Momma, don’t let your babies grow up to be gangsters

It was inevitable: as soon as Gilroy built a second high school,
one would be perceived as better, and people would bicker about
their kids being assigned to the school perceived as worse. It
boggles my mind, though.
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It was inevitable: as soon as Gilroy built a second high school, one would be perceived as better, and people would bicker about their kids being assigned to the school perceived as worse. It boggles my mind, though. 

Consider: at present, every public high school student in Gilroy goes to the horribly overcrowded Gilroy High School. As soon as Christopher High School is completed, the crowding will be alleviated. Yet people are complaining that GHS is too far.

Folks, the school is not moving! The distance to GHS will be exactly the same in two years as it was last year! If you must whine about something, whine about Juanita Contin charging the school district more than $8,000 to draw a line. Any of my Saxon Algebra II students could draw a fairer line in five minutes with a pencil, a compass, and a straightedge. 

It would be interesting to see what would happen if both high schools had open enrollment. It would have to be real open enrollment, not, “We have places for 1,000 at CHS and everyone else goes to GHS.” Would people still send their kids to CHS if it were horribly overcrowded and GHS had plenty of room? Would both schools improve to attract more students and more average daily attendance dollars? It will not happen. Competition is anathema to the bureaucratic mind.    

“When April Chacon kisses her children goodbye and sends them off to school, she worries she may never see them again,” is the opening sentence of the front page Dispatch article on the “Steady Stream of Gang Violence.” Nauseating.

If April is really worried, she should walk her kids to school. April lives just one block south of Rosanna and Eighth, the scene of a recent drive-by gang shooting. I live one block west of that intersection. I have lived here for 20 years. I have raised my kids here. In all that time there has been gang violence, sometimes quiescent, sometimes flaring. Some of my kids’ playmates have grown up to be gang members. Most have not. My kids have not become gang members nor victims of gang violence; the two statements are practically synonymous. 

If April’s kids are not gang members, the probability that they will be victims of gang violence is slim. They are just as likely to be struck by a car. But if they become gang members … aye, there’s the rub. Why do kids join gangs?

Specifically, why did our kids’ playmate, whom I will call Antonio, our neighbor two doors down, become a gang member, while our kids ignored the alleged allure? Human beings are social creatures. We form families and tribes, associations, clubs, churches and nations. We work well together in small groups. When we are in a large group, we subdivide into small groups; an army is split into patrols, a company is split into departments. Our kids were brought up in an intact family. We had high expectations for them: lessons first, then play. They belonged to groups: church, soccer, scouts, South Valley Homeschoolers Association. And in Gilroy, the gangs are Latino. My kids are Anglo. An Anglo has to work hard to get accepted by a gang. Latino kids are recruited. 

Antonio is Latino. His dad is not in the picture. Worst of all, his older siblings are gang members. A kid who wants to be a gang member is a wannabe. Antonio was a gottabe.  That’s why he was wearing an ankle bracelet by the time he was 15. 

April Chacon should not be worrying about random acts of gang violence hurting her children. She should be acting to keep her kids from growing up to be gang members. She cannot change her ethnicity. I have no idea what the rest of her circumstances are. If she is married, she should try to stay married. She should make sure her kids get to school and do their homework. She should take them to church. She should supervise them and know their playmates. None of that will help if she herself is involved with drugs or gangs. Children gravitate toward the social groups they are most comfortable with.   

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