kids found the correlation that if they wait they get more, where as others found that they would be satisfied instantaneously if they ate the candy they had.

I always say I’ll wait for the three other pieces. Children, teens and even young adults should be taught that taking the longer route may not be satisfying at the moment, but that it can reap more benefits with a little bit of time. But the interest needs to be there to keep these students engaged in what CAN be, not what is. And that’s where the school system and parents are failing.

1 Comment

  1. I think we’re actually tied with LA public schools for the shortest school days in the nation. There is some talk about getting about an hour extra on the school days, but much of that relies on volunteers, which are hard to come by consistently. Great post. I do think the more people know and the more questions are asked the more we’ll shine light on the things that are failing.

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