The kids are alright

One of my neighbors is a good neighbor. His goodness is in the fact that he actively does good, as opposed to the definition of “good” being “doesn’t give trouble.” He picks up trash on the sidewalk, not just in front of his house but on our whole block. When he is so inspired, he’ll take the trash pick up to another adjoining block. He works for a non-profit do-gooder organization, that allows him to go to far off lands to spread the good. This winter he and I shoveled our block. He’s a fascinating guy to talk with, good humored and most of the time good natured.
He’s mentioned his father, when I’ve asked or we’ve talked about why he does what he does, in passing. And one day I came upon one of his dad’s lectures on iTunes University, where his father speaks of my neighbor and his brothers as kids. Which is interesting, because many of us come from somewhere else, so we tend to only know our neighbors as their adult selves, with very little knowledge of what they were like as kids, teens, very young adults.
Anyway, my neighbors father is Raymond Bakke, a professor of urban studies/urban ministry, who has some ideas about city living. One of the ideas (of several) that I found a bit hard core was raising children in a poor urban environment. No private schools, no home schooling. And so my neighbor went to the tough Chicago schools, including High School. Bakke advocates for strong parental involvement. As far as making up for what the public schools lack, he suggests extra enrichment classes. Taking what parents may have spent on private school, he points out, those same funds could go to family trips abroad, books, lessons and other experiences that would enrich their children.
The children that Prof. Bakke mentions in his books and lectures are grown now, and I am honored one lives on my block. My neighbor is a product of urban family living, and it seems that the kids are alright.
… next week more grousing from me about bad teenagers.

5 thoughts on “The kids are alright”

  1. That "school" offers 4 masters degrees with 7 faculty members – impressive!! Also 2 Bakke's faculty are Bakke's. Sorry I have just never seen anything like that.

    However, the idea is very interesting. I think that the money saved on private school could go to amazing uses like trips, music lessons, tutoring, books, museums, experiences, and so on. However, I don't know how I could have made up the difference if I went to a high school that was basically just chaos instead of learning for many hours of the day.

    This might be a good argument against choosing private school, but why not just live in a suburb with good schools like 99% of responsible parents have done recently? I wonder what I'll do when I have school age kids.

  2. On some website that rates schools systems or schools all over the country, I discovered the high school I went to rates lower than many DC high schools. In high school, I spent my time in AP and college track courses. Once I encountered chaos, when I had to use the computers in a classroom that had some poor schlub trying to get his "students" to calm down long enough to "teach" them something.
    There is one kid in the neighborhood, I don't know him incredibly well, who went to Dunbar and now is in college. There is another neighbor who went to one of the DC HS and is currently a Morehouse man.
    There is a reason I don't live in the suburbs, now, which relates to a philosophy of trying to live local and not be car dependent. There are a few things that would move me, and those would put me on Route 1 in PG county. Schools, not that much better, and the communities are a little less walkable. When I have kids I have no desire to become a chauffeur for 18-20 years.
    I am aware of the media and other factors that make the DC schools bad. But there are walking, breathing examples on my block of success in spite of or dispite DCPS, which gives me hope.

  3. I love your neighbor! He's a terrific guy. Definitely the kind of person you want to have on your block.

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