Our schools receive notice every day of students suffering intense family/legal/medical crises, including drug arrests, assault charges, suicide, self-mutilation, parental/sexual abuse, teen pregnancies, etc. Though our students outperform most of Texas in terms of academics, fine arts, athletics, and other areas, these life crises touch many of our own. What is the cause? I believe our country’s moral climate is rapidly deteriorating, and many students don’t know where or from Whom real HOPE comes. Our schools and the greater community cannot remain neutral in the culture wars raging around us. Pearland has shown potential to be that “shining city on a hill” rescuing children from despair. Such work is not done in isolation.
The Maginot Line was built by France in the 1930s to protect against a resurgent German military. Trench warfare dominated World War I; thus, the idea was to build an impressive physical boundary against aggression. The long and expensive project consisted of concrete fortifications, obstacles, troops, and weapons. Unfortunately, neutral Belgium next door did not participate. So when Hitler sought to invade France in 1940, the Nazis simply sidestepped around the Maginot Line and invaded France through “neutral” Belgium. Evil found a way, using the ineffective neutrality of a neighboring country. The magnificent Maginot Line was an isolated and ineffective anachronism.
This is a warning for today. The American schools of the 21st century cannot cope, by themselves, with the onslaught of family/youth problems now plaguing our culture. Likewise, community civic organizations, churches, and individuals can’t succeed in isolation nor declare themselves “neutral.” So last school year, our community began meeting together under a “United for Kids” banner. About 50 to 60 of us meet once a month. You are invited.
Some of the participants include the Brazoria County Alliance for Children, the YMCA, United Way, Women in Leadership Society, local churches, Chamber of Commerce, Community Assistance Provider, Goodwill, Kids Hope USA, Pearland ISD administrators, PTAs, Pearland Neighborhood Association, Counseling Connections for Change, political party clubs, Pearland Police Department, city and county administrators/officials, Young Life, Adult Reading Center, Christian Helping Hands, Forgotten Angels, our local constable, H-E-B, Lion’s Club, Rotary Club, etc. The list goes on.
Members of that group reached out with resources when a family’s home burned down and when another’s became homeless. Others needing emergency medical care were given access and funds overnight. We’ve provided gifts at Christmas to 400 needy families in 2013 and again in 2014. At each meeting, we hear presentations on services provided by community organizations so we know where to turn when kids or families are in need. At our most recent meeting, Women in Leadership and Brazoria County Alliance for Children spoke about helping single moms and abused kids. Then Pastor Hartwell from the Cross Roads Community Church in Pearland gave a detailed presentation on their own large and growing tutorial program (called #iCan) hosted at his church on Wednesday nights. This program reaches out to students at four of our Pearland ISD schools and is designed to give kids the skills, confidence, and encouragement needed to pass state mandated STAAR tests — and to face the daunting challenges of this world.
Allow me another World War II analogy. The tiny village of Le Chambon in southern France came under Nazi occupation in 1940. But under the leadership of local pastors, public school officials, and a private school principal, villagers hid and fed 5,000 Jews and other refugees right under the nose of Nazi evil. The schools grew and thrived. Small church groups met, prayed, and provided food. Sacrifices were made. Lives were saved. A little way down the road, another village called Le Mazet . . . did nothing. The distance between these two villages makes all the difference — then and now. . . .
In today’s culture, many children despair. They place their hopes in harmful and misguided attempts to escape their circumstances. An ancient book provides the ultimate answer: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him.” When we work together to save children from despair, surely His blessing is present. Lives are saved. Sacrifices are made. Hope replaces despair.
The next meeting of “United for Kids” will be on April 23, 8:30 a.m., at the Education Support Center, 1928 N. Main in Pearland. Hope to see you then. If you would like to attend, please contact Director of Communications Kim Hocott at firstname.lastname@example.org.