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Our Opinion: Saying ‘We Care'

August 16, 2001

There have always been and there will always be troubled young people in our society.

So the fact that we need more community schools in the Imperial Valley is not a sign that our area in particular, or our society in general, is going bad. What it points to is the growth in our Valley combined with earlier intervention by educators and law enforcement officers to get troubled kids and bad influences out of other schools.

Ground was broken this month for the construction of two new community schools in Imperial County. Community schools are for kids who are habitual truants, have been in trouble with the law or in school or have other difficulties that preclude them from going to school elsewhere. Many are on probation and know if they mess up one more time in school or beyond, juvenile hall awaits.

That does not mean we should give up on such young people, and the professionals who work with such kids rarely do. Such educators have to put up with a lot of attitude, and sometimes more, from their students, but many are uniquely dedicated to the community school facet of education. Many deeply care for the kids, and in doing so sometimes make a difference in their lives.

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Rarely are we, in our little forgotten corner of the state, the first one funded for anything in California, so it is nice to see we are the first area to get full state funding for new community schools. One community school will be built in Brawley and the other in El Centro.

Better facilities will provide a better learning environment for the students, and these definitely will be nice places. How nice? The buildings' designs recently won an architecture award. Such dedication to doing things right will demonstrate to the young people at the schools the adults have not given up on them. Subtle gestures like that, combined with the dedicated educational staffs at the schools, could help turn around young lives. Such actions also demonstrate to the staff members that they are appreciated in an environment where pats on the back are few.

The Imperial County Office of Education will not have to pay rent, as it does on its existing schools, after the schools are built. That will mean more money for education just as the ICOE shifts more from attendance and behavior concerns at community schools and focuses more on academics.

All this tells such troubled young people is, "We care." That alone is a powerful message.

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