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
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

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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