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Saturday, May 23, 2015

By calling for mentors to stem violenece, community leaders show they just don't get it.

Bishop John Guns joined a long list of local dignitaries in a call for mentors and like all the rest he got it wrong.

From the Times Union: Guns’ message Thursday night was clear:
“We need to remove the stigma that black men don’t care,” he said to the group, which was made up mostly of black men from the community.
He said the violence in Jacksonville is not only a problem in the black community but the goal of the new program is to get volunteers into several schools over the final two weeks of the semester to show the students there are other possibilities in life besides violence.
The volunteers will be sent into Ribault, Raines, Jackson, First Coast, Lee and Westside high schools as well as Matthew Gilbert, Ribault, Northwestern and Jeff Davis middle schools.
Men in attendance were strongly encouraged to sign up to be volunteers through the school system since there is a policy in place prohibiting people from being on campuses unless they are registered with Duval County.
Interested men can sign up by going to
The church Thursday was filled with members of the Duval County School Board, the City Council, fraternities and area ministers.
Mayor Alvin Brown was also in attendance two nights after losing the mayoral election to Lenny Curry.
“I’ve been engaged before I become mayor, working with the schools and working with young people so I will continue to always do that,” Brown said after the meeting. “That will be my life’s work.”
Wow members of so the school board and the mayor was there too!
How nice, by my unofficial count this is the umpteen millionth mentoring program started over the last few years here in Jacksonville.

Look I think mentoring programs are valuable and I wish we had a hundred thousand mentors for our students but the truth is mentors are pretty low on our list of needs and by constantly calling for more mentors the powers-that-be continue to show their complete lack of understanding, they aren’t trying to solve the problems in our schools and streets, instead they are paying lip service to them.

We need apprenticeships where kids can learn about jobs and if they do well have a foot in the door at companies.

We need busses to take kids home who stay after school for disciplinary reasons or for extra academic help (I was told at my last school we didn’t do after school detention because there was no way to get the kids home). Why isn’t extra help compulsorily? You know who usually stays after for tutoring? The good kids who want more and the desperate kids who let their problems snowball.

We need electives to school isn't complete drudgery for many. We need arts, skills and trade programs because not every kid is going to go to college and we need to provide for them as well. We need legitimate summer school opportunities not putting kids on computers or stuffing 25 in a class and we need school psychologists and social workers because so often why kids act up or do poorly in school has nothing to do with school.

What do all these things have in common besides being more important than mentors? They cost money. 

Blue ribbon panels, politicians, editorial boards, bishops and business groups all say mentors are the way to go ignoring most of our real needs and I believe the main reason they do so is because mentors are cheap. Yes they are important and we need them but as a teacher in the school system let me thank you for putting a hello kitty band aid on a shot gun wound.

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