Monday, January 12, 2009

Feel Good Everything or
SuperNanny and Penalty Box?

From Charles R. Hoff a piece that could as well apply to Elementary School math programs that fail to teach arithmetic and High School Math programs that fail to teach algebra.

Should the City of Federal Way buy a Performing Arts Center or a “Supernanny” and a “Penalty Box?”

The City seems to be involved in a debate over how to spend taxpayers’ dollars to make this a “better city.” Numerous writings have appeared supporting the idea that a performing arts center, such as the one in Auburn or Burien, is just what the city needs to “become a better city.” Many of these writings tout that a center “will bring many dollars” into the community, presumably from outside of the city. Must be a lot of loose money out there!

In the past the city has “invested” in many community projects including Celebration Park, Camp Kilworth, Knutsen Theatre and most recently the Community Center. All of these projects, I believe, have not been able to support themselves from their current income, and certainly have not been able to repay the invested cost. In addition the County has “invested” in the Aquatics Center. I do not know if it pays for its current operating costs. The community, mostly the “movers and shakers” also raised the funds to build and operate the “EX-3” Teen Center for the Boys and Girls club.

What has been the driving force for these investments, and the proposed Performing Arts Center? Largely the small group of “movers and shakers” who have some concerns about the “appearance” of Federal Way to some of the outsiders and their own personal, and family preferences.

Most of there facilities are recreational in nature. These people, the movers and shakers, have kids, or grandkids, who use the soccer fields and other recreational facilities that have been built by the city, and they attend the arts performances in the Knutsen Theatre.

The “movers and shakers” seem to be overlooking what I believe are two of the most significant reasons why the city cannot seem to attract high wage employers. Both of these have to do with a group of youth that these previous projects have not impacted.

I happened to watch “Supernanny” this week. As usual she was faced with a group of kids who were out of control by any adults. They did what they wanted to when they wanted to. Sound like some of the youth of Federal Way? Just read the police blotter or look at the test scores of our kids, and you will have an idea that we have a group of youth in the city who are “making their own rules” and “living their own lifestyle.” It would seem that there are no limits to what kind of mischief that they can find.

Supernanny took the parents to task for their “laziness;” and developed the Soccer analogy to include the “yellow and red cards” and the “penalty box.” I would like to suggest that this is what our City Council might be looking at to make Federal Way a lighthouse for prospective employers. What if the City were known as a place where behavior was outstanding?

What if every youth, and their parents, knew, by the actions of the school and community, that violations of laws and rules would have a “lifestyle altering” consequence? No more “community service” unless it were conducted in a prison jump suit alongside of the road, No more “deferred sentences” or “adjudications” for violations of laws. To do this one has to have a “penalty box” that is large enough to accommodate the “red cards” for long enough for them to reconsider their actions. In schools if you violate the rules detention altering your social calendar would be assigned such as Saturday starting at 0600. If you violate laws in a school setting let the police handle it. No “extenuating circumstances!” Whatever laws could be used to bring the parents into the penalty box for lack of supervision should also be fully enforced.

Perhaps the Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, could offer us some advice on building a penalty box. Sheriff Joe Arpaio is well known for his housing of criminals in low cost facilities that inmates find less than comfortable. This tends to reinforce the “avoidance” syndrome.

At first the volume of “red cards” might be more than the city could handle in a permanent penalty box. We might want to start this program in the spring to take advantage of some temporary facilities for overflow. Once the program was established, I would predict that volumes would decline rapidly.

Would there be some screaming and hollering? You bet! When consequences are effective, there is “stress” upon the offender, their families and friends.

Think what Federal Way could be like if there was very little youth crime, and the schools were known for their achievement levels throughout the nation. I would bet that employers would be knocking on our doors.

“Federal Way, where all means all” would take on a new meaning. Great community, well educated workforce, work ethic, honesty prevails. Could be a great seller!

by Charles R. Hoff


Anonymous said...

Sounds like you're talking about school already.

If Blago felt Michigan had such a low crime rate, he should rename them schools, instead of shutting them down. Pontiac High School has a certain ring to it.

Blagojevich, a [Michigan] Democrat, is charged with trying to auction the vacant U.S. Senate seat of President-elect Barack Obama, and with pressuring state contractors, private institutions and the state’s largest newspaper for cash or other favors.

Sounds like business as usual.

dan dempsey said...

Blago is Governor of Illinois for the moment.

Anonymous said...

What a shame, he didn't choose Michigan, he'd feel right at home.