I watched Blind Side last night with my family on video, and I thought it was a well done film. It is one of the better films I have seen lately. Having grown up in my formative years in the Bronx NY, I was very familiar with the housing projects, and the sad conditions created by this government “solution” to provide housing for the poor.
My heart was touched while I was watching the movie as I had flashbacks to similar scenes, with different faces, but the same miserable conditions I witnessed as a High School kid 35 years ago. The original intention of the projects was to provide “affordable” housing for the poor, but instead of helping the community, it created an atmosphere where the accepted life style was government welfare, section eight subsidies, food stamps, teenage pregnancy, HS drop outs, drug dealers, and the false impression that this was the way the rest of the world lived.
The community has been separated from the hope and opportunity that life offers. The kids in these projects, just like “Big Mike” in the movie, live in a world that offers no hope, and life is a day to day struggle for survival. “Big Mike’s” life was changed by being around people that knew a better way of life and valued education; a private education. If there was a clear morale to the story it was education is the key to success in life.
As a person who attended the same public schools that the people in the projects did, I understand that public education is far inferior to a private education in these communities at risk. Sending kids from the projects into public schools with more kids from the projects perpetuates the cycle of acceptance, and provides no examples of hope that these kids need. It can’t be fixed by busing these kids to different schools and forcing other schools to accept them as we did in the sixties, it’s about allowing the development of schools in these communities unburdened by the same government bureaucrats that have been running the programs that have created the mess.
Forcing teachers to teach in these schools as the Secretary of Education is considering is not the answer either. The SOE Arne Duncan talks about choices but he believes that education is a “civil rights” issue. This is the wrong approach, and adding more government, forced on people through legal battles will only inhibit the creative solutions that are needed to really fix the problem of education. The problems in education are targeted and don’t need blanket approaches. But the solution has to go beyond public schools, and needs to focus on a change of culture. This happens not through government but through individuals that care about their communities.
The inner city is a disgrace, and the common denominator is government programs. The cradle to grave approach of government has devastated the minority communities of this country. The government is the problem. Every “solution” adds to the misery. As we see in Blind Side, Big Mike found success when people around him believed he could do it, and helped him help himself. He was not surrounded by a culture of government; he was surrounded by compassion and success.
We need to get government out of the lives of people so they can make their way in this world, and have the opportunity to succeed. We can’t provide success but we can provide the compassion needed to help all of the “Big Mike’s” of the world. We can be compassionate by getting them away from the government culture that is holding them back…