As I was standing outside talking to my neighbor the other day, I went into ‘old-school, back-in-the-day, grown-up from the neighborhood’ mode. Now I know some of you many not know what that means, so let me explain.
We were discussing our Homeowner’s Association, or lack thereof, when I spotted a boy (probably around 10 or 11) walking through a neighbor’s yard and throwing a ball against the house. Yes, I said throwing a ball against the house. I stopped my conversation with my neighbor and asked (here comes the ‘old-school, back-in-the-day, grown-up from the neighborhood’ mode):
“Excuse me. Do you live there?”
“No,” he replied.
“Then why are you walking through the yard and throwing a ball up against the house?”
“I wasn’t throwing it hard.”
After I picked-up my bottom lip, I said: “It doesn’t matter how hard you were throwing it. You don’t throw a ball against anyone’s house! And why are you walking through their yard?” I concluded my lecture about respecting the property of others and suggested that they all go do something constructive, like read a book. Couldn’t help it-the teacher in me tends to rear its ugly head every now and then. But I missed something really important that day: The kids really don’t have anything to do out here; here being the burbs without public transportation and an abundance of overpriced recreation and out-of-school programs. These things were expensive a few years ago so imagine the sacrifice now that many more people are either unemployed or underemployed. Let’s fact it: Kids have to be left at home unsupervised because the parents simply cannot take time off or afford one of the afore-mentioned programs.
But this is what gets me: Our kids attend school in the largest district in the state of Georgia, yet the district officials do not see a need to offer some form of programming during the breaks, especially summer. Or maybe they just don’t give a damn. Yeah, I think that’s more likely. After all, many of the surrounding schools are classified as Title I schools so there are extra funds available. What are they doing with those funds? They sure as hell aren’t providing enrichment programs for the kids who qualify. Those services are only available for kids in danger of failing a class or not passing the upcoming Criterion Referenced Competency Test (CRCT). You would think that preparing kids for the test would be top priority for district officials. Oh wait….I forgot: They make teachers use instructional time for test-prep. My bad.
Any way, I will continue to work on grant proposals for this FREE summer program for the same kids I lectured a few days ago. Otherwise, they may end up cutting through my yard and throwing a ball against my house.