Home Opinion Kaleem Caire: Children Need to Learn Respect

Kaleem Caire: Children Need to Learn Respect

Kaleem Caire

I HAVE HAD ENOUGH! Last evening, I sat in a Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education meeting only to listen yet again to a number of young people in middle and high school curse out and demean Madison School Board members in front of an audience of 200 people, and do so to the applause of other adults in the audience. I thought I was in the twilight zone.

While our young people are to be commended for exercising their voices and articulating their ideas and concerns with depth and precision, the power, value and meaning of their words consistently are lost and undermined by their foul, abrasive and derogatory language and demeanor towards Board members who are actually listening to them, even if some Board members might disagree with some of our young people’s points or proposed solutions. I have been vilified and dissed more than many in this community for taking unpopular positions on issues but I have never cursed someone out because of it.

As a father of five, I would never let (or condone) my children, or any other young person (or adult), direct hurtful language like that at me or another person without speaking up and correcting them. To see adults clapping for that behavior tonight turned my stomach inside out. I had to get up and leave, and take the mic to say a few words before I left.

People, what are we thinking and what are we doing? Too many children are cursing out teachers and staff every day in our public schools and we are letting it happen, and making excuses for many children who do it.

And for those who don’t like what I am saying, you can be mad but you can’t call me racist, and you definitely can’t call me crazy. Many of our young people in our public schools are benefiting directly from my years of hard work, advocacy and programs that I personally fought for and led the creation of. To sit there and hear young people who represent a demographic that I have worked and fought very hard for, for more than 30 years, curse out other people who are trying to help them…it broke my heart and made my heart sink into my stomach.

Mothers, fathers, educators and community members, we cannot allow this type of poor behavior to continue unabated. We need to tell our young people that attitudes and behaviors like this WILL NOT BE TOLERATED, PERIOD. It’s not good for our children and their future, and it’s not good for our community and our schools. WE CAN ADVOCATE WITH PASSION, RESPECTFULLY. Onward.

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