The Airing of Grievances
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
How Can They Learn?
Students in schools like Lafayette High in the Brooklyn, that is. According to the NY Daily News, "a dean at violence-plagued Lafayette was shoved into an elevator shaft yesterday while trying to break up a wild cafeteria melee." The same Lafayette where in one semester seven students were beaten so badly they had to be hospitalized. The same Lafayette where safety agents have confiscated knives, box cutters and brass knuckles. The same Lafayette where two girls were recently involved in a bat fight. The same Lafayette that averages one violent incident every three days.

The real shame here is that for students at schools such as Lafayette it's nearly impossible for learning to be their primary concern. I mean really, how could it be? When you go to school everyday with the real possibility of being shoved down and elevator shaft, hit with a bat, cracked with a pair of brass knucks, shanked with a box cutter -- sheesh, as I type, I'm picturing something more along the lines of an urban war zone than an institution of learning -- how can you possibly focus on your studies?

The even sadder thing is that this type of craziness has been going on since before I can remember. When I was boy, my father taught in a East New York public school and he'd consistently come home with similar disturbing tales. Gang fights in the cafeteria. Confiscation of guns. Students beating up students. Students beating up teachers. The horrors go on, and on, and on, and on. Our inner city public school system has long since been broken. One generation after another lost to the violence. Little, if any, signs of hope. How can they learn?
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