Monday, February 2, 2009

"They're disappointed in their progress...their possibilities. But they don't know what to do. They don't know how to get out of this situation."

Guys Lit Wire favorite, Walter Dean Myers has a new book Dope Sick due out this month. Here's the description:

Lil J has lived through the layers of pain that are so difficult for inner city youngsters to transcend and has been exposed to an astonishing array of drugs. His path from "brokesick" to "dopesick" leads to a drug deal gone bad and a shot undercover cop. Lil J suddenly finds himself in an abandoned crack house with a bullet wound to the arm. He would do anything to change the last 24 hours. That possibility becomes real when he stumbles into Kelly, who is set up in front of a TV set with remote control, about to provide Lil J the opportunity to assess and confront his own existence and ultimately, a chance to change the direction of his life.

You can download the first three chapters for free at the Adolescent Literacy web site and also read an interview with Myers at Public School Insights. Here's a bit of that:

When I see that 50 percent of African-American kids don't finish high school, that's a crisis of tremendous weight to me. These kids are not finishing high school. They're not getting the core knowledge of how to conduct their lives and how to move on. As far as I'm concerned, from a national point of view as an American, we have to rescue these kids. We have to reverse this. We have to go into these communities and turn this around.

The first thing we have to do is change the norm. When these kids go to school, their norm is depressed. It's been dislocated downward. So they have these low expectations of themselves--not of their abilities, but of what's acceptable. So if a kid gets C's and D's, it's fine. It's okay. Because in his community, C's and D's are the norm. There are many schools in the New York area and New Jersey where the norm for the school is not to graduate high school. We have to change that.

I think Obama, because he doesn't have to be as politically correct as a white president, can approach this. And he has to. He has to. Because these kids are coming through schools… The pictures that I see are not even as good as the dismal figures which are being published.

It's a great interview from someone what has been writing about teens and talking to them and working with them for decades. Here's hoping that some of the tragic circumstances he discusses in the interview will finally change for the better.

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