Wednesday, 1-23-2002


Dear Political Diary,

I went to the Northeast Regional Corrections Center this morning to meet with Diane Mozol's latest parenting class. Its about the forth time I've done this. I pulled out my gorilla slippers and read a couple of good stories to the class. 

It was a smaller group than usual which meant that the men would get more time to video tape themselves reading  for their children. Diane has been using me to give them pointers on how to read and be a cheerleader for good  parenting too. As usual I loaned some of my books to class members. 

Most of the guys had young children. One had a child who had died I presume he thought he might have more someday. Another fellow had three boys in their mid or late teens. He asked for some suggestions for something his older kids would like to have him read. I suggested Langston Hughes's story, "Yes Ma'mm." I told him I'd bring it back later that day since I didn't have my copy of it with me.

After the guys took a break a couple of them shook my hand and thanked me. Before I left Diane told me about one of her students from the previous year. She had asked him permission to show his tape to future classes because it was so good. She had even taken the trouble to get his signed release. 

This former student had started her class after it was half over and sat slumped over and uncommunicative. This kept up until the time came for him to record his video and read to his kids. He was suddenly transformed and great job even capping his reading off with a puppet show.

It was a lovely story but it had a bad ending. This student died last on the outside of jail murdered by a friend. 

When I returned later with the Langston Hughes book I got talking with a corrections officer whose son will be graduating this year in Robb's class. He was curious about why I thought East should be the school to close? 

I had started the day by catching up on my Newsweek. I was so taken with one author's Twelve Tips to black Americans on how to succeed in the white world that I looked it up on the Internet and copied it into the web. I had just read a story in the Duluth Trib about the sad condition of minority children in our state. Minnesota, hats off to thee.

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