Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Pam Adam's Sunday Column in the Journal Star

Ordinarily I don’t read Pam Adams, the black writer for the Journal Star, but when I see anything connected to “schools and expectations” I generally read and clip the article and add it to my “schools” file. In Sunday’s edition of the JS, Ms. Adams insinuates that Terry Knapp and District 150 want to keep black people from succeeding by promoting VO-TECH. She writes about a black kid who tried vocational school but he dropped out because it bored him. Ms. Adams says “As a 15 year old dropout, son of a “white” father who abandoned the family, he switched schools, tried to get into some college course, was accused of plagiarizing a paper on Napoleon, took low wage jobs as a dishwasher and short order cook and is quoted as saying “eventually I went out on the street where I made lifelong friends who have nurtured me, who sanctioned my life and who ultimately provided it with meaning.”

Ms. Adams said this disadvantaged black man became widely known in certain Eastern artistic circles by writing plays about “specific black garbage men, waitresses, hustlers, madmen and high school dropouts and reaches for higher truths about dignity, love, honor, beauty, betrayal, duty and his ancestral past.” He accomplished his fame by by-passing the system. Good for him; count him one out of, say, 100.

Ms. Adams, who long ago identified herself as the leading racist JS columnist, she seems to be on a fast track to keeping the black grade and high school students in District #150 on a “victimization course” who are being offered “vocational” classes because the “system” feels blacks aren’t qualified to seek high ambitions. They can only seek higher ambitions when they are far away from people like Mr. Knapp. Blacks are “victims” of the system because they are from families where white fathers desert their families, and only blacks are forced to take vocational classes (promoted, of course, by Terry Knapp) which they don’t like because all blacks have artistic talents which only show up when blacks get out of this “ham-and-beans-and basketball city.” She probably doesn’t realize that 90% of the players on Peoria High School basketball teams are black and the reverse is true in almost any other sport yet all sports are offered equally to all who qualify by the school and coaches standards.

District #150 students are approximately 40% white in color. These whites are offered classes in “academies” (Dist. #150’s substitute for VO-TECH) which teach lifetime skills. No one is forced to attend any vocational class anywhere in the Peoria area. Mr. Knapp is 100% correct in wanting to expand VO-TECH but has been hindered by a “politically correct” sometimes “elitist” community. No blue collar here, maybe Pekin but not Peoria. We should have expanded the teaching of Vocational Technology teaching years ago. Many of us in this community besides Mr. Knapp have long ago promoted the idea of helping any student learn skills combining both physical and mental capabilities before they graduate or dropout. To excuse blacks for dropping out because the system does not allow them to take advantage of a person’s talent is pure horse manure. Many dropout because they don’t or won’t take advantage of all that is offered in America unlike Arthur Ashe, George Washington Carver, Eric Turner, Dana Davis, the Shipp’s, the Hinton’s, the McDade’s, Delores Turner, Sharon Kherat, the Stafford’s, James Blake and Ward Connerly . (To name a few out of many millions who are successful American citizens of a darker colored skin than mine.)

Ms. Adams need only ask Peoria County officials who are involved in the juvenile court system, the Peoria County Jail, the Pekin prison and the Spoon River Correctional center. The majority of the criminals in these centers DO NOT come from Tazewell County and Fulton County and the great majorities are school dropouts.

Pekin High Schools offers some of the best Vocational training in the state. Perhaps Ed Bradle was correct; Ed said that District #150 offers as much diversity or more than Pekin, but kids just don’t enroll in Peoria. Ms. Adams is surely aware that the majority of correctional cases going thru the Peoria County Criminal Justice system have some connection to the uneducated dropout black community. Does she really believe that most kids who dropout become successful artists? She believes many in Dist. #150 wants VO-TECH for only black students. How arrogant? VO-TECH is offered in schools to ALL students who are college bound or not college bound. She wishes to blame it all on the schools and the community for failing to give poor black kids an opportunity. She will not recognize that often times the teachers and the system are trying to educate a dysfunctional student from a dysfunctional family. She does not mention that this year Dist. #150 has career and family and student problem counselors in the lower grades.

She has been suspicious of the Peoria Police Department and their help in enforcing the truancy laws. She is generally suspicious about anything that might be helpful to minorities.

It is people like Ms. Adams who continue to make many black poor people feel like victims. I know that the majority of the educated black community does not agree with the “victimization drum beat” promoted by Ms. Adams

Sunday, I met a family from China on the tennis courts, the husband with a degree in mechanical hydraulics and working for a local firm. They conveyed to me the opportunities they were enjoying in this great land that is under heavy siege by the ultra liberalists. Their 8 year old son is already in the fourth grade in a Peoria Public School. They are excited about our educational system and could quickly identify those who were born here yet who were failing to take advantage of the opportunities this country offers.

Every day thousands of foreigners try to enter this country, some by any means possible. Most will work at any job offered. Many are becoming success stories same as are all of my black friends and acquaintances. Yet we have a “culture” in this country made up of fourth, fifth, and sixth generations of “oppressed” who have been blinded by the truth and look to blame someone else for their dysfunctions. Ms. Adams, unfortunately for Peoria, is part of this culture that contributes to the problems of this community.

I recommend a book “100 People Who Are Screwing Up America” by Bernard Goldberg. These people are of the “culture” most American citizens believe are causing this country to accelerate into division, socialism and pacifism. The overwhelming majority are of white color. The culture of a person is not recognized by color, race, religion or belief. Culture is who you are and what you represent. (Refer to my archives for my blogs pertaining to “culture”).

Recently, I made DeWayne Bartel’s list of 100 reasons why he wants to live in Peoria like I have for more than forty years. Maybe another reputable newsperson will come up with a list of 100 reasons not to live in Peoria. These reasons could shed more insight into our ongoing problems such as described by Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis in this weeks Observer. Unfortunately, most “politically correct” people fear to “tell it like it is”. Jim and Sheriff McCoy are the type of people I want to read and see in our local news Medias. This community would be better served if more of our leaders were less “politically correct”. It is past time for more meaningful and open dialogues between our elite leaders and grassroots leaders pertaining to the positives and the roadblocks to integration, diversity and inclusion in this community.


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Anonymous said...

Amen! I didn't know it at the time, but the worst day of my life was probably when I passed the bar exam. As a kid, I was constantly told that education, college, graduate school were imperative to be successful, happy and independent. Education is imperative, but what TYPE of education should be catered to the individual. I think I would have been a happier person earlier in life if I had pursued a career that used my natural skills in carpentary instead of suppressing them to pursue law.

Pam Adams needs to learn respect for those of us who work with our hands and actually make something. We have enough cranky, unhappy people crammed into cubicles, breathing re-circulated air forty hours or more a week, shuffling paper.

It isn't about race. It is about encouraging people to pay attention to their God given talents and making the best use of them.

Merle Widmer said...

To the first anonymous, please do not use my blog site as free advertisisng for your company.

Thak You.

To the 2nd anonymous, thank you, we are in agreement. Peoria School Counselors, of which there are too few, counsel kids going on to higher education and the problems kids are having in their young lives. Not enough time is left to counsel kids on alternate directions rather than the push toward more costly eduction only for the kid to find out at some late date, the now adult has to spend more money to go to a Junior College or Vocational Schoolto prepare for the workplace.

For years, I have challenged this community but the elite have mostly held the college line. Adopt-A-Schools and Acadamies reach less than 500 kids in the entire Dist. #150 system. Ask Carol Leach who visits all schools in the area and says the total is less than 1000.

Too bad and now it is late in the game if you have been reading about Workforce Development plea for more semi-skilled and skilled workers.

pollypeoria said...

It's snobbery if you ask me. In this day and age the belief a liberal college education is somehow loftier than vocational education is idiotic. Technology is ever advancing. Those who understand it, build it, and fix it are already making more money than the lawyers.

The racist\snob in this case is Pam Adams

cal skinner said...

My father called the meeting that led to the formation of McHenry County College. As a member of the first board, he fought to make the new community college vocational training friendly. It ended up like a typical junior college...preparing people to go onto a four year school.

What a wasted opportunity.

Merle Widmer said...

Thanks, Cal.

All the current Dist #150 board members appear to support more VO-TECH. The architect planning the new school buildings say plans are to have VO-TECH opportunies in each new school; new schools that could be years off as I'm not sure many in the community think new schools are the answer to our problems, and this year they say they have added shop at Manual. But on my last visit to Manual, they had a shop Academy for several years with relative poor attendance. The guy running the program main interest was to get out of this community and join his wife who had a good job in Bloomington. His staff appeared to be unenergetic and complaining. Hard to have success under those conditions. Plus the principal was weak but he has now been promoted to administration.

A great deal of the problem lies with not enough counselors and counselors counseling kids for college.
I feel like a broken record saying that's OK but why aren't we teaching life skills to all? If a kid isn't headed for college does he think he will be a celebrity? Of course he or she does; they get misled by watching TV especially MTV and too many TV sports. Odds are only about one out of every 100,00 will become a celebrity without a college education or the development of certain skills thru some type of formal training. Better to learn some skills to allow the kid to hold a job!!

I took mechanical drawing in high school. I didn't pursue that field but what I learned helped me in raising a family and holding a job.

The union is probably strong enough here to keep retirees from business without a teaching certificate from teaching VO-TECH classes.

angela said...

Meanwhile... everyone whines while jobs are outsourced to foriegn lands. I'm sure computer programmer salaries are cheaper in India, but I'm starting to wonder if there might be a supply and demand problem occurring in this country. Fewer and fewer people know how to build let alone fix anything in this country.

FYI or any high schooler student out there wanting to make the big money. I just got an estimate to build a garage and re-do my driveway... $36,000. We would try to do it ourselves but my attorney hubby and I are completely clueless...

Merle Widmer said...

Hi Angela,

This community needs your help and all the help we can get to push for more "skills" training from building a garage to raising a kid or keeping a family togheter or prepare for any job of any kind to get started. Unskilled workers can learn from any job they can get and prepare to move up the income ladder!!


Chase Ingersoll said...

I'm going to think about the anonymous comment regarding the worst day of the posters life being the day he passed the bar exam. I look back at the day I got disbarred as one of the most fortunate days of my life.


more later