Teen and Adult Values

Posted in: NAP- Neighborhood Alliance of Pawtucket
  • Stock
  • bigallan
  • Respected Neighbor
  • USA
  • 221 Posts
  • Respect-O-Meter: Respected Neighbor

Pawtucket Times has it right for today and yesterday


Helping teens to survive E-mail

on 10-12-2008 21:06  



LINCOLN - Why would a man in his mid-70s choose to write a book entitled "Teen Survival Guide: Three Keys to Winning in Today's Society - Respect, Responsibility and Resolve?"

John O. Tate, a longtime town resident, offered a lengthy yet fascinating answer to that query.
"In June 2002, I read an article about my alma mater, Hope High, and it stated a majority of students there couldn't read or write, or do simple math," stated Tate, who's 76 but doesn't look it, and still acts as president of Andor Engineering Corp., located a virtual stone's throw from Route 116. "I was thinking it was such a pity that these kids would be destined to be destitute or in prison because they weren't being educated properly.
"That story got me upset," he added. "That's when I started writing letters to public officials, principals, presidents of universities, etc. I got virtually no responses. What really concerned me, as I waited and waited, was their lack of curiosity of how I would fix the problem. So I started gathering information during business trips, and - when I made one to Switzerland - I talked to other business people, neighbors and others. I asked them to explain the Swiss educational system to me.
"I was amazed when they told me they don't have any of the problems we do. The fact is, a teacher there would be prosecuted if a student failed to learn. The philosophy there: If a youngster didn't pass, the teacher had failed to instruct properly. I found that fascinating.
"The other reason I chose to write the book? I was gravely concerned about our national security. In order to have a government of the people, by the people and for the people, it's necessary for them to be able to read and write English, and do simple math, to properly evaluate issues concerning our nation. For example, on Dec. 7, 1941, the United States was attacked, and -- on Dec. 8 -- we had housewives take off their kitchen aprons to wear shop aprons. Overnight, they learned how to read military blueprints, take measurements for military crafts, learn how to operate machinery and weld. At the Providence shipyard, these women were producing one liberty ship a week.
"Now the majority of students graduating from high school are doing so without knowing how to read or write, and it poses several problems to society."
In his 136-page paperback book, which he hopes will find its way into the curriculum of every junior high and high school in America (with help from corporate sponsors), he addresses those problems in 21 easy-to-read chapters, nine on respect for everyone from the teen-ager himself to family and police; nine on responsibility (civic, educational, work, social and legal, including self-assessment); and three concerning resolve (what it means, with a final message).
There's got to be something special to his book, as R.I. Supreme Court Justice Frank J. Williams endorsed it, stating, "John O. Tate has written a powerful survival manual -- not only for teen-agers, but for all citizens. Focusing on three core principals -- respect, responsibility and resolve -- he provides a clear and compelling flight plan for achieving personal success under any odds."

Amazing thing about Tate? He never attended college.
Still, he insists he's qualified to speak to today's teen-agers, especially those who grew up in the inner-city. Here's why: Tate was raised in what he called a "tough" South Providence neighborhood during the Great Depression, and -- as the son of poor immigrants -- worked odd jobs to help provide for his family. He claimed he had a consummate disciplinarian in his father, who often aided his studies.
"He informed me there was another life on the other side of the tracks, and that -- if I stayed on the straight and narrow -- I could succeed," Tate offered
Fact is, he did. At age 17, he developed his own business -- "John Tate: Cattle Dealer." He would travel to Vermont, buy dairy cattle and transport them to his home state. He sold them to dairy farmers, took beef cattle in trade and sold those to slaughter houses.
During the Korean War, he was drafted into the U.S. Army, and eventually earned the rank of Second Lieutenant in the infantry. By age 27, he had become vice-president of one of the oldest plastics companies in the nation, and -- two years later -- started his own electronics company, which later expanded into England, France, Germany and Switzerland.
Tate declined to admit he was a millionaire, but said he's had tremendous success as an inventor of electronic components now in use in the aerospace, military and medical computer fields. He also maintains dozens of patents on such products.
"Throughout my early life -- as a teen-ager and into my 20s and 30s -- I studied engineering, law and accounting at my kitchen table," he said. "I'm a self-made man, and proud of it. That's why I want to help these kids. Let's put it this way: A fair number of my customers are PhD.'s, and they have never known that I do not have a formal degree, yet they call upon me to be a problem solver. For years now, I've sat down with those Ph.D.'s, listened to them and discussed their technical problems. They have asked me to  offer solutions.
"I'm still dealing with engineers, physicists, mathemeticians and Ph.D.s, and you can't fool those people," he added. "That's why I feel I'm credible. I have a message, a solution, to bettering our educational system and motivating youths, and I have no doubt it will work.
"The book is for the kids to learn how to better function in society by having those three values. I think the schools are failing to motivate students. Many of them come out of one-parent homes, and they don't have a father or mother who act as mentors, to motivate and guide like my father did. I think the problem starts in the home with a lack of discipline and motivation, then it continues into the classroom because the teacher can't do the job of the parents.
"The net result is a lot of the teachers are demotivated, threatened by a student who thinks he or she can get away with bloody murder. To solve the problem, a root-cause analysis needs to be made, taking into consideration poverty, poor health, lack of parental motivation and guidance and peer influences. Failure to address these problems results in a nationwide academic epidemic, which places our national security at risk."

Tate, who for two years spent weekends composing it, referred to his book as an overview as to how teen-agers could become stalwarts in society, whether or not they attend college.
"I intend to go to the schools, take one chapter and break it down for them in a single session," noted the father of five and grandfather to four. "I didn't want it to be so thick that it would turn off the kids. I just provided the basics so, once they read the information, they can recognize it for what it is, and apply such information to their own situations."
On page 134, Tate delivered this thought: "It is up to you to stop the downward slide into despair and poverty. How can you be part of the ‘Recovery Generation?' First, stay in school and learn all you can. Realize that education is key to your future ability to earn money. Next, think about what you want to do to earn money. Through internships or apprenticeships, expose yourself as early as possible to careers that you think you may want to pursue. When you combine formal education with real-life experience, you will be taking a huge step toward lifelong financial independence."
As for the last, he asked students to claimed: "Establish your flight plan, make course corrections as necessary, and avoid anyone or anything that will take you off course. By demonstrating respect, responsibility and resolve in your teen years, you will set the course for a life of peace, freedom and prosperity."
Tate claimed he already has received a few phone calls from media around the country, including one from California. Likewise, he said his publisher -- AuthorHouse of Bloomington, Ind. -- has drawn a query from the television show "Oprah." He hopes an appearance on a broadcast will come to fruition.
"What I want eventually is to get all the heads of universities and colleges in Rhode Island -- and heads of public corporations, including school officials and every politician at the State House -- into one room," he said. "In one hour, I'll give them the problem and solution.
"I won't reveal that solution until I'm there speaking to them," he added with a smile. "If they're responsible, sincere individuals, they will take that information and make it reality. I want them to run with it."

  • Avatar
  • nap
  • Respected Neighbor
  • Pawtucket, RI
  • 3152 Posts
  • Respect-O-Meter: Respected Neighbor


Mapping Their Futures: Kids Foster School-Community Connections

Students at the Y-PLAN project create bonds through grassroots city planning.

by Sara Bernard

Print Forward Share Comments(0) Comment RSS

On a sunny Saturday morning in the San Francisco Bay Area, two groups of high school juniors from nearby Emeryville and Richmond step from a school bus to check out an underused public space along the Berkeley waterfront -- a running path laid out on a landfill. The morning reconnaissance is part of Y-PLAN (Youth -- Plan, Learn, Act, Now), a city planning program run by the University of California at Berkeley's Center for Cities & Schools. As traffic barrels along the nearby freeway, students glance around curiously. They are new to this patch of land, even though it's relatively close to where many of them live.

Putting Schools on the Map Slide Show

AUDIO SLIDE SHOW: Putting Schools on the Map

Students in the Youth-Learn Plan Act Now (Y-PLAN) program learn about city planning -- and feel empowered to improve their cities

Produced by Sara Bernard.

To help the two groups of students get to know one another, Y-PLAN coordinators ask them to give their names as well as something they appreciate about their own neighborhoods. A few mention the freshness of living by the water; others refer to the ability to walk to a grocery store or local basketball court. One young woman, toeing the ground, shrugs her shoulders and mumbles that she can't think of anything she likes about the gritty section of Richmond where she lives. "I don't feel safe there," she says. Others nod knowingly.

For inner-city kids who've grown up with poverty and crime, this sentiment is understandable -- and not unusual. Because the idea of neighborhood has as many negatives as positives, many Y-PLAN students admit to approaching their local project assignments with initial skepticism. But after twelve weeks of working in teams with UC Berkeley mentors to gather a big-picture view of urban planning, including conducting surveys and site research, crafting proposals for two community centers in their respective neighborhoods, and presenting their ideas to a panel of urban-planning professionals, Y-PLAN participants had a new sense of possibilities.

"Y-PLAN changed my perspective," says Julio Arauz, a student at Richmond's John F. Kennedy High School. "It's not just the negative aspect you have to look at. You have to look at the potential -- the bright side of things."

Through the knowledge that they, too, can affect their communities, Y-PLAN students came to some of the same conclusions as the program's founders: Young people have valuable ideas to bring to the city planning table, and educational revitalization can be a catalyst for community revitalization -- and vice versa.

Project: Transformation

Now entering its tenth year, Y-PLAN is "the heart and heartbeat of the Center for Cities & Schools," says Deborah McKoy, creator of Y-PLAN and the center's founder and executive director. Winner of numerous awards from such groups as the Architectural Foundation of San Francisco and the California Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, Y-PLAN is held every spring for twelve weeks, usually in conjunction with ninth-, tenth-, or eleventh-grade social studies or history classes in hard-pressed East Bay communities. Graduate and undergraduate students in urban planning at UC Berkeley lead a rigorous project-learning curriculum; through initial brainstorming sessions to design sessions to formal presentations for city officials, high school students become stakeholders in the city planning process.

"After they critically analyze the places they are in," says Center for Cities & Schools program manager Ariel Bierbaum, "they learn the process by which those places get transformed -- and their role in that change process."

Past Y-PLAN projects include the redesign of the historic West Oakland train station and a neglected Oakland minipark. This spring, students at Emeryville's Emery Secondary School and in John F. Kennedy High School's Architecture, Construction, and Engineering Technology (ACET) Academy developed recommendations for two projects: a wellness center located in an unused part of the Emeryville school building (designed to serve as a youth and family destination for health and recreational services) and the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center and Park, a cornerstone of an ongoing revitalization of Richmond's Nystrom neighborhood.

For city planners and administrators who'd been given the task of developing youth programming for the centers, Y-PLAN offered an opportunity to hear from the kind of young people who would be served by centers like these.

Many of the projects Y-PLAN students work on are so large in scale that any effect of the students' input may not be immediately obvious -- no train station or community center can be redesigned in a matter of months. Although student feedback has sometimes influenced city planning decisions, it doesn't necessarily sway them. Still, the overall impact the program has on both the student and professional perspective appears to be significant.

"Y-PLAN makes folks who deal with cities and urban centers aware of the incredible importance and value of public schools," says Deborah McKoy. "Urban public schools are often seen as 'the problem,' when in fact what I think we learn from Y-PLAN is how much a part of the solution they are."

The Finals

At the two schools' final presentations for city administrators, council members, engineers, and architects, students showcased scale drawings and three-dimensional models of each building, backed up by explanatory posters and Microsoft PowerPoint slides with detailed proposals for how the buildings might best be used. Richmond students emphasized the necessity for a tight security staff, a public gun drop-off, and social services such as driver's education, job training, a walking path, and a child-care center. They also proposed replacing a dilapidated playground with a garden or even a café to draw in more "customers."

Emery students presented their wellness center as a place to do homework, make art, use computers, and see counselors. To transform what they described as "a very empty and very dark" space, they incorporated in their design plants, murals, and large windows. They also had a variety of propositions for unused public spaces nearby that could be converted into parks.

Some site aspects students referred to, such as a lack of trash cans or a prevalence of broken gates, "frankly had me squirming," says Richmond city manager Bill Lindsay. "Why aren't we doing this? These ideas are simple and practical and can happen right away." Because budgets are chronically tight, many of the larger, more hopeful suggestions had little chance of coming to fruition in the near term, but the presentations nevertheless had a revelatory and empowering effect.

"Seeing what they want for themselves has been an honor," says Emery participating teacher Madenh Hassan.

"Y-PLAN is a good opportunity for us, because we can actually speak our minds," says self-assured Emery student Chantell Brown. She hopes the Emeryville center will be, among other things, a safe place where young people can go after school -- something teens in low-income, high-crime communities desperately need. She was eager to tell developers, educators, and city administrators "what the 'real' is, what we see every day, what we have to go through."

"Sometimes adults don't take us seriously," adds her classmate, Yesenia Cuatlatl. "Y-PLAN is a good idea because sometimes we say, 'Oh, they really need to change this,' but we don't do anything; we just talk about it."

Judging from the enthusiasm of their audience, the students' work -- and the determination that went with it -- helped adults take them very seriously indeed. As Bill Lindsay told students, "If you ever want to talk about city management as a long-term goal, please give me a call."

Y-PLAN is transformative, says Ariel Bierbaum, for both the audience (civic leaders and urban planners) and for the young presenters, who "gain facility with a new vocabulary and advocate for themselves in a civic space. Even though it's just a semester, from what I've seen, I think the kids hold on to that."

Ripple Effects

Many students do hold onto the experience -- and not just symbolically. As Y-PLAN introduces them to a spectrum of employment opportunities in urban development, planning, politics, and administration, some pursue related careers, many at UC Berkeley. "Without doing Y-PLAN, I don't think many students would have been exposed to those professions, or would even have known they exist," says Jeff Vincent, deputy director of the Center for Cities & Schools. Although the university is a local resource for these students, some do not see prestigious UC Berkeley -- or any college -- as a real possibility. Y-PLAN, which includes a tour of the Berkeley campus and tips on the admissions process, helps make college a more accessible option.

Y-PLAN has also had ripple effects nationwide: From 2000 to 2005, the Center for Cities & Schools worked with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to adapt the Y-PLAN model to HOPE VI, a public-housing-redevelopment initiative. In partnership with thirty-seven cities and more than 500 students, Y-PLAN coordinators led multiple-day "urban-planning boot camps," creating, says Deborah McKoy, "a national network of youth who live in public housing, and who then were a part of the redevelopment of their communities."

And in 2007, Alissa Kronovet, a former Y-PLAN mentor and a graduate of the city planning master's program at UC Berkeley, gathered students from both coasts to form the Young Planners Network (YPN) -- what McKoy refers to as "advanced Y-PLAN" -- an opportunity for students to attend planning conferences and network with students from other cities across North America. The YPN was created after Kronovet and an initial group of fifteen students from the Bay Area and Brooklyn met and worked with students from New Orleans at last year's Planners Network Conference. Participants were eager to continue learning, meeting one another, and, as YPN participant and Emery student Deszeray Williams puts it, "make a career out of helping make my community a better place." In April 2008, 100 people attended the first YPN conference, held in New York City, and a conference is scheduled in Berkeley for next spring.

Now that the program has been running for almost a decade, Center for Cities & Schools staffers have put together a "Y-PLAN Handbook," a step-by-step guide available to the center's school and community partners. Although Y-PLAN is a labor- and resource-intensive undertaking, its founders have high hopes for its scalability -- and, ultimately, for sustained, systemic change in communities and schools.

It's a daunting task, of course, but the Y-PLAN approach embraces one key idea: Start with the kids. "Even though we may not say it, we care about our community as much as adults do," says student Chantell Brown. "We did Y-PLAN so that we could have a voice."

This article was also published in the October 2008 issue of Edutopia magazine.

  • Avatar
  • nap
  • Respected Neighbor
  • Pawtucket, RI
  • 3152 Posts
  • Respect-O-Meter: Respected Neighbor

That is certainly a terrific idea to explore. Empowered kids of what their needs to be included.

Advertise Here!

Promote Your Business or Product for $10/mo


For just $10/mo you can promote your business or product directly to nearby residents. Buy 12 months and save 50%!