Bill Gates Unplugged

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

First Day of School: What Next?

By Eddie Griffin

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Nearly 50 ministers on Monday embraced plans for students to boycott at least the first day of Chicago Public Schools classes… Also Monday, another group of clergy urged a different tactic on Chicago's first school day. Organizers of the 5th annual Million Father March asked fathers to escort children to class on Sept. 2. (“A school boycott, or not?” Robert Mitchum and Ray Long, Chicago Tribune)

Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? (James 3:11)

Wouldn’t you just know it? The Chicago Tribune discovered this apparent contradiction arising from the African-American community.

On the one hand, the Million Father March seeks to recruit “500,000 men in 300 cities to take their children to school this first fall school day”. While on the other hand, Chicago State Senator James Meeks “has issued a call for all school kids in Chicago's poorest districts to boycott the first day at their assigned school and instead head to resource-rich predominately white schools and attempt to register there.”

Before we conclude the right hand don’t know what the left hand is doing, let’s examine what these two different strategies entail.

The Million Father March is an annual national event originally designed to get fathers more involved with their children’s education. Historically, fathers have been the absent factor in a child's education. Recent experience has shown that children accompanied to school on the first day with their fathers exhibit more pride and are less fearful.

The boycotters of the Chicago school system have one primary local focus: the disparity in education funding. By skipping registration at the home school and seeking to register in the “resource-rich predominately white schools”, students in poor schools might gain a contrasting view of what the best schools offer, as compared to their own.

But how can both strategies work in the same city at the same time, with the million father back-to-school movement, on the one side, and a boycott on the other?

It is impossible for both events to occur without one undermining the other... UNLESS.

Note that both plans anticipate that all students attend school on the first day, whether their home school or whether to try and register at the better school. In either case, the father should accompany their child, especially those who try to get into a new school where they might not be particularly welcomed.

Whether the black community can come together with a merged strategy or whether each movement will pursue its own agenda will be an interesting dilemma to see played out.

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