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Education: Giving Lessons About Life to Kids

July 14, 1994

I read with interest your article "Life Lessons" (April 7) concerning student community service programs in schools. As both an elected official and an educator, I believe such programs are of critical importance to both the students and their communities.

For many years I have been concerned that nearly one half of my students (11- and 12-year-olds) cannot name the city in which they reside. Our modern suburban cities have lost what we used to call "a sense of community." Kids who used to seek a sense of security from their neighborhoods and communities are turning to street gangs to provide that same feeling of security.

Our kids need to know, at a very early age, that their ideas count and that their efforts are important. Youth service gives them experiences that provide immediate positive feedback for their efforts. It helps eradicate the seeds of "me-ism" that so pervades society today. To put in a more graphic way, I'd rather have candy stripers than car strippers. I'd rather see peer tutors than drug touters. I'd rather have kids do toy wrapping than gangsta rapping. Having kids helping out is better than their hanging out any day!

ROBERT W. BRUESCH

Rosemead mayor

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