Now that the riots in Baltimore have died down, there isn’t sufficient drama for the media to stick around so it has faded into the woodwork like most of our problems. When it stops being sexy, we lose interest. Before the Baltimore phenomenon gets too stale, I wanted to throw two ideas out on the table for opinions and debate.
Mandatory High School Graduation
The minimum age at which a child can drop out of school varies state to state. We say as a society that we want our youth to be prepared for life yet we give them the option to not even finish high school (or secondary school as it is sometimes called). I suggest getting rid of the age based limits and make the mandatory requirement grade based. This means every student in the United States must complete grade 12 and receive a high school diploma. Until that time, they will be considered truant if they don’t attend and their parents will be liable. This encourages kids to stay off the street and guarantees a minimum level of preparedness for employment if college is not pursued.
Since the notion of a free college education is no more (both my parents had one), I can’t suggest a mandatory 16 years of education. It is just not practical. Still, better subsidization of college and vocational programs must be pursued.
In Baltimore we’ve got kids with no prospects and nothing to keep them engaged. Education is the antidote to the idle mind.
If Cops Are in a War Zone, Treat Them Like the Military
There has been great disturbance around the militarization of the police in several urban areas. While I understand this, I think the problem is more subtle than the ostentatious armored vehicles. In your most troubled urban areas, police are operating in a domestic war zone. They don’t know from suspect to suspect if they will be fired upon. The stress of this kind of service must be profound.
While we are far from perfect at it, we try to limit the length of time of a single deployment of a soldier in the field. I suggest we start doing the same thing with police in high crime areas. They should be rotated in and out. Perhaps assign them to different neighborhoods every six months. One argument against this would be that it prevents a particular cop from bonding with the community he protects, but let’s be honest. That bonding is not happening now. What we have are burned out cops facing a daily challenge few of us would sign up for. Are there bad cops? Sure there are. However, I suspect there are many well-intentioned cops who have lost their way from sustained exposure to a sick environment. Perhaps if we find a way to give them a break, we can also preserve their sense of humanity and see more humane treatment of suspects as a result?
What do you think? The bar is open.