Items on My Mind

Things that compel a comment

Time to Stop Harassing Poor Folks

By Caleph B. Wilson

As a “Son of Mississippi” I am very proud of the early experiences that shaped my life.  My family and the people that I group-up around did their best to teach me and encourage me to work hard and effectively.  In turn, each time an opportunity presented itself, I worked to be appropriately prepared for it.  Given the experiences that  I have had one thing is very clear:  The notion that one pulls themselves up by their boot straps is nonsense.

Without all of those folks who decided to follow the Southern phrase, “If can’t do nothing to help ya, I ain’t gone do nothing to hurt ya,” it would have been impossible for me to follow my dreams.  So, any success attributed to me is not mine alone.  My family, friends and supporters are just as responsible.  They provided the guidance, while my role was to put in the required honest effort.

This is where I take issue with the cognitive dissonance of those in my home state (and around the country and world) that blame poor people for not working hard enough to get anywhere.  Further, poor folk are constantly characterized as “takers.”  The truth is that most folks that are considered poor go to work every day.  Today’s poor folks are just like the ones that raised me.  Each day starts before with a prayer before the sun peaks over the horizon.  Kids are readied for school, breakfast is prepared and the family parts looking forward to the new day.  Each adult takes pride in earning an honest pay and children are excited about learning.

So, these poor folk are not “takers.”  They don’t look for anything that is not earned.  Instead, their expectation is that hard work will be rewarded.  Yet, a lifetime can pass without any reward.

These poor folk are told how they are dependent on the government.  How the Federal government is trying to take their freedom.  Government is “bad.”

Well, here’s what I have to say to poor people.  When you are confronted with those folk that refuse to recognize your hard work at school or on the job, remind them of these words, “JUDGE not, that ye be not judged.”  Also, remind them of the hypocrisy of pseudo-leaders Those same so-called leaders that chastise you for expecting help from the tax dollars that you and your family has paid or will pay.  Remind them that 40% of the Mississippi state budget is provided by tax payers from all around the country.  Ask those pseudo-leaders if why are they accepting a handout from “Big Gov’ment.”  Look them in the eye and ask why they are not helping themselves.

So, all of you hardworking folk that happen to be poor:  Don’t pay attention to the non-sense.  Keep striving to give yourself and your family a better life.  Remember, folks like you are the backbone of this country.  Your compassion for and love of these United States is what leads people from all over the world to risk life and limb to live where you live.

NOTE:  The post above is drawn from my personal experiences, however, the opinion can be applied to all 50 states.  I was driven written to address the growing number of media reports that quote folks unjustly blaming the poor.

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School Security: Out of the Frying Pan Into the Fire?

By Caleph B. Wilson

Before the end of the school year a middle school in Grenada, MS (my hometown) identified a student that brought a loaded handgun to school.  In this case clear communication between students, staff, teachers and administrators lead to disarming the student without incident.  (Because a minor was involved some of the details of the situation is incomplete.  Hopefully, this very serious incident will be rapidly resolved and include measures that will eventually allow the student re-enter the educational system.)  This was a clear demonstration of how communities can entrust school districts to keep their children safe.  Unfortunately, the terrible tragedy at Sandy Hood Elementary School in Newton, CT is the backdrop for this situation.

With this in mind, the Grenada School District (GSD) has worked with local authorities and parents to review their security plans and contingencies.  This process has been played out by school districts all over the country.  It is a clear demonstration that communities and policy makers are working together to keep children safe and focused on learning.  Commonsense and professionalism is where we all should place our trust.

On top of this, some have moved to pushing for armed security, metal detectors and other security measures.  However, arming teachers moves unreasonably to the extreme.    Teachers are trained education professionals and should be focused on teaching not staying on the ready to engage armed threats.  Further, with all that we demand for educators adding more to their plates will likely have negative impact on the education of children.

Additionally, the cost in insurance and added security would likely mean reallocation of funds from pure educational activities.  Here is a question:  Does it make sense to hurt education quality by taking away funds that are already stretched thin? Educating our children is the point.  That is why all stake holders have to be engaged in the conversation.  Parents, families, students, educators, school administrators, law enforcement and government (local, state and federal) have to be shape the conversation for efficient, effect and balanced school security measures.

So, adding armed uniformed off duty police officers for security is a reasonable response.  Yet this situation can go overboard.  Remember schools are not correctional facilities and over doing armed security at schools may change the atmosphere.

We live in an open and free society.  Preserving our way of life truly depends on maintaining our identity in the face of horrific tragedy.  Reason and data driven professional advice should always guide our response(s).

UPDATE (12 December 2012):  A source within the Grenada School District confirmed that GSD did not detect the firearm until after the suspected student brandished the handgun at another student while on a school bus.