Dayton is failing its kids

History repeats itself. Readers of this site remember what happened to me at the Spring Urban Nights when I went to document a swarm of kids near the RTA hub.

UPDATE @ 10:45 p.m.: Six tickets for disorderly conduct have been issued to juveniles stemming from the fighting.

Most of the skirmishing seemed to located in the area of the RTA hub on Third Street.

Urban Nights ended at 9:30 p.m., said Val Beerbower, public relations and communications manager with the Downtown Dayton Partnership.

FIRST REPORT: Reports of fighting downtown involving at least 100 people have prompted police to ask for extra crews to help restore order.

There are reports of fighting being reported at the RTA hub on Third Street. There have been reports of fighting at First and Patterson earlier.

At 9:58 p.m., Jefferson Street was being blocked to stop civilian traffic at Third and Fourth streets.

Dayton police are asking for additional officers from the city’s east and west sides as well as from the University of Dayton.

via Dayton police responding to fighting downtown | Dayton, OH News | www.whio.com.

I didn’t go last night, because I was pretty sure it would happen again- and I had a ton of work to finish. I wouldn’t have waded into another one of these swarms again.

In front page news, Dayton Public School scored near the bottom of all Districts in the State. Jefferson Township and Trotwood Madison were right there with them.

Dayton Public Schools again had the lowest performance index in the area, with its 75.2 mark ranking. Dayton had the second worst ranking among Ohio public districts, only ahead of Warrensville Heights in northeast Ohio. On another measure, DPS did meet two of the 24 state testing standards, putting it ahead of Cleveland, Youngstown and Canton schools, and tying Dayton with Columbus, Toledo and Akron…

Dayton (2), Trotwood-Madison (3) and Middletown (3) schools ranked lowest in standards met…

Dayton, Trotwood and Tri-County North were the only local schools to receive three F’s in value-added….

Trotwood (74.8), Northridge (73.1) and Dayton (72.2) had the lowest graduation rates, although Dayton’s rate was an improvement from last year’s 69.9.

via How did your schools rank in new state report card report? | www.mydaytondailynews.com.

There is a direct correlation between these two news stories. And there is a solution- and it costs a lot less than what our city wastes in corporate welfare under the guise of  “economic development.”

We’ve abandoned our youth.

I grew up in a community that was more Oakwood than Dayton. Cleveland Heights wasn’t as wealthy, or as lily white in the 70’s but it had a focus on its kids. There were “park monitors” in the summer in parks throughout the city- high schoolers who were paid and sent to parks and school playgrounds with a duffel bag of bats, balls, Frisbees, and a job description of helping kids have fun together. We spend a couple of million each summer on our YouthWorks program putting kids into businesses – but nothing to let kids lead kids. Heights also had outdoor pools, an ice rink, the sorts of things one only finds in Kettering today. School scores aside, I think Kettering gets many more things right in their spending priorities which seem focused on quality of life- which in turn positions them nicely for the private sector to do their own economic development. For those of you who aren’t aware- they have an ice rink, BMX track, an internationally recognized skate park, indoor outdoor pools with waterpark features, enough soccer fields to host the world cup (if only parents were watching) baseball, softball and basketball courts all in top condition.

Dayton, our largest city can point to a few dedicated private citizens and organizations doing the right thing:

Little league LogoFirst Dayton Little League: Located in Dayton, OH, First Dayton Little League is in Ohio District 8 under District Administrator Shannon Walker. The league has been a chartered member of Little League since 1951. Approximately 90 children are participating in First Dayton Little League, which fields 5 teams. The league president is Ron Johnson.

via First Dayton Little League.

The program at Washington Park died a few years ago, due to a number of factors. Here are a hole 90 kids, out of probably close to 20,000 that are involved in “America’s pastime.”

When it comes to youth football- there is a small league that does it’s best to make things happen for the kids.

The Dayton Jets Youth Football and Cheerleading (DJYFC) is a youth football organization based in Dayton. We are a certified non-profit with the State of Ohio and a recognized 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. We are a member of the Butler County Youth Football League (BCYFL) in Hamilton, Ohio. Also affiliated with the American Youth Football Association (AYF), one of the largest international youth football organizations established to promote the wholesome development of youth with an emphasis on learning, playing, and enjoying the sport while instilling high moral standards.

via The Mission | Dayton Jets Youth Football and Cheerleading.

They involve more kids than the Little League organization. For a while the now renamed “Vikings” team, played on the worst field I’ve ever seen- the old Belmont High Schook practice field- before giving up and moving to Wright Brothers school field. When they asked repeatedly for DPS to help them with an electricity drop and permission to place a POD container, they got nowhere until a connected parent pushed for some help.

From the Dayton Jets site (they ge

Teens who do not participate in after school programs are nearly three times more likely to skip classes or use marijuana or other drugs; they are also more likely to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes and engage in sexual activity. (YMCA of the USA, March 2001)

Children in after school programs were half as likely to drop out of high school, and two and one half times more likely to pursue higher education, than students not participating. (Fight Crime: Invest in Kids 2000)

Young people need the influence of caring adults and positive role models in their lives. Good after school programs can accomplish that by helping youngsters develop the knowledge, skills and healthy habits to achieve their greatest potential. (US Secretary of Education Rod Paige, 2003)

via Did You Know? | Dayton Jets Youth Football and Cheerleading.

Soccer, the cheapest sport out there, in terms of equipment, is staging a surge, mostly due to the immigrant community- both the Turks and Mexicans get it- and want programs for their kids.

DASA’s Commitment to our Community

Our Value Statement:
Teaching important lifetime skills in soccer, teamwork, and promoting a healthy, active lifestyle, kids having fun!

Our Mission:
To continuously provide a high-quality, affordable, recreational soccer experience for Dayton youth and their families.

Dayton SAY is the official youth soccer program for the City of Dayton Recreation and Youth Services. We are committed to serve the children of Dayton with the same intent, “Building community togetherness, stability and growth using recreation and youth services to enhance the quality of life for Dayton youth and families”.

via Dayton Area Soccer Association – (Dayton, OH) – powered by LeagueLineup.com.

And, lastly, basketball, where we are finally doing something about the decrepit state of our outdoor courts, there are three resources:

For all my visits to basketball courts in the city- I’ve only encountered one “supervised” session, where a 41-year-old barber from Trotwood was working with neighborhood kids, his kid and his dead sister’s 5 kids that he’d taken in, at the old Grace A Greene courts, where there are 6 backboards, 5 rims and a lot of weeds in the cracks.

Going to the city rec’s page- they offer:

The City of Dayton’s Youth Sports Leagues are great for learning sportsmanship, teamwork, and developing athletic talent. In the fall and winter we offer a variety of basketball leagues. In the spring and summer we offer T?ball, coach pitch and kid pitch baseball, girls’ softball, and boxing. We also provide various classes to get youth active and moving all year long.

via Dayton Ohio Athletics | City of Dayton Ohio Recreation | Athletics.

and of course- a video of our very unathletic  mayor making a speech at “Youth Baseball Day.” If you watch the video, you find out that in order to make the field playable at Princeton Recreation Center- it took help of the Cincinnati Reds and three other donors. Our city, while it has no problem handing off a million plus dollars to tear down buildings for a developer without money or a plan, can’t maintain its own baseball fields.

I’m sure there are other programs- one of my favorites is the what used to be called the “Invincible Regulating Striders” and now just the Dayton Striders. A champion drill team that keeps kids busy and gives them goals.

The two diamonds at the end of my street are unrecognizable as diamonds anymore. A neighbor had to spend hours working on weeding the cracks in the tennis court, and then tightened a net to be able to play tennis with his kids.

Our schools have cut gym. Busing makes after school sports a very difficult process for parents. Each neighborhood has kids attending a dozen plus different schools. Scouting is an expensive proposition for low-income youth. Our two Boy’s and Girl’s clubs shrunk to one (where the outdoor courts in the parking lot have 4 backboards and 3 rims).

We filled in our outdoor pools. We sold off our recreation centers or tore them down. We’ve failed our kids.

And then we wonder why our schools are failing and we’ve got kids wilding in the streets?

Scoff at my hanging green basketball nets, (over 500 so far)- but it guilted city hall into investing a reported million dollars in court replacements and upgrades. Now, we need to figure out how to get kids working with role model adults on those basketball courts if we want to keep them out of the criminal courts.

It’s not just a question of can we do better? It’s we must do better. We’re failing our kids.

UPDATE

first comment on Facebook by Jay Madewell- music programs too. DPS has no more music programs (except Stivers). Time to bring back music into the schools.

If there are any youth sports programs that I missed- or programs for kids in Dayton- please leave them in comments- thank you.

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