Reducing Violence in Schools and Preparing Students for College
Cheryl Conroy – GEAR UP Coordinator – Alachua County School Board
(Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) is a project funded by the federal government to help middle and high school students prepare for college. The goal of GEAR UP is to increase the number of students who attend college and succeed. Starting with 6th graders, during the 1999-2000 school year, students at Howard Bishop and Abraham Lincoln Middle Schools will have GEAR UP services available to them. The services offered by the GEAR UP program include mentoring, tutoring, counseling, parent workshops, after school programs, and field trips. GEAR UP will track students each year through middle and high school, adding new sixth grade classes to the program each consecutive year.
Cheryl Conroy has been professionally involved in education for 25 years. Her experience ranges from preschool programs to adult education.
Working as a volunteer at an elementary school
in Hawaii she observed the behavior of children doing the routine activities of the school day. Fighting and pushing was typical of the behavior that children exhibited in the various situations they encountered. Based on these observations Ms. Conroy realized that the central problem was that the children were not “emotionally literate.” She defined “emotional literacy” as knowing how to maneuver through the world without violence. The solution she visualized was to develop a curriculum to teach children the emotional and behavioral “tools” to relate to other people and empathize with their needs and express their own needs as well. The problem was that the children did not have a model for this behavior and were therefore unable to practice.
This more understanding attitude toward dealing with violent behavior is the basis of the Second Step program. Everyone working with children including parents should be trained in problem solving, empathy, and anger manage
Rick will report on Gov. Bush’s plan to eliminate Florida’s 45-year-old carreer service system. This will change the way Florida hires, fires, and pays state workers.
ment. Even empathy can be taught. The great value in the program is the prevention of problems before they occur, before children become involved in violent behavior or crime and wind up in the juvenile justice system.
Ms. Conroy found that when she engaged the children in discussion about their playground conflicts that, rather than resistance, the children were actually eager to discuss and try to understand their problems the appropriateness of their behavior. This strategy was more successful for dealing with these problems than the authoritarian approach that was typically used by other teachers, ministers, and other people in charge of children’s activities.
Despite the value of the Second Step and other programs Gov. Bush has been working to cut funding for mental health programs for children. The Department of Juvenile Justice has moved violence prevention programs to a lower priority.
There was also some discussion of the reasons for the increased incidence of gun violence in schools. Some of the possibilities pro
Religion in Schools
Shooting at Catholic School
Elizabeth Catherine Bush , student at Bishop Neumann High School in Williamport, Pa. did not fit the profile of what many would expect of the perpetrator of a school shooting. She tacked pictures of Mother Teresa on her wall at home and aspired to be a nun. She discussed God and sent emails describing her religious beliefs to her friends and also the students who were harassing her. When she was rediculed she felt betrayed and resorted to violence. Bush walked into the school cafeteria with one of her father’s guns and shot a fellow classmate in the shoulder. She then put the gun to herown head and threatened to pull the trigger. School staff and another classmate talked her into handing over the gun. Bush was charged with attempted homocide.
After a number of high profile scandals in recent years TV preachers still rake in millions from pious viewers who are duped into thinking that they came buy themselves success, health, and even a place in heaven with a check sent to the address on the screen. While they complain about the media their continued gullibity suggests that they are more addicted to the television than the population at large.
Results of a survey done by the pro-Christian organization, Barna Research Group:
“Born again adults spend an average of seven times more hours each week watching television
than they do participating in spiritual pursuits such as Bible reading, prayer, and worship. They spend roughly twice as much money on entertainment as they donate to their church. And they spend more time surfing the Net than they do conversing with God in prayer. “
Barna Research Group, Ltd. (BRG) is a full-service marketing research company located in Ventura, California. BRG has been providing information and analysis regarding cultural trends and the Christian Church since 1984. web site: http://www.barna.org
Do Christians Watch Too Much Television?
posed were: increased access to guns, particularly among white, middle and upper class children; increased population and even the tension that results from more people per square mile; and copy cat and publicity seeking behavior. Lack of newspaper coverage of school violence in previous decades may make the current upsurge appear more novel than it actually is; newspapers did not consider such incidences newsworthy.
Current and former employees of the Christian Coalition have said that they were subjected to Jim Crow-like working conditions at the headquarters in Washington D.C. They are suing the Coalition in federal court in two separate lawsuits for a total of $621 million.
The suits allege that black female employees were not allowed in the break area provided for white employees which was furnished with a microwave, refrigerator, and other appliances. White employees often received catered food which was not provided for the black employees. The supervisor required black employees to enter and exit the building through the back door. One white employee was asked to spy on the black women and report back to her.
Samantha Henson, a former employee of the Christian Coalition, said, “I’m a Christian and I expected so much from the people with whom I worked but it’s just a total contradiction from what I expected. . .
. I didn’t expect to have to go through [segregation] . . .especially when dealing with Christians, but I was wrong.”
Black employees were not invited to a prayer breakfast the CC sponsored in honor of President Bush.
Before leaving the CC five years ago, Ralph Reed spearheaded the Samaritan Project which was intended to form alliances with black churches around social issues such as opposition to abortion and gay rights. Reed’s objective was to create a broad-based ecumenical movement. After Reed left the Samaritan Project was no long a priority of the CC.
The Christian Coalition is now heavily in debt and membership has dwindled. Lawyers do not expect the lawsuits to be settled out-of-court. Both sides are gearing up for a highly publicized, high-stakes battle. The CC has until April 4 to respond to the lawsuits.
Support for gay rights grows, even in a conservative church association
Gay Marriage Legalized
in The Netherlands
The Netherlands has become the first country to legalize homosexual marriage. The governor of Amsterdam performed a wedding for four couples. The federal government will grant homosexual couples the same rights as hetersexual couples including the right to adopt children.