Let us not linger too long wringing our hands and shedding our tears.

Be assured that I write this as one who has shed many a tear over the loss of far too many young people shot and killed in north Minneapolis over the last 20 years. But I also get deeply angry over each untimely death -- because this violence does not have to happen.

What the wonderful youths and adults of north Minneapolis really need are our long-term effective actions, not after-the-fact weeping and lamentation. They need constructive efforts that build for the future more than they need commiseration over momentary calamity.

And by comparison with the overhaul of K-12 education, every other action is just application of the Band-Aid, the treating of symptom rather than cause.

For more than 30 years, the public K-12 schools of north Minneapolis have been on a steep decline into failure. From the late 1970s, as great numbers of Jewish and middle-class African-American people exited for St. Louis Park and other near suburbs, many of those left behind have been the poorest community members.

New neighbors appeared, recently arrived from gravely challenged communities in Chicago, Gary and Detroit.

These more recent arrivals had little idea of the proud traditions that have abided on the North Side: the splendid activities of the Phyllis Wheatley Settlement House under the 1924-1937 tenure of W. Gertrude Brown, the life of old 6th Avenue (today's Olson Highway) into the late 1930s and the heyday of North High School into the 1950s as Minnesota's best secondary institution.

White, middle-class educators were overwhelmed amid the shifts of population and community identity. There were virtually no African-American teachers in the Minneapolis public schools of the 1970s.

Even today, while African-Americans and other people of color are notably represented at the administrative level, teachers are overwhelmingly white.

More importantly, few middle-class educators of any race really feel in the gut the struggles of people from impoverished conditions and the stark challenges that so many students face.

Then there are the problems of teacher quality and approaches to education. Teacher-preparation programs are inadequate.

Virtually no teachers possess master's degrees granted from departments of history, math, biology and English literature -- rather than from departments of education. Teachers too often see themselves as classroom facilitators, rather than as expert conveyors of solid knowledge and skills.

There are too many DVDs watched out of context, too many unfocused field trips, too many distracting assemblies and pep rallies, too many inadequate substitute teachers, too much turning to the back of the book to answer questions without any understanding of what chapters are actually presenting in the way of subject-area knowledge.

Imagine school officials walking the streets of north Minneapolis on a consistent basis and telling people right where they live that "we care."

Imagine teachers able to inspire in young people a love of Shakespeare, August Wilson, the science of the natural world, the beauty of mathematics, and the sheer delight of great paintings and sculpture.

Imagine young people so productively occupied in their abundant knowledge and interests that they have no time to shoot each other.

Imagine that young people then know that knowledge is not only wonderful for its own sake, but that it also paves the way for success in business, law, medicine and all endeavors in the world of work to which young people would aspire.

Know that then, as you know that the sun will come up tomorrow, there would also be a new day dawning in north Minneapolis. And know that you would blessedly have little need for all of that hand-wringing and all of those touching but ineffective tears.

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Gary Marvin Davison was researcher and writer for the 2004 and 2008 editions of "The State of African Americans in Minnesota" for the Minneapolis Urban League and serves as director of the New Salem Educational Initiative in north Minneapolis. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of New Salem.