They come from homes where the mother and father are alcoholics, drug addicts, illiterate, abused, handicapped, or just dirt poor. From the day they start school they are behind so no one really takes the time to help these children catch-up or keep up. Many of them fall through the cracks of the current educational system by the time they are in the second grade. Many are labeled. Others are simply left behind or expelled from school. What is our country coming too when kindergaten children are being expelled.
So I ask myself, Alternative to what? Many of these children have no home life. They struggle to find love, they struggle to find food, they struggle to find clothing, and they struggle to find shelter. They are totally focused on surviving one more day. Sometimes the parents of these children threaten and beat them because they don’t do well in school but the children don’t understand the lesson they have been given. The teacher did not spend enough time explaining it to them and the parents can’t help them. Soon these children begin devising coping mechanisms to overcome their defficiency. They rationalize that school is the problem so they begin to rebell. They rebell against all authority.
Again alternative to what? I do not see problem students in the alternative setting but children who have problems that can be solved if they had those who really cared helping them. So many times these students never get the help they need. They are crying out for help but it never comes. They are told to study their lesson but they can’t read and those who can read the words can’t comprehend what they read. They need help not an alternative way of throwing them aside.
This is not new it has been going on for years. I was one of those children but I was never cast into an alternative setting back then because we did not have one. Instead I received help from a network of people who cared. I am one who was rescued. I am one who escaped the labels. So I empathize with these children because they are not to blame. They are victims of a tragedy. They face a tragic home life only to grow up and go to school and have the public school system cast them into a tragic learning situation that cannot possibly help them.
Some do make it because of the few caring teachers who go the extra mile to help that child that touch their heart. But the majority of the students are fighting a losing battle. They are given no chance of survival. What alternative do these children have but to fight for their life. They find it hard to trust adults when every adult in their life have let them down. They find it hard to trust the system when each system has labeled them. They hear the family members cussing each other. They see them drinking and getting drunk. They see them smoking pot. They see a community filled with people who are just like them. What do you think happens after the kids have been part of this environment from a baby up to school age. Then educators are charged with teaching little Johnnie from poverty’s pit and Greg from success’s pent house in the same classroom at the same pace while expecting the same behavior and the same results.
The system place impossible expectations upon both set of children and therefore create an environment of unrest. Unfortunately it is the child from poverty’s pit who is ill mannered and filled with acts of inappropriate behavior. I wonder where they learned too display this type of behavior. I wonder where they learned no one cares.
So the system casts them into an alternative education setting designed to help them but instead it simply delays their entrance into life ill equipped to survive. The education system is failing our nation’s children both those in the alternative setting and in the regular setting. In many instances the only alternative these children have is to fight for what they believe and when all you know is cussing, drinking, getting high, and running in the streets what more can you expect from them?
We believe we are saving them from the street and a life filled with misery and strife. Are we? Could it be that we are part of the problem? Could it be that we have unintentionally been party to creating a class of people who will one day be called the have nots? I believe there is an alternative for these children but we must first alter their environment and we have to do it more than just the hours they are in school. If we fail to educate our nation’s children, then I ask you what alternative will they have-what alternative will we have when children from around the world take their jobs? What alternative will they have when our country is surpassed in every category that matters? So I ask that question again alternative education is an alternative to what?