Principal Shortcoming | Letters | Chicago Reader

Principal Shortcoming 

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To the editors:

Catching up on my Reader articles, I read the January 25, 1991, article about Al Clark and his mission of changing attitudes within Cregier High School. It occurred to me that I have read this story a million times. Every story I have ever read about anybody black setting and achieving his/her goal, it begins with the allusion to "his ghetto life." Rather than focus on what Al Clark is doing, Joravsky makes sure the reader focuses first on the fact that Al Clark started out broke. That's where most of folks of any color, who accomplish anything, starts. Big deal!

His present personal and professional mission of turning Cregier students into assets for themselves and their community is admirable and above all doable. Joe Clark is only one of the people that have accomplished this task. Al Clark's biggest job is going to be instilling any sense of responsibility in kids that come from homes that don't use the word. Negating that other "16 hours" Clark mentioned at the end of Joravsky's article will be a formidable task. I wish them all well.

I thought Al Clark would probably do the kids at Cregier much good until I got to the part of the article where Clark laments that "I had no role model." Now let us get this straight. A few paragraphs before the "no role model" whine, Clark stated his mother died when he was four years old and he had three siblings. He further states he had a father like the fathers of his students, one devoid of a sense of responsibility. He states his father flat out stated he expected Al Clark to do nothing more than go to jail like himself. But in walks his grandmother. She takes in four people that weren't her fault. She gives up not only the privacy and space in her home, but unselfishly sleeps with her two granddaughters. Al Clark says his grandmother cooked, kept them clean, and saw that they do their homework every night. Clark further states his grandmother taught and reinforced the work ethic of earning what he would get in this world and to respect others as he would have them respect himself.

So this woman was a model of charity, unselfishness, kindness, strength, respect for her fellow man, independence through hard work, determination in getting her grandchildren educated, all of these things adding up to pure love.

But she did not have a penis so she was not a "role model." I hope that woman doesn't read this article on this thoughtless, ungrateful wretch. Without his grandmother, not only would this man never have attained a goal, he would never have set any but the next murder. With Al Clark's sense of reasoning, I'm sitting here feeling sorry for the kids being left in his care.

I wonder what he would have called my little black daddy, he was always in the kitchen. He was the only person in the house that wore an apron.

Maryanne Burgess

W. Ainslie

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