Taking hits, but not backing downPasadena Star News, Tuesday September 25 2007 Guest View P Opinion 4 



I’VE got a book on the market called “They’re Your Kids, Not Your Friends.” The publishers in Mexico who picked up the rights went along with that title, calling the Spanish version, “Son Tus Hijos, No Tus Amigos.”


Just like I never believed my kids should be my friends, I don’t believe readers of this column have to be my friends.


My kids didn’t like the approach I took to life, and that’s putting it mildly in regard to their feelings about the approach I took to their lives.


Just like those I’ve been hearing from in the community who claim I don’t understand and don’t want to listen to reason when it comes to my recent column calling for the ouster of all those associated with Nia Charter School, my kids always said I didn’t understand or want to hear their point of view.


The angry community members who believe I’ve betrayed them, my ancestors and my ethnicity by outing a black pimping institution, know right from wrong just as my kids usually did. Funny, with all the accusations, I didn’t hear anyone claim Nia was doing a good job.


I don’t write because I want people, black or white, to like me. I write because I have a viewpoint, and while most people aren’t willing to say the emperor is not wearing clothes, I don’t know how to pretend he’s fully dressed.


One curt remark thrown my way reminded me that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Another well-wisher called me petty for having stored up my anger regarding my daughter’s experience at Nia not being what I had “dreamed” it would be.


“Some people, and I guess you’re one,” my detractor reminded me, “get (ticked) off when they don’t get special treatment.”


Adequate education, in America, isn’t classified as special treatment – at least it shouldn’t be.


Writing an opinion column reminds me of the saying, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” I plan to stay right next to the hot stove.


Readers often remind me of the joy one finds in raising kids. Mine claimed to hate me on a very regular basis. Well, that was only until they grew up, moved out and learned life was a whole lot tougher than growing up under the “Captain,” as their friends named me.


That’s not to say I expect complaining readers to grow up – I don’t. But I do hope they will recognize that I’m not biting my nails because they hate what I write.


Was my column that pointed out the lack of learning that takes place at Nia an attack on a black educational institution that has and continues to fail the most vulnerable students in our school district?




Do I write by assignment that which the Star-News dictates?


Get real.


I’m an opinion columnist. I write what I think, and the Star-News hasn’t got an idea what I’ll write about next. They certainly don’t know what I’m going to say, because even I don’t know that until I fire-up my iMac.


Oh, and about kids and readers, I love you all. It’s the rocks that get thrown my way and my inability to know how to write what people want to read that keeps my adrenalin pumping.




Shirlee Smith is host and producer of the award-winning cable show “Talk About Parenting with Shirlee Smith” and is a resident of Altadena.