Tuesday, October 03, 2006

HUG-A-THUG

Not only is that the greatest thing to say ever, it was the name of a very inspirational movement that happened last week. A group of out of school youth (which for those of you not in the industry is defined as 17-24 year olds who are not in school and do not have their High School Diplomas. Or High School graduates who are either not in post-secondary education or employed) from many states went to Senate offices to let them know that they too should not be “left behind”. These students are the ones that I had the pleasure to work with this past year and I have to say they were intelligent, motivated, and truly needed help (for the most part). Unfortunately, people in that category are often seen as the Gang Banging illiterate dregs of society (and some of them are), and not as young people who need help.

This group of students is consistently under funded. The Youth Development and Research Fund says that only 3% of the 5.4million youth in this category are receiving services. Obviously, some children will be left behind. Some other nice and depressing statistics are
32% of American Students don’t graduate from High School
50% of African-American and Latino students don’t graduate from High School
In approximately 1,000 American High Schools, graduation is at best a 50/50 chance.
In our poorest districts, only 33% of students will graduate

The programs that fund assistance for these youth are being cut astronomically. It’s easy not to fund programs for people perceived as gang bangers and irresponsible citizens because many people have no empathy for their situation. The sad thing is that although those labels are true for some, many people are in really bad situations that result in them having to leave school. Maybe it is just me, but I would rather educate these youth than have them running around our cities unemployed, uneducated, and surviving by any means necessary. As we can guess, this survival is often to the detriment of the rest of the community because if you have no means for gainful employment you are going to put food on the table somehow. It seems that many people just don’t want to spend money on people they label as scary or hopeless.

In 1979, the year my organization started (and I was born), the Department of Labor spent 6billion on programs to help these youth. Today, we spend 2.6billion. That just makes me want to cry. Not only because many important organizations must have fallen in these last 27 years due to funding cuts, but because our country so obviously doesn’t care. We can have a war on drugs, a crackdown on crime, and a focus on National Security; but couldn’t we eliminate some of those issues with education. Everyone who knows anything understands that “No Child Left Behind” leaves many children behind, but these young people are being left so far behind that there may be no coming back.

The “Thugs” that put together this program hugged many people, including two senators last week. They have formed a coalition of youth in their situation that spans state lines. I hope that they are being heard and considered by people who could possible do something to further their assistance. I hope I have done my little part.
Now, for my Customer Service Training class that starts on Thursday (AAAHHH kinda nervous here wish me luck) I have to figure out how to put the student workbooks together. These workbooks are 69 pages long and I need to bind them somehow. I wonder if our copier can staple that many pages? Then again, if I do it double sided it can certainly staple 35 pages. Unfortunately, when you try to do double sided copies the machine often breaks (remember how they cut funding to our type of programs). I wanted to get file folders with the 3 hole punch things in them but can’t seem to find those in any of the office supply books around the office. We have a few in my old office but I think that they want to use them for the Volunteer Handbooks. Blah.

To calm me I shall listen to music now.

I’d Like To Know, Supergrass- I don’t think I have ever heard this song before. That makes it kind of hard to comment on it. It has a nice OOOOOOHHH-LaLaLa-LaLaLa running through it that I kind of dig. It’s a little hard for me though. But I think if I listen to it more then it will grow one me. I really like those Oohs and LaLas.

I’m so Proud, Curtis Mayfield- Did anyone ever wonder how Curtis Mayfield is such a dork yet so cool? Those glasses should make him a certified nerd for all time. Yet, with a funk like that (even on a slow song like this) he is undeniably cool. I think I will nominate him for an honorary position in the cool club.

Paranoid, Black Sabbath- Remember when I won this Black Sabbath box set and was really mad because Black Sabbath sucked so much? Then remember when after having the set for months I listened to it and realized that Black Sabbath was really good? I had been very anti because I thought they were evil metal heads and I am NOT the type to listen to metal. I then realized that they just freaking rock. Remember when I made a Black Sabbath CD for Shoshana and made the whole family listen to it when we were driving back from York, PA? It was pretty good.

10 comments:

Jaclyn said...

ok, I don't feel so bad now about being absent...you have the righteous ranting thing down for this week it seems...

carry on.

Mom said...

Natalie, can I share the youth-related part of your blog with my Youth Development Leadership cohort and professors? It's great stuff -- passionate, caring, and a very important message.

Do you know if there's a Hug-a-Thug affiliate in Minnesota? Or, if not, how interested folks can get in touch?

And GOOD LUCK with your customer service training class! It will go great, I'm certain.

Anonymous said...

curtis mayield would have to have a posthumous cool club nomination...cuz he's REAL dead.

Kiyotoe said...

Righteous ranting indeed. But hey, somebody's gotta do it. The sad thing is that you are right.

And Curtis Mayfield was as cool as they came. Right up there with Marvin Gaye...............

and Ozzie??????

Anonymous said...

That is a really cool program!

Anonymous said...

Black Sabbath Rule...

Julie said...

Great post on hug-a-thug. So true. I agree with everything you said. Wow. from 6M to 2.2M since '79??? And consideration inflation, that's even more insane!!

Does your office have a binding machine? It's worth the investment to get one if you do things like this pretty often. You could order the spiral bindings and put them together that way. Or go to Kinko's and pay them to spiral bind the packets for you.

Anonymous said...

In my zeal to praise your music taste I forgot to say good luck on the training thing.

p.s you been tagged

Anonymous said...

Curtis Mayfield was as cool as polar bear's toenails.

Anyway, has anyone thought of organising or directing them towards an apprentienceship program where the kids can learn a trade? They've kind of done something similar here ...businesses take on 3 youfs each and teach/train them. It's sustainable...

sunshine scribe said...

Great post Natalie. Hug a Thug - I love that. There is just as much underfunding issues in Canada for youth in the situations you described and rampent misunderstanding. We should be doing this here too.