The Issue of Violence Plaguing the PSJA School District...What it boils down to
Growing up in the Tri-City area, a child learns one of life's harshest realities early on. The word fair is a concept reserved for those that count themselves among the more affluent members of the community. It is a keen understanding that to have is to be treated with respect, and to have not is something they tend to push further and further towards the edge of long forgotten, or never really went anywhere with anything in the first place. Our community is not mutually exclusive from those around it, but the politics of the situation seems to lend itself a little more to the problem.
In an article by James Osbourne in today's issue of The Monitor titled, "Eyebrows rise after mayor's son nets contract", Osbourne tackles the issue of questionable contracts being awarded to a son of a friend's friend. The same ol' twice removed scenario of business that has become the accepted norm in this community, but is a taste that is beginning to fall flat in places like La Joya, or Edinburg. Hector X. Palacios, owner of HXP Counseling and Consultant Services, was awarded a one year contract with the district in the amount of $93,000.00 effective at August 15th's PSJA school board meeting. What makes this interesting, is as the report stated, Hector X. Palacios is the son of the City of Pharr mayor, Leo "Polo" Palacios. What he's being asked to provide the district is detailed in the article, with the overall sentiment being that Mr. Palacios will provide a thirty hour anger management course for those students who are deemed "at risk" by the school district. Mr. Palacios is quoted in the article as saying, "In these classes, the focus is more on intervening for kids who are at risk to join gangs. I'll help them think consequentially and to empathize..Like I tell everyone, it's just a piece of the pie. It doesn't guarantee an end to violence in the schools."
An interesting choice of words, and no doubt will garner the approval of the many around him who have hired him in the first place. But for those of us who grew up knowing the exact impact violence has had on our school district, words like these echo the tired stale sentiment of not knowing what to do, but trying in vain to figure it out once they get there. That's fine if the school board wants to talk athletic uniforms, and what next week's school cafeteria lunches will consist of. When it is dealing with children that far exceed a solution that is based upon telling them what the consequences of their actions are, or having a security camera that will somehow magically instill the fear that they will get caught, there is not the vaguest idea what the problem is. Much less an honest offering of real solutions that will last. Real solutions that will change the amount of violence that occurs in our schools. Real solutions that will profoundly affect these children in a more positive light, so that they themselves can serve as positive role models in the community. This is what it boils down to, positive reinforcement. It is perhaps the naivest of concepts, given the cynical environment our children are being raised in. But it is at the root of what is affecting these children in the first place. To be "at risk" doesn't mean you've been singled out in the first grade and your adminstrators are going on a hunch that you just won't cut it in a society you're so desperately rebelling against. "At risk" means you've had your share of troubles, and if we don't scare the living wits out of you, you're bound to do much worse. Which consequently affects who? Who's life is inevitably tarnished by the violence and accusations of incompetence? Not the children we really need to be caring about in the first place. It tarnishes the reputation of a school board that would much rather bandage a downward spirraling situation by paying someone close to a six figure contract on the slightest hope that if even one child is reached, something has been accomplished. Indeed, hope in a magic bottle when the truth of the matter is, the money may have been better spent on hiring a district school psychologist who may be more qualified, and could perhaps offer better solutions to what a $93,000.00 a year contract and school surveillance cameras could offer. Caring. A sentiment that is obviously not at the level the local school board, and those surrounding it, are willing to reach. Or pay for.