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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Do Kids Deserve a Second Chance?

Well the term “superbowl” took on a whole new meaning for me, as I got hit with a stomach virus in the second half, but it did give me the opportunity to watch some daytime television yesterday.  I ended up watching for NYC Mayor Ed Koch’s funeral.   I have to say, I ended up smiling and crying.  He was truly a character, a beloved family man, consummate politician and visionary.  There is no doubt that he has had an impact on the city that he loved. 

As President Clinton read from some of the letters that Koch had sent him during his presidency, one in particular, struck a chord.  Ed Koch believed that all children deserved a second chance.  A real second chance.  He wanted young people who had gotten in trouble to have the chance to start fresh.  Clinton quoted “…they should be given a chance to serve in AmeriCorps, or do something else, and then, if they got their GED and they stayed off drugs, their records should be sealed and their convictions should be purged. So that if ever they were asked again in life did they have a criminal conviction, they honestly could say no.”  His proposal was simple, but included programs, training, treatment and educational opportunities.  After five years with no further trouble, they would receive executive pardons and have their records expunged.

Get Kids Thinking
Of course this simple proposal seems to have many complex issues.  And of course, it would make a great SCAN session, writing prompt, or critical thinking exercise.  What do your students think?   Should young people be given a second chance?  On a large scale – should young people who have been arrested for nonviolent crimes be given a second chance?  What about on a small scale:  do we give them a second chance in school?  Is there a way to help students start over?  Do children’s reputations follow them from grade to grade, teacher to teacher?  How do we let students redeem themselves?  Should students be given the chance to redeem themselves academically?  Can they start over?  

Get them thinking, researching and writing.  What are the perspectives?  Issues?  Solutions?

What's your perspective?

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