A Real Tutor/Mentor Program

The alarming rate of suspensions in the Baltimore City schools as reported in the media underscores the need to take action for solving the discipline problems in the schools.
A prime piece of the long term solution to the crime problem in Baltimore City necessitates public schools to provide a more meaningful education for its students.

As a teacher myself, the best way I know how to do that calls for an effective and expanded tutoring/mentoring program. The program I am proposing, the TUTORING/MENTORING (T/M) PROGRAM, does not require any money for implementation because it’s based on VOLUNTEERISM.

The T/M Program – its basic tenet
My T/M program gets down to the brass tacks. Its goal is to provide each student in Baltimore City with a responsible surrogate parent otherwise known as the tutor or mentor), a tutor/mentor who will stay with the student from pre-k through the completion of an academic or vocational program that leads to gainful employment. The tutor/mentor could enlist the help of other individuals for building and expanding this support system for the student.

The T/M Program – Getting started
The T/M program calls for convening a series of conferences with every leader in every church, synagogue, and mosque throughout the state of Maryland. The agenda for these meetings consists of two key words – MOTIVATION and INSPIRATION. The program should be of such a nature that will motivate and inspire the leaders to return to their places of worship to make rousing appeals to their members to volunteer to serve as the tutors/mentors. Similar conferences would be conducted with representatives and personalities from business, media (radio, TV, newspaper, magazines), sports, and entertainment fields. The fact that the T/M program is based on volunteerism eliminates any cost to taxpayers.

This T/M program will provide each student with a sense of stability, continuity, and love – fundamental ingredients for guiding students on a path of success from pre-K through the completion of a program leading to gainful employment. Having well known figures as tutors/mentors is not really relevant. What is germane is recruiting volunteers who are ready, willing and able to make a big and meaningful difference in the lives of these students.

I am well aware of programs that do engage tutors, but they are not as far reaching as the one I am putting forth. My program is designed to provide an opportunity for every student in Baltimore City to have a tutor/mentor who will give the student committed and dedicated support from pre-k thru grade 12.

I believe there are thousands of citizens who would love to make a voluntary commitment to help students in Baltimore City get on the success track of life. The T/M program provides the tutors/mentors – the good samaritans – with memorable and spiritual experiences as they witness the positive strides the students will be able to take because of the help, guidance, sensitivity, and concern they are receiving.

The program can work. When the various pieces of the plan come together, the product will be a rewarding and gratifying plan of action for students and tutors/mentors alike.

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Call for an ER (Education Revolution)

Here’s a reality check. Governor Hogan’s executive order to start schools in Maryland after Labor Day has sparked controversy. I venture to say that the number of days schools are open should not be of critical importance. Rather, what should be the crucial concern is this – are the needs of the students being met on the days when schools are open.

I submit that our present system of public education is not working. Students in the public schools are victims of what I call “classroom prison-like education.” Students enrolled in the academic program are confined approximately 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, 10 months a year to a setting of classroom walls within a school building. Couple this with the teachers who are confronted with the daunting challenge of educating and entertaining their students 6 or 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, 10 months a year. To deliver dynamite lessons consistently and continuously is a Herculean task. So…is it hard to understand why students could easily become bored and fed up in the classroom?

What we need is an Education Revolution. Its main thrust occurs in grades 9 thru 12, but its basic framework can start with grade 1. The ER calls for the writing of a new curriculum that reflects the formation of a partnership between the school subject areas and real life world experiences. It calls for students to get out of the classroom and go into the real world of life. It calls for all tracks of education, not just the vocational path, to embrace the concept that learning has to come to life, learning has to be made practical. It calls for a new teaching methodology which allows students to participate in real life experiences.

For example, the ER (educational revolution) in the language arts reading and writing division entails students stepping into places where the mastery of English skills is essential such as TV and radio stations, magazine and newspaper facilities, etc. with students meeting the people who work in these places, and students actually performing various jobs (level of difficulty and complexity of tasks increase with each grade level). For a TV news program, the people on and off camera – the news anchor, producer, assignment editor, reporter, etc. join forces with the teacher in helping students grasp the English skills utilized in making the program relevant to the viewers.
The partners in education are the students, teachers, and real life mentors or facilitators. All 3 parties are actively engaged in the entire learning process including the writing of the goals and objectives, the activities for concepts and content to be learned, and the evaluation segment. The facilitators are not just bystanders offering rewards for good behavior. Rather they become active participants in designing curriculum which builds a framework of education that is meaningful and relevant to today’s youth. The 3 party team is really working together to make learning applicable, meaningful and FUN. The Educational Revolution in the public school system needs to start now.

Ralph Jaffe
Teacher
Baltimore

When will the real truth be told?

Reading the article, “2 killed, 4 wounded in shooting outside store,” 12-1-16 made me really mad. The area in which the gunman struck, Duvall avenue and Garrison Boulevard is an area in which I lived many years ago. To see what has happened in this neighborhood as well as many other localities in Baltimore City simply makes me fed up. I am fed up because the Baltimore City phony, liberal, career politicians are in large part responsible for the suffering of so many citizens living in Baltimore City.

What makes me angrier is the liberal bias of the Baltimore Sun editorial board who continue to defend the failed programs of the phony, liberal politicians including the mayor and members of the Baltimore City Council over the last 40 years.

There is no defense for the tragic agony that the citizens of Baltimore City are experiencing. The comments of police spokesman, T. J. Smith only added more fuel to the fury I’m feeling when he called on families to prevent the ‘ridiculous violence’ saying they are going to have to continue putting up more balloons, throwing more hashtags on social media, and then repeating it all over again…..we’re dealing with people we’re familiar with and we know the streets are familiar with.” What disturbing and distressing comments. Dah…. Commissioner Davis and PIO (Public Information Officer) Smith – do you ever think about increasing the number of foot patrols in these dangerous neighborhoods to enable them to develop a real rapport with the people they are supposed to protect? Has Commissioner Davis thought about telling the truth and admit they are at least 500 officers short. His response to Councilwoman Rikki Spector’s assault, that the department has quadrupled its number of robbery detectives (Councilwoman assaulted, robbed by two teenagers,” 12-3-16 is not enough to ease people’s minds regarding the rapid climb of high crime. Commissioner Davis just does not get it.

As for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, how can she justify taking away 300 positions in the Baltimore City police department in order to make the budget look better. And, how can she ignore the disastrous deterioration of the Baltimore City public school system ( just look at the 8000 suspensions in Baltimore City).

Isn’t there anyone who wants to tell the truth about the real solutions for the crime problem, both short term – the addition of at least 500 police officers plus the restoration of the 300 removed by Mayor Rawlings-Blake, and long term – responsible, effective parents or surrogates for children in Baltimore City.

As long as we have a morally bankrupt city government and a media with blurred vision, there is little reason for hope in the future. When will the real truth be told?

Ralph Jaffe
Teacher
Baltimore

Somebody does care

My attention was riveted on the article on the editorial page, “What about murders?” 9-28-16. The writer, Alex Klosek, asserts the Baltimore Sun has fallen short in its coverage of the atrocities taking place in Baltimore City. He also points out the lack of outrage expressed by the various city leaders over the violence occurring every day in Baltimore City. He states that it seems like nobody cares.

Well…. I want him to know that not only do I care, but I’m also trying to do something about this deplorable situation of crime in Baltimore City. About one month ago, I asked Governor Hogan to call out the National Guard into Baltimore City for a 3 week period so as to bring relief to the people who are suffering. Because the phony career politicians such as Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake and President of the Baltimore City Council Jack Young refuse to publicly acknowledge the shortage of police officers and take action to correct this state of affairs, the killings and suffering continue to prevail.

While Governor Hogan is aware of my request, his obstinacy with regard to acting on it, is cause for his joining the ranks of the other recalcitrant politicians who are doing a tremendous disservice to their constituents.

Hence, my students have now embarked on a grass roots telephone campaign to Governor Hogan’s office letting him know he is shirking his responsibilities to the citizens of Baltimore City by allowing these appalling conditions to go on.

I urge Mr. Klosek as well as all of the readers of the Baltimore Sun to make a call to the Governor. Maybe we can wake up the Governor to do what is right.

Ralph Jaffe
Teacher
Baltimore

Leadership should be faulted

Lt. Col. Melvin Russell’s comments about police officers (“Civility in civil servants,” 8-19-16) whereby he said that 15% are model officers, 15% are problems, and the rest can bend either way with the wind, strikes a discordant chord with me. From his remarks, one might conclude that 85% of the officers are viewed as problematic or mediocre. But we might also conclude that, by virtue of his title, he is probably one of the leaders of his police organization, and thus, he must bear responsibility for failure to properly train his officers.

Isn’t it reasonable to presume that problems in the police department, in large part are the fault of its leadership. Over the last 8 or 10 years, Baltimore City has had 7 different police commissioners – commissioners who have been appointed by a bunch of career politicians who have also failed the citizens of Baltimore. But more importantly, where is the stability and continuity in the leadership in the Baltimore Police Department? The answer is there is no stability nor continuity. Any organization is only as good as its leadership. If police officers have been condemned for lacking sensitivity to African Americans, perhaps the leaders bear a major responsibility for this “messy” situation.

The DOJ cited various statistics to validate the vindictive behavior of certain police officers, such as 10,163 of those arrested between November 2010 and July 2015 not warranting prosecution. However, shouldn’t we ask what the total number of arrests were for that 5 year period of time. Additionally, what was the basis for asserting the arrests were not justified. Mike McCormick, a former coach of the Baltimore Colts and a Hall of Famer, once said that statistics are like prostitutes – they will do anything you want them to do for you. What’s more, the credibility of the DOJ should be questioned. Didn’t the Attorney General, Mrs. Loretta Lynch and the Director of the FBI refuse to indict Mrs. Clinton for lying under oath and failing to maintain the security and safety of the American people?

When rookie police officers begin their careers receiving a starting salary of approximately $53,000, putting their lives on the line only to get cheap shots hurled at them, prosecuted and persecuted by a bias media, bias prosecutors, and gutless politicians, how can you expect to get dedicated officers to remain on the force. I will voice my statistic – 93% of the people in blue are courageous individuals for whom we should be grateful.

Ralph Jaffe
Teacher
Baltimore