Here are a few excerpts...
Urban teachers face an intractable problem, one that we cannot spend or even teach our way out of: teen pregnancy. This year, all of my favorite girls are pregnant, four in all, future unwed mothers every one...
Personal moral accountability is the electrified rail that no politician wants to touch.
Thanks to the feds, urban schools like mine... public schools with large low-income populations... are swimming in money. At my school, we pay five teachers to tutor kids after school and on Saturdays. They sit in classrooms waiting for kids who never show up.
Within my lifetime, single parenthood has been transformed from shame to saintliness. In our society, perversely, we celebrate the unwed mother as a heroic figure...
Movie stars and pop singers flaunt their daddy-less babies like fishing trophies. None of this is lost on my students. In today’s urban high school, there is no shame or social ostracism when girls become pregnant. Other girls in school want to pat their stomachs.
Boys without fathers cultivate an overweening bravado to overcome a deeper sense of vulnerability and male confusion. They strut, swear, and swagger. There’s a he-man thing to getting a girl pregnant that marks you as an adult in the eyes of your equally unmoored peers. But a boy’s interest in his child quickly vanishes. When I ask girls if the father is helping out with the baby, they shrug. “I don’t care if he does or not,”
The path for young, unwed mothers—and for their children—can be brutal. Consider how often girls get molested in their own homes after Mom has decided to let her boyfriend move in. The boyfriend splits the rent and the food bill, but he often sees his girlfriend’s teenage daughter as fair game.
And there are other dangers. I once had a student named Jasmine, who had given birth over the summer. One day, I observed her staring off mulishly into space for nearly the entire period, not hearing a word I said and ignoring her assignment. At the end of class, I took her aside and asked, with some irritation, what the matter was. Her eyes welled with tears. “I gave my son to his father to look after yesterday. When I picked him up, he had bruises on his head and a cut.” Her son was six months old.
Every fall, new education theories arrive, born like orchids in the hothouses of big-time university education departments.
Every year, the national statistics summon a fresh chorus of outrage at the failure of urban public schools. Next year, I fear, will be little different.
Behaviour that is rewarded will be repeated.
Behaviour that gains approval will be imitated.
I believe that the death of decency; the death of outrage; the death of shame in this area, will be the ultimate downfall of our society.
Years ago my daughter worked in a grocery store. One of the other cashiers, not married, got pregnant. She was heartily congratulated. Smiles and giggling and laughter and plans for baby showers all around. But when my daughter announced she was getting married, (she was not pregnant) everyone thought she was crazy to give up her freedom at such a young age.
The world is upside down. I'm afraid I find it all rather discouraging. As I have said before, I'm a bit of a fatalist in one sense. The world will go the way the world will go. But I hate to see what the attitude of the world is doing to these young people. I am sad for what is happening to them. And I am sad for what they are bringing upon themselves through their choices. And I am angry at a society that seems to push them toward those choices. If only they could see the better way. And if only the world would stop blinding them to it.