Sunday, December 10, 2006

Dallas' Pearl Guards mission unfinished

Fifteen years ago, students at Pearl C. Anderson middle school in south Dallas, led by teacher Ron Price, formed the "Pearl Guards" to clean up the environment around the school, particularly liquor stores that were a magnet for drunkenness, prostitution, and other crimes. Their protests led to a city ordinance supposedly creating a 1000-foot clean zone around schools ... but loopholes and lax enforcement have left many students and school staff feeling betrayed.
More than a decade after a group of South Dallas youngsters known as the Pearl Guards fought to eliminate alcohol businesses near their middle school, little has changed: Customers exit the businesses with bottles in brown paper bags. Homeless people linger out front. Some patrons drink in the parking lots, and brawls break out.It often unfolds as youngsters make their way to and from nearby schools. "The mental pictures – they're poisoning to the mind, especially the younger kids'," said Richard Harper, who was a Pearl Guard 15 years ago.
This article in the Dallas Morning News delves into the complex web of local and statewide zoning politics and beverage industry juice that the students and their educators face in trying to surround the schools with a decent environment.

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