Learning respect in Ferguson

The St. Louis area waited anxiously for the grand jury’s decision on whether to indict the officer who shot Michael Brown to death. The crowds featured signs saying “Don’t Shoot” and “Hands up — don’t shoot me.”

It would have been much better if the signs had said “Educate Me” or “Train Me” to qualify for a respectable job. “Help Me” to respect my community, respect others and, above all, respect myself. That training hasn’t happened, and we saw the result when the grand jury decision did not please the crowd.

We expect our schools to close the wide racial achievement gap, but by that time it is too late. The problem starts early, in the home where a child must learn respect for learning and himself.

The less privileged child often enters school to compete with children from homes with computers and parents who have already taught them reading skills.

We can help with a strong preschool program, open to all. Parents and schools need to work together to show young children that the “three R’s” do not stand for riots, robbery and rabble rousing.

As one community leader in Ferguson, Mo., recently put it, “if protesters can’t police ourselves, if we can’t hold ourselves accountable, then how can we demand accountability from police?”