Wednesday, November 18, 2009
(fm the BC thread "Forlorn hope")
The great tragedy of the Mexican diaspora though is the absorbtion of American squalor.
La Eme is a product of the CA prison system.
The Official Line in Latin America is that the US is exporting crime and corruption South. That is why Napolitano's initiative to inspect Southbound traffic, separate from the possible merits of the program, fits a larger narrative.
Traditional patriarchal cultures have the tools to control the pathologies, corruption and latent violence, we associate with them. The key word in my last sentence is "latent." In a small rural traditional community life is very organized and disciplined. Everyone knows their place. While there is the potential for young men to turn violent it rarely happens. Those impulses are either exported, into the military if kept socially redeemable or into criminal gangs that prey on outsiders but at a social cost or they are sublimated into religious and social rituals. That is why tourists can visit an authoritarian hell hole and remark on how peaceful and friendly everyone was. The price people pay for that level of control is ignorance and stagnation.
When I taught in the most dangerous school in New York City there were only two parts of the system that worked. By worked I mean maintained a functioning classroom atmosphere in which some level of education could take place.
First was the Special Ed program which is run as a separate world at vast cost in which there are usually two adults present with a very small number of students. The teacher is under little pressure to achieve results so any progress makes them look like a genius. In the very controlled conditions many emotionally disabled students do respond and I have known Special Ed teachers who love their work.
When the system insists on moving the identified Special Ed students into the general population, known as "Mainstreaming" chaos results. Remember that many of the regular students are not evaluated as belonging in a special program because there are pressures not to make the diagnoses due to the costs involved. Mainstreaming always comes with the promise of additional support resources and stirring PC affirmations of inclusion and exposure being a valuable teaching experience for all concerned. They lie about the resources, the idea is to cut costs, and the rhetoric reveals a typical elitist program that uses human beings as objects in an emotionally motivated experiment at the cost of real education and opportunity.
Second was the Bilingual program. Before I started teaching my prejudice was to object to a special program for Spanish speakers on political grounds, then I saw what happened. Note that the term Bilingual covers two formats, one in which students are mixed in with the general population with additional special services offered. That is similar to mainstreaming Special Ed students and leads to disaster. The other system that works is where Bilingual is really Monolingual and is run as a separate system with its own teachers and student body, in effect a school within a school. The closed Spanish language classrooms worked. They were an island of calm in a sea of chaos.
Picture the Social Studies department office, with three or four teachers hanging around on their off period. A student pokes his head around the door, "Hey Teach I needs (or my Teach needs, or Da Man needs) this copied." The response would be "Drop dead" or some variant thereof. A second student arrives and knocks on the door. "Who is it?" "Pardon Señor, Professor Salazar sent me. He would like to know if I could make some some copies please?" "For Professor Salazar? But of course. I shall make the copies for you." People stand up to help and smile at the student. Teachers would volunteer to cover "Professor" Salazar's class if he was not there.
Two students arrive in The Bronx on the same day. They both come from islands in the Caribbean. They both come from so far back in the hills that you have to pump in sunlight. They both show up their first day in crisp white shirts and dark pants and new shoes. Both are soft spoken and polite. One comes from an Island where the official language is English and the other from an island where the official language is Spanish. In point of fact neither is really fluent in a standard form of any language, they both might as well have come from the Moon. The Spanish speaker goes into the special program and the English speaker into the regular program. In 60 days the student placed in the regular program is trashed. His pants are falling off, his mouth is foul, his associates are criminals, his prospects are nil. The student placed in "Professor" Salazar's class has a fighting chance.