Thursday, August 14, 2008

Back to school…

***the first day of school in St. Louis city is August 18!!***

This bitch lives in St. Louis city and we have a back-to-school-after-summer-break public school attendance problem.

Blink.

When I first moved back home to St. Louis I was appalled at the low attendance. I don’t have chil’ren and just couldn’t wrap my mind around any of my friends with kids delaying their kids return to class.

If memory serves a bitch, my mother would have camped out for 24 hours in front of school so that we could be the first kids in line on opening day, she was so tired of our shit.
Cough.

Anyhoo, when I became a mentor to a young woman enrolled in St. Louis public schools a harsh light was cast upon the why behind some of that low attendance.

My mentee spent the entire month of July trying to get her uniform together with no money. Her family had moved three times over the summer and she didn’t have all the forms she needed. And she didn’t have shoes…or money for shoes…or anyone in her world that had money for shoes.

I bought her the first pair of new shoes she had been given since babyhood…and then tried to assist her and her mother through the process of paperwork and uniform vouchers and so on and so on.

My mentee’s mother is in-and-out as far as involvement. Her father was recently released from jail and he’s still trying to settle into some sort of routine. So, my mentee’s supports are her friends in the 'hood and me.

And she’s not alone.

When I read that the St. Louis Public School folks have asked fathers to take their child to school the first day it kind of pissed me off.

Oh, I wasn't pissed off by the value of a father angle…that’s the new “it” solution in black America. My father was an amazing dad (rest his soul)…a lousy husband but a really great father…so I’m the last person to dismiss the benefits of a cool as hell dad.

But really, can’t we just this once acknowledge that a complex situation is complex?

The issues I’ve witnessed require action from the community, not just the reintroduction of a father into the picture. Now is not the time for this Cosby-esque shit!

But I guess it is easier to propose more paternal involvement as you toss out some half assed thank you to sistahs raising kids on their own than to address the impact women's pay inequality has on their ability to provide for their children, the role that the lack of investment in the hood has on their ability to proved a safe home for their family or to investigate the many reasons why every mother or father isn’t always the kind of person we want involved in a child's life.

And hot damn, those bureaucrats sure do love the smell of a new initiative in the morning…

***did I mention that the first day of school in St. Louis city is August 18?**

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

O Great One:

I have an unrelated question about the Olympics, but I have to ask some one.

I've noticed the Chinese Olympic symbol [http://www.flickr.com/photos/chinapix/153066427/] and have compared it with "nyu" [http://www.chinese-word.com/data/0949.html]. The two charactes look very much alike.
I've also noticed that the Chinese women are winning the bulk of the medals.

Now for the question: Why do Chinese Girls always get the best studs? I've seen many a White and Black Girl dumped, and it's always the Chinese Girl who has the Ring with the fat sparkly diamond on her finger.

Jaelithe said...

There were definitely times in my childhood when I would have been too poor to afford a uniform.

In fact, I used to dread the idea that my school would switch to a uniform. It would have made it so much easier in some ways, because no one would have been able to tease me for wearing second-hand clothes if we all wore the same thing. But the idea of having to pay for a uniform terrified me.

Hey, if your mentee needs an outfit donated, email me.

Shark-fu said...

Anonymous...
The second link didn't open so...umm, yeah.

As for the "best studs" question, a bitch doesn't hold to absolute statements particularly along racial or ethnic lines. They tend to lead to insulting conclusions about why one group gets X while another group doesn't...and those conclusions perpetuate stereotypes that get us no where.

Love and attraction remain a mystery...and I must confess that I like it that way.

p.s. - and if you wanna rock go get one (wink)!

Ouyangdan said...

Brilliant post as usual.

I see a lot of that here in Hawai'i too. The schools send out looooooong lists of things required for the first day, and you show up w/ your sacks of things and walk around putting them where they need to go. I remember when you showed up to school w/ some paper and a pencil, maybe. I know a lot of families who struggle just to get the basics required for the first day.

Weenie Mensch said...

We had the same problem in New Orleans - it was usually on the front page around this time of year and the mayor campaigned to convince people to get their kids to school on the first day of class. In New Orleans, there is an apathy that hangs over the populace like malodorous gumbo in most areas though.

I love your blog title and had to put it on my links....

http://magisanafamily2.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Blogger ate my post!

Shark-Fu, I can contribute supplies or clothes for your mentee. I usually do something of this nature through the SLU backpack program for grade and middle school kids, but I must have missed the email this year. (Summer has flown!). For clothes, I'd prefer to donate a gift card from target or wherever, since my fashion sense is that of the middle-aged white geek that I am. Contact me today or anytime at

np453
at
yahoo
dot
com

Nancy Phillips