Cross posted from AngryBlackBitch.com.
This bitch lives in St. Louis city and we have a back-to-school-after-summer-break public school attendance problem.
When I first moved back home to St. Louis I was appalled at the low attendance. I don’t have chil’ren and just couldn’t wrap my mind around any of my friends with kids delaying their kids return to class.
If memory serves a bitch, my mother would have camped out for 24 hours in front of school so that we could be the first kids in line on opening day, she was so tired of our shit.
Anyhoo, when I became a mentor to a young woman enrolled in St. Louis public schools a harsh light was cast upon the why behind some of that low attendance.
My mentee spent the entire month of July trying to get her uniform together with no money. Her family had moved three times over the summer and she didn’t have all the forms she needed. And she didn’t have shoes…or money for shoes…or anyone in her world that had money for shoes.
I bought her the first pair of new shoes she had been given since babyhood…and then tried to assist her and her mother through the process of paperwork and uniform vouchers and so on and so on.
My mentee’s mother is in-and-out as far as involvement. Her father was recently released from jail and he’s still trying to settle into some sort of routine. So, my mentee’s supports are her friends in the 'hood and me.
And she’s not alone.
When I read that the St. Louis Public School folks have asked fathers to take their child to school the first day it kind of pissed me off.
Oh, I wasn't pissed off by the value of a father angle…that’s the new “it” solution in black America. My father was an amazing dad (rest his soul)…a lousy husband but a really great father…so I’m the last person to dismiss the benefits of a cool as hell dad.
But really, can’t we just this once acknowledge that a complex situation is complex?
The issues I’ve witnessed require action from the community, not just the reintroduction of a father into the picture. Now is not the time for this Cosby-esque shit!
I guess it is easier to propose more paternal involvement as you toss out some half assed thank you to sistahs raising kids on their own than to address the impact women's pay inequality has on their ability to provide for their children, the role that the lack of investment in the hood has on their ability to proved a safe home for their family or to investigate the many reasons why every mother or father isn’t always the kind of person we want involved in a child's life.
But hot damn, those bureaucrats sure do love the smell of a new initiative in the morning…