Davis holds meeting

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 10, 2004

U.S. Rep. Artur Davis hosted a seminar Monday entitled “Save Our Schools” in the Demopolis Civic Center. Area superintendents, educators and elected leaders were on hand for the event.

Davis has noted the recent stabbing deaths of students in Wilcox and Sumter Counties. The congressman was hoping for a dialog between education advocates and community leaders to solve problems such as violence in schools.

“Someone made the observation (at the seminar), that when you see violence in the schools invariably it comes from students who come from violent homes,” Davis said. “When a child comes from a home where a fist is the answer to a dispute, that child brings that mentality into the classroom.

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“The root of the problem is ultimately self esteem. Children curse when they can’t think of anything else to say. They use their fists when they can’t think of any other way to resolve a problem. It’s the inarticulateness of being young and unempowered that we’re dealing with.”

Davis stressed the importance of mentoring, the opportunity for doctors, lawyers and other professionals to help students experience a working environment.

“In Eutaw, Alabama, you can have young black lawyers; in York, you can have black doctors. Let them see that. It is the process of “getting into their lives and spending enough time in their place and their zone that they can talk to you. Kids don’t have anybody to talk to.”

As a community, adults need to talk to young people about the realities of life and economics, he added.

One educator at the seminar asked Davis how you could get parents to care more than just dropping their kids off and expecting schools to raise them.

The congressman said he would love to see a counseling program for young parents. “We have a DHR (Department of Human Resources) system that identifies problem households,” he said. “We define a problem as something that has made it to a court file. That’s a way to find a problem.”

There are a lot of simmering problems in families that don’t get reported, he said. A counseling program for parents under 22 could bring young women in and talk to them about what it means to be a mother.

“Unfortunately, a lot of young women think, ‘Why, I’m a mother now so that means I’m supposed to know everything so I can’t act as if I don’t.’ It’s not easy raising kids. We’ve got to equip our parents with better tools and answer questions they don’t know to ask.

“The challenge is again 8 to 3 the foundation is laid, then between 3:30 and 11:30 at night it’s torn down. We have to look at possibly extending the school day. We have to look a voluntary programs after school … to try to fill that gap with some constructive learning.”