To the editors:
Reading “A national trend: Black and Latino boys predominate in emotional support classes,” in the Winter 2008 edition, truly impressed me – especially the work of an intern (Sylvia Morse), while a senior in college.
That being said, let’s turn to the rest of the story, of failure on the part of the District to serve African American and Latino boys.
School suspensions don’t solve the problem for those who hate classes. Nor does placement in private “boot training” settings until kicked out. A band-aid is simply put on a festering cancer.
Troublemaking students often present the profile of boys ages 14-16, who are African American or Hispanic, from low-income families, frequently truant, and with three failures at their former school. A startling 95 percent of Black boys at the Youth Study Center had trouble reading. Difficulty with reading means students perform poorly academically and ultimately in the job market. They drop out of school, don’t go to college, and go to jail. Yet in citing budget cuts, the Mayor fought to close 11 public libraries.
Teachers must motivate our bored and acting-out boys rather than blame them and then label them “emotionally disturbed.” Good grades often beget more of the same. And if rewards are found in the classroom, they may lead to some outside the classroom.
Napoleon N. Vaughn
The writer is a licensed clinical psychologist in Philadelphia.