Why do the kids in New Orleans give up on themselves? Most of the teenagers have no self esteem whatsoever. Each and every one goes to school because state laws say that they must attend school until a certain age.
I recorded the documentary of life at Walter L. Cohen Senior High School, located in New Orleans, Louisiana. I will view that recording many times with hopes of obtaining some inside knowledge as to why they have the mindset that makes them give up on life, when they haven’t even started living.
We all know that peer pressure is so great that parents, teachers, tutors, community leaders, sports figures have no way of making an imprint on these students lives. In the school that, at one time had almost a thousand students attending each year, the documentary said only sixty-six students started their senior year at Cohen. I am sorry to say that I didn’t graduate from Cohen, but my life did work out for the better.
Kids of today can’t do it the way that I did. I left W. L. Cohen and joined the Marine Corps for four years. I am not certain but I don’t think any branch of the military will take an individual today without a high school diploma. Everything is too technical. I did my four years and when I got discharged I found out that I was not trained to do anything. So in the process I joined the Air Force and passed the exam in order to attend the Electronic School in Denver, Colorado, after which I attended the airborne Fire Control Systems School, which was RADAR and Low Altitude Bombing Systems.
Now it comes to the students having leaders. Walter L. Cohen has people that want to lead but these students have been influenced by their peers and their neighborhoods and the gangs that are located there and they think that they have to belong to the gangs to survive. They have grown up with these thoughts and there has been no one to correct their way of thinking. The only way to change that way of thinking is to do it one individual at a time.
The parents have very little influence on these teenagers. In a way they are mad, angry at society and don’t want to change their way of thinking because they will be ostracized by their peers. They are of the frame of mind that tells them that all of their confrontations have to be settled with a gun. That is why the murder rate is so elevated.
What has happened to the parents of old? Someone, about twenty-five years ago or so came up with the idea that it was better to just talk to children and give them “Time-outs” rather than “Tan” some butt. If the child is taught self control and self respect when he or she is small, then it carries over to their teenage years. But parents don’t want to chastise their child and don’t want anyone else doing it. I have made the statement many times that everything started to go downhill when our federal government, in all its wisdom eliminated the Selective Service and draft. That was basically done because all of the fat cats up in their ivory towers did not want their poor little rich sons going into the military. Well we can blame the high murder rate on a less structured life style of today.
In a world where parents can’t or won’t discipline their children, you don’t have that military drill instructor kicking your son’s butt and yelling at him at three or four o’clock in the morning because he had not shaved close enough that morning. Or making him run around a Parade Field, (Grinder, Drill Field, or whatever it is called by the Army, Navy, or Marine Corps) three or four times with a full pack and rifle just to make sure he remembers who is the boss.
You may say, “What does that have to do with raising a boy?” Well it may sound a little like going overboard with training to you but that boy you let go into the service will come out a man with a hell of a lot more control than you can teach him.
On that program about Walter L. Cohen they showed children that wanted to accomplish something while attending school but there was something that was missing, something that they needed and could not find. When you have a school that is in a building the size of the building where Cohen is located and you have are only 66 kids in the 12th grade class and only 32 graduated. That tells you that the school is almost empty.
There were a lot of great teachers at Cohen when I was there. I am not saying that the ones that are there are not great teachers but they don’t have any assistance from the homes of the students. These teachers cannot do it all by themselves. I for one have had children in the Jefferson Parish school system and if that child is absent from school, before twelve o’clock a parent gets a call from that school asking why is the child absent. What is happening in Orleans Parish? Uh?
I was with the Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff’s Office for twenty-one years and ninety percent of the inmates could not fill out a simple form without assistance. If they were sentenced to state time, they have to complete personal information forms prior to being transferred to state custody. These inmates would have to have someone stand beside them and assist them to fill the form out line by line.
I can see where, in some schools the teaching staff is falling down. It seems to me that the teachers are promoting the students just to get rid of them. Teachers should not do that, they are there to instill ambition and make certain the child learns, and not push them on to the next grade, just to keep up with their age group.