Gentrification. Segregation. Poverty. And Education

© copyight 2013 Betsy L. Angert BeThink

In 2013 the issue of poverty is pronounced.  It is the cause of great debate and much conflict.  However, the conflict is mostly in interest, self-interest.  The one interest that receives far less if any attention at all is poverty and the extent of poverty. How to effectively end it is a question that few consider.  The conventional wisdom is there is a safety-net which will care for the impoverished. The reality is there are holes in the net.  Equally significant is the notion that we, as individuals, will never be among the poor.  Actually, one in two of us already are.

Perceptions explain why most Americans do not consider themselves poor.  The common belief held by 27% is the poor are lazy and I am not.  Forty-three percent of Americans surveyed said they believe people living in poverty can always find a job if they really want to work. At the same time, 38 percent of Americans have requested some type of help including food or financial assistance from a charity.  Thirteen [13] percent have spent a night on the streets or in a shelter.   Perceptions of Poverty counter reality. Nonetheless, these are notions we hold dear.

Mostly mired in self-survival, people, a large percentage of whom are the low-income working poor,have little time to attend to the poverty of others.  This affects our children and their education.  Not withstanding the desire, “low-income caregivers frequently do not know the names of their children’s teachers or friends. One study found that only 36 percent of low-income parents were involved in three or more school activities on a regular basis, compared with 59 percent of parents above the poverty line (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2000).”  Startling as it is, for calendar year 2011 the percentage of children (persons under 18) in poverty was 21.9 percent. The total number  that same year was 16.1 million.

This may be the truer silent and unseen majority.  When we do catch sight of the children, poor and wealthy alike, we perceive healthy, happy, bundles of joy.  Never do we imagine what we would not wish to believe exists, especially to the extent it does.

As Professor John Korsmo, PhD  observed in The Journal of Educational Controversy, Poverty and Class: Discussing the Undiscussible,  “Much like race, religiosity, sex, and a whole host of contrived privilege points in the U.S., poverty and class have remained for the most part don’t-go-there designations; topics that individuals, human service, and educational institutions often avoid openly discussing.”  Our intentional choice not to think about, talk about, or teach the subject of socio-economic privilege associated with class dilutes efforts to eliminate poverty and ultimately, our progress in doing so.  We do not associate with or support those who bear the brunt of income inequality.  Conveniently and again by choice, we drive down safer roads.

The vast majority of us sit in our cars, alone.  We travel on freeways, fast.  Were we to slow down we would still not see what exists behind what we call sound-walls.  We are sealed off and do not, cannot see the circumstances of the other, “those poor souls.”  The barriers we build both literally and figuratively are large and high; best of all for policymakers they hide the truth.  Black and Brown communities are ignored.  The only time we attend to what occurs in these neighborhoods is when we think to convert them. Take a blighted neighborhood, expel the residents, raze the roofs, and build beauty where blight once existed.  Where do we put the poor who once occupied the dilapidated homes?  That is a problem we will set aside, place behind a newer wall and never wonder about again.  Thus, is the situation today in Chicago 2013.

Excuses are made.  Officials invested in Charter Schools and gentrification projects say “Enrollment is down.  Schools are underutilized.”,  Neither claim can be substantiated without skewing the numbers.  Even some  High-performing schools are slated for closures; however only in already neglected Black and Brown communities.  Often children are being forced to travel long distances and cross gang-lines to attend a lower-performing receiving school.  Mostly, the young will walk. Transportation is costly and dollars for such a luxury are scant.   Parents and Principals at the “receiving schools” are perplexed and troubled. Classrooms currently in the “receiving schools” will become fuller,  basically overcrowded entities.  Bad as these concerns are, what is worst is the impending community effect of school closures.  Lifelines will be cut!

For Tzia, a third grader who is on the student council, afternoons at the neighborhood school on Chicago’s West Side are a variety show of ballet and martial arts, hip-hop and cooking class, tutoring and fund-raisers. Five days a week, sometimes past nightfall.

Much will be lost.  Mothers such as mother Shawanna Turner, 30, attended the school she now sends little Tzia to. Her family all graduated from this neighborhood school.  In the communities that face school closures, generations of families came together in their neighborhood learning centers.  Children found freedom and refuge, as did their parents in local public schools.  Events were planned in and executed around school activities. Neighborhood businesses in the surrounding area too were invested in these institutions. Children learned. Moms and Dads took classes too.  Extra-curricula activities expanded minds and supported strong bodies.  From the windows of these schools the winds blew and streets were safer because of the education little learners received.  Now, that solid anchor will be taken away.

Doors will be slammed shut. Windows shuttered. Building will be left to die or be demolished quickly.  We, those who do not wish to see or discuss what we do or what is done in our names will remain silent. That is the American way.  Do we drive by and shoot down all that supports a community?

Chicago is not alone. The difference in what occurs is only in scale.  Gentrification is the complement to segregation.  Segregation is the sister to poverty. Each shows up in our city schools.  Essentially, this is the story of school closures and the fight for education as a human and civil right.

Gentrification. Segregation. Poverty. Each cements the certainty that children of color will be underserved in society and underserved in our schools.  Education, which can be the cure, is hurt by each of these.  Lets us look at the numbers, and then seek out those sweet faces, our fellow Americans who flounder because of what we have done and are doing..

Perhaps, it is past time to tear down sound and sight walls.   Let us acknowledge the pervasive inequality and then, and always take action!  We might begin by thinking more thoroughly about school closings, the cause and effect.  Consider the circumstances in countless cities, Chicago, Philadelphia Detroit and New York…and your hometown. Is there a racial divide, a socioeconomic destabilization, and are children and education lost?

Perchance, if we ensure that education is a human and civil right we will establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, or we can settle or what is and stay silent.  Please ponder the following articles and statistics.  You may be surprised by what has been long blocked from view.

Poverty and segregation: birds of a feather

Posted by Steve Bogira on 06.08.12 at 04:01 PM

Ignoring the misery of the poor is easy because of our separateness.

“It’s incredible that we tolerate for a minute the reality of 6 million of us living on food stamps alone,” Laura Flanders observed last week in a Nation blog post. (Nationally, the average monthly individual food stamp benefit is $134.) “I suspect it’s because we’re experiencing a new kind of segregation,” Flanders wrote. “Somehow, neither policy makers nor opinion makers seem to know enough poor people well enough to feel them, living and breathing.”

Flanders is right that segregation is central to our apathy about poverty; it isn’t really six million of us subsisting on food stamps. But segregation isn’t new, nor is it limited to policy makers and opinion makers. It’s a way of life, in Chicago and many big cities. As we showed last year, most of our city’s African-Americans still live in 21 community areas whose aggregate population is a stunning 96 percent black. The vast majority of Chicago’s high-poverty census tracts are in these areas.

Then there’s our public school system. To look at the percentage of white kids in Chicago’s public schools you’d never know that the city is 45 percent white. The racial segregation of our schools is economic segregation as well: 87 percent of the students in the public schools are from low-income families. With such a concentration of poverty in classrooms, trying to solve the schools’ problems with a longer day or more rigorous testing is naive.

We’re also segregated, racially and economically, where most of us work. And our residential and economic separateness lead quite naturally to segregation when we eat out, and go to movies, plays, concerts, and ball games. White people often don’t even notice how pervasive segregation is, since, for the most part, we’re not the ones being harmed by it.

Becoming aware of how segregated we are won’t by itself change things. But it’s a necessary first step.

Chicago’s growing racial gap in child poverty

Posted by Steve Bogira on 10.04.12 at 10:23 AM

More than one in three Chicago children are living in poverty, according to newly published census data. But a closer look at those figures shows that “one in three” hides a striking inequality.

Fewer than one in 11 white kids here are living in poverty-compared with more than one in two black kids.

The news regarding white Chicago kids, in fact, is good: their poverty rate is significantly lower than the national rate for white kids. But for black, Asian, and Hispanic children, the poverty incidence is higher in Chicago than for their counterparts nationally:

  • Children 17 and younger. Data from American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, analyzed by Social IMPACT Research Center at Heartland Alliance,/li>

    Moreover, the racial gap in child poverty in Chicago appears to be growing:


  • Children 17 and younger. Data from American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, analyzed by Social IMPACT Research Center at Heartland Alliance
  • As the numbers show, child poverty has declined for Asians and gone up modestly for whites since 2000-while climbing significantly for blacks and Latinos.

    References and Resources….

    The Morals Of A Gnat

    copyright © 2009 Forgiven. The Disputed Truth

    As I watched the rant of CNBC analyst Rick Santelli concerning the proposed housing bailout of the Obama administration I couldn’t help but think is this where we have evolved to as a country? Where our chief concern is what’s in it for me. Have we gotten to the place where we are taking our moral cues from the same greedy, profit at all cost mentality that got us into this mess? According to this crowd it is now immoral to help those who have become unemployed, sick, or homeless because they have had the misfortune of working for a company that had lay-offs and didn’t have golden parachutes. Because these people are still fortunate enough to be employed and have homes then the rest of the world be damned?

    The popularity of this type of behavior illustrates how through the media and our decades of greed we have become desensitized to the suffering of others. We are emulating the attitudes of the “Gilded Age” prior to the “Great Depression” where as long as the misery is affecting others then it is not my concern. This type of behavior is often times seen in courtrooms where we blame the victim in order for us to not believe that we ourselves could be victims of similar mishaps. It is a response to a deep-seated fear and insecurity because deep inside we all know that we could just as easily be that victim. So rather than accept the possibility that it could be us we place blame and give the victims characteristics that reduce their humanity. In this case that all of the people who are being foreclosed on are somehow responsible for their misfortune due to bad decision making or some other moral deficiency.

    The problem I have with this guy in particular and with the recent criticism of the economic plans of this administration in general is that people are treating this crisis like it is just another recession and so all we need are a few minor tweaks and the system will right itself. Anyone with the slightest understanding of this crisis and of our history realizes that this is not the 1970’s or 1990’s where we faced market corrections and slight downturns and our solutions did not require radical departures from previous policies. The current crop of naysayers whether they be the greedy or the Republicans seem to be focused on the short-term, for some reason they refuse to look at the overall view.

    They take snippets of data and scraps of the solutions and say this does nothing to change the crisis this week as if we got here overnight. The problem with many of them is that they believe the history of America started on January 20th and ignore the systemic problems brought about by years of neglect and greed.

    What I don’t understand is when did our morals become everybody for themselves? I find it hard to believe that we have become a nation of such selfish proportions. I was taught and firmly believe still that if my neighbor is struggling and if I can help him then I should. We are being bombarded by article after article and rant after rant about the ignorance of the average American for buying homes they could not afford or speculating on the real estate market. It is a common refrain of the right and the greedy to blame those less fortunate for their circumstances as if they were the ones who brought down our economy. It is like the welfare queens of Reagan claiming that every woman on welfare was a black woman driving a Cadillac and living in some fancy condominium.

    The sad part is that it resonates with people. It allows those who are selfish to ignore and overlook the suffering of those they see every day. It allows them to make judgments about those they don’t know and based on those judgments walk by the homeless, the hungry, and the poor without feeling guilty.

    Have we become so jaded that our national conscience can no longer be shamed into action on the part of those less fortunate? It is a shame how the wealthy and the greedy have turned this into a referendum of the middle-class and not a condemnation of the greedy who ran our economy into the ground. While the CEO’s are brought before the cameras not to be drawn and quartered for their excesses, but merely to be scolded like unruly children and sent back to their mansions and country club lifestyles. Yet those poor Americans who can and have lost their homes are told you were stupid and we won’t help you. We reward those who have lost billions of dollars of other people’s money and blame those who have lost thousands of their own dollars. Is it me or is there something wrong with this picture?

    No Mr. Santelli, the message our government is sending is not that you don’t have to pay your mortgage if you are laid-off or you have a rotten loan, the message that our government is sending is that we care for all Americans not just the greedy and the wealthy. The message we are sending is that we are a compassionate nation and if that offends your delicate sensibilities then maybe you ought to relocate to a country where excess and greed are not frowned upon. Do I think that it is fair that I have to continue to pay my mortgage while others may receive some help? Of course not, but I thank God that I am not in their shoes yet! How about you Mr. Santelli if it is such a great deal why don’t you quit your job and apply for foreclosure assistance?

    There are many more wrong answers than right ones, and they are easier to find

    ~ Michael Friedlander

    School Diversity Segregates Some. Divided Neighborhoods Isolate All

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    Today, I was reminded of how deeply divided this nation is.  I read School Diversity Based on Income Segregates Some.  I discovered in an attempt to offer equal opportunities, indeed, schools discovered discrimination remained a dominant force.  School Boards, Administrators, and the community-at-large concluded educational institutions would be more diverse if learners were assigned to schools based on family incomes.  A plan was introduced and implemented.  The outcome was mixed; however, the pupil populations were less so.  Some races, colors, and creeds were abundant within a given institution; others were not well represented.

    This findings were contrary to the expected and desired intent of educators.  School Districts were determined to establish a sense of unity in their local schools.  They did not wish to register or reject students on the basis of race.  Family earnings were used to ascertain eligibility.  Enrollment numbers were controlled; however the outcome was not as predicted.  In a recent New York Times article Journalists Jonathan D. Glater and Alan Finder reported.

    San Francisco – When San Francisco started trying to promote socioeconomic diversity in its public schools, officials hoped racial diversity would result as well.

    It has not worked out that way.

    Abraham Lincoln High School, for example, with its stellar reputation and Advanced Placement courses, has drawn a mix of rich and poor students.  More than 50 percent of those students are of Chinese descent.

    “If you look at diversity based on race, the school hasn’t been as integrated,? Lincoln?s principal, Ronald J. K. Pang, said.  “If you don’t look at race, the school has become much more diverse.”

    San Francisco began considering factors like family income, instead of race, in school assignments when it modified a court-ordered desegregation plan in response to a lawsuit.  But school officials have found that the 55,000-student city school district, with Chinese the dominant ethnic group followed by Hispanics, blacks and whites, is resegregrating.

    The number of schools where students of a single racial or ethnic group make up 60 percent or more of the population in at least one grade is increasing sharply.  In 2005-06, about 50 schools were segregated using that standard as measured by a court-appointed monitor.  That was up from 30 schools in the 2001-02 school year, the year before the change, according to court filings.

    It is not a mystery why this might occur.  Perhaps, as often happens, one child spoke to a classmate of his, stating an interest in a particular school or program.  One mother chatted with her neighbor over the backyard fence.  They discussed her son’s education.  A father, in the local barbershop, mentioned his daughter would enroll in this facility or that.  Another resident of that small community thought the idea a good one.  They too entered their child in that facility. 

    People tend to discuss their decisions with those they know.  Word travels; however not as far and wide as it might.  We are acquainted with those that live near us.  Likely, the person next door or down the street has an income similar to our own.  Common interests are usual among people residing in the same community.  Often, people of one race, religion, or creed associate with those of similar backgrounds. 

    Humans are rarely distant from those they relate to.  In the workplace, the peons have no choice but to converse with those at their level.  Corporate Executive Officers rarely confer with their subordinates.  Middle managements lauds over the people that work for them.  However, they do not frequently lean over and say, “Would you like to join us in a meeting, come to dinner, or call me, just to talk.”  Our children watch us; they observe and absorb the characteristics that they experience.  Our offspring learn from us.

    Young persons typically admire their parents, or at least, those that care for them are an important influence.  We teach the children.  They learn their lessons well.  If we loathe our brethren, we can expect that our offspring will too.

    Hate is a learned response; so too is the gravitational pull to certain “types” of people.

    As we assess the recent report or other news of the day, we might wonder why segregation is so prevalent.  The answer abounds.  We heard it again only weeks ago.  The logic of Supreme Court Justices loomed large.  After assessing the evidence as it relates to Parents Involved In Community Schools versus Seattle School District Number 1 these esteemed Jurists announced their decision.

    “Before Brown, schoolchildren were told where they could and could not go to school based on the color of their skin,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for a plurality that included Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. “The school districts in these cases have not carried the heavy burden of demonstrating that we should allow this once again — even for very different reasons.”

    He added: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

    Again, we must acknowledge the attempts in San Francisco.  That School district thought they did as the Chief Justice directed.  Bay Area locals were resolute in their desire not to segregate on the basis of color.  Yet, they realized their efforts led students into greater isolation.  When School Boards concluded differences in incomes would lead to diversity, they negated an inherent fact.  As cited earlier in this essay, but bears repeating.  Frequently we forget, left to their own devices people prefer to be with their kind.

    I believe this reality is not innate; nor is it healthy.  It is a habit.  Imaginary “boundaries” were developed long ago before any of us was born.  The need to build walls and partitions has been passed down through the centuries.  Generation after generation does as their parents did.

    In prehistoric times, safety and a need for survival might have been a reason for concern.  People were nomads; they did not know, nor did they have the time to become acquainted with their neighbors.  Much has changed.  Civilization led to the growth of communities.  Now, we are connected, in cyberspace, and in cities.  Even those in the countryside are not far from other people.

    I think in order to make change we must be more conscious of our choices and what we accept as common wisdom.  Among the most proverbial conventions is there will always be poor persons. 

    I believe as long as there are underprivileged neighborhoods, there will be disadvantaged schools. 

    Educational institutions in our slums serve students already facing difficulties in their daily life.  The educators willing to teach in these facilities will likely be of lesser quality.  There may be a few committed to a cause; however, this is out of the ordinary.  Books will be borrowed, or cast-off when the elite schools think them obsolete.  Indeed, the pupils in these locals will be fortunate to have text to read.  The Center on Education Policy discusses this dynamic.

    Black and Hispanic students tend to take less-rigorous courses.  Though there are more black and Hispanic students taking academically rigorous courses now than in the past, whites and Asians still tend to be overrepresented in such courses.  In part, this situation results from the lack of advanced courses at high-minority schools.  In particular, researchers have found that schools in high-minority or high-poverty areas often offer a less-rigorous curriculum to begin with.  They thereby fail to challenge students, since they cover less material or give less homework.  This is a problem because research has found that students enrolled in challenging courses?in topics such as algebra, trigonometry, chemistry, and advanced English?usually have higher test scores than their peers.

    There is a lack of experienced teachers.  [Nancy Kober, author of the Center on Education Policy’s report] points out that black students are more likely to be taught by less-experienced teachers than white students.  Researchers have cited this factor as one of the most critical variables for explaining the achievement gap: there is a correlation between higher teacher certification scores and higher student achievement scores.  Teachers in districts where there are high percentages of black or Hispanic students tend to have lower scores on their certification tests.

    Teachers set their expectations low.  Studies have suggested that teachers sometimes have lower academic expectations for black and Hispanic children than they do for whites or Asians.  Kober warns that by setting expectations low, teachers run the risk of perpetuating the achievement gap since they do not encourage black and Hispanic students to follow a rigorous curriculum.

    Resource disparities handicap schools.  Low-minority schools tend to be much better funded and have all-around stronger resources than do high-minority schools. The same relationship holds true for schools in low-poverty versus high-poverty areas.  There is persuasive evidence that this factor contributes to the achievement gap.  For example, data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress show the achievement gap between low-poverty and high-poverty schools increased throughout the 1990s.

    Low-income and minority students tend to be concentrated in certain schools.  Kober notes that if a school has high levels of poverty, that can depress achievement for all the children in that school, even if they are from higher income families.  This fact hits Black and Hispanic children the hardest, since they are more likely to attend higher poverty schools than are whites or Asians.

    Student performance anxiety hampers minority students.  Some research has suggested that black students can become anxious about corresponding to negative racial stereotypes in their academic work.  The result, researchers say, is a kind of vicious circle: Black students can be so worried about seeming stereotypically ungifted academically that their anxiety actually makes them perform less well than they could.

    While on paper, Americans declare all persons are created equal, students know in practice this is not so.  Our pupils experience separate is not equal.  Even when “shipped” to schools far from home, they remain detached.  Their personalities are split.  They are the poor mingling amongst the rich.  An education helps; nonetheless, it does not eradicate the deeper divide.

    Discrimination is visible and it is our veracity.  Those that we judge harshly are characteristically the poorest among us.  Frequently and subtly, we deny these individuals their rights, and provide little so that they might achieve their dreams.  They huddle in hovels and call these home.

    Academics argue there is no need for a poor population.  Nonetheless, their perception of why one exists is as skewed as efforts to eliminate poverty are.  What is pervasive is too easily accepted, even expected.  Expert, scholarly opinions, I believe, do not consider the whole or a truth.  It seems what is too real for many is beyond the intellectuals’ ability to grasp.  I offer one authors reading of the problem, and an answer I find troublesome,

    A theorist, a scholar, and a Fellow at the Hoover Institute at Stanford University, Dinesh D’Souza, writes in an article titled, Why Are There Poor People?

    Mister D’Souza acknowledges and accepts the impoverished are victims of a collective configuration that does not reward them.  He states . . .

    The left-wing view is that poor people are the victims of unjust social structures.  Historically this view is sound.  Slavery, colonialism?these were oppressive institutions that prevented people from exercising their freedom and rising in society.

    The left-wing argument is also an accurate description of the situation in much of the Third World today.  If you take a train through the Indian countryside, you will see farmers beating their pickaxes into the ground, frail women wobbling under heavy loads, children carrying stones.  These people are working incredibly hard, yet they are getting nowhere.  The reason is that institutional structures are set up in such a way that creativity and effort don’t bring due reward.  No wonder the people in these countries are fatalistic.

    However, he continues, “institutional structures” that  keep the poor down do not exist in America.  Dinesh D’Souza states “capitalism and technology” provide opportunities for all.

    [I]n the West capitalism and technology have worked together to lift the vast majority of the population out of deprivation and up to a level of affluence that, in the words of novelist Tom Wolfe, would “make the Sun King blink.”

    So what about the underclass, the inner-city poor that we hear so much about? I agree: it is terrible to grow up in many parts of the Bronx, New York, or Anacostia, Washington DC, or South Central Los Angeles. But that?s not because of material poverty.  Rather, it?s because of the shocking moral behavior of the residents.  High crime rates, the crack trade, and the absence of stable families all work together to destroy the cultural ecosystem and make normal productive life so difficult in these communities.

    This is where the right-wing argument gathers force.  Conservatives contend that the bourgeois virtues of family stability, the work ethic, the respect for education and law are essential for individuals and groups to advance, and where those are jlacking, chaos is the predictable result.  The solution is to recognize that prosperity does not come naturally.

    Such is the attitude, the belief, and the perception of many in our society.  Numerous persons say, the poor do not avail themselves of the opportunities within the market place.  Capitalism offers chances for all.  However, I must inquire, do people of color, those of lesser means and little education, truly have the same prospects the prosperous do.

    I observe that not all in the Western world have benefited from free enterprise; nor do each of us have access to technology.  Entrepreneurship is but a dream for those that have little education and few funds.  People that experience discrimination because of their color or perceived background lack hope. 

    In America, for hundreds of thousands skills are lacking.  Millions of people living in this country are illiterate or not well versed in disciplines that might help them climb from the clutches of poverty.  “Equipment” is not evenly distributed.  In impoverished areas, children are fortunate to have textbooks and teachers that care.  Richer areas [are] more successful in attracting qualified teachers.

    I must ask, if I am born to a welfare mother, a woman that is poor, or not white, will I have an equal chance to succeed.  We know that schools and society discriminate against those whose flesh is darker and those of lesser means.

    If my father had to work as a child to support his family, and therefore, never had the time let alone energy to complete school, am I likely to do well.  If my guardian must work long hours, doing manual labor in order to provide me with food and shelter will she or he be available to assist me with my homework.  Will they be in the room with me when I need reassurance or feel discouraged.  If they are will, they be able to honestly tell me “Everything will be all right, it always is.”

    Can a parent that has little knowledge of schoolwork or experience learning through scientific method teach me the habits that might benefit me, or society?  A child born into poverty does not hope or dream of succeeding as other children do.

    Discrimination leaves a legacy. The harmful effects of segregated schooling and similar forms of discrimination will continue to persist for several decades, studies show.  These effects can persist as a family link: children whose grandparents? educational achievement was limited or restricted may not enjoy the benefits of a family that values or encourages rigorous academics. Such values may simply not be a part of the family?s culture, partly because past discrimination inhibited the grandparents? achievement.  Moreover, other forms of discrimination, such as in housing or employment, can also negatively impact a child?s educational opportunities.

    Home and community learning opportunities are critical. In general, minority children are less likely than white children to have parents with high levels of educational attainment. This factor, together with others such as lower family income and parents? work schedules, may limit the extent to which parents can foster positive opportunities for learning at home, Author of the Center on Education Policy’s report, It Takes More Than Testing: Closing the Achievement Gap, [Nancy] Kober claims. Hence, opportunities such as having access to books and computers?or even being read to before bedtime?may be more limited for minority children. Also, it is an established fact that high-minority and high-poverty communities tend to enjoy less access to such resources as libraries and museums that can benefit children. Finally, if the family speaks a language other than English at home, that can also affect a child?s learning opportunities.

    Good parenting practices need to be encouraged. Parental approaches to learning at home differ, and cultural variations undoubtedly play a role in children?s learning and achievement. However, the most effective practices should be encouraged, although more research is necessary to determine which do provide the greatest benefits.

    Contrary to the beliefs Dinesh D’Souza professes, only in rare cases does a blood relation or guardian teach criminal behavior.  Most mothers and fathers have the best of intentions.  Parents do not work to raise felons.  No matter what their background, color, or creed people have ethics and values, customs, and traditions.  Humans have emotions; they feel for their children.  Moms and Dads want their children to achieve the accolades they did not.

    Frustrations breed the social structure that inhibits achievement.  All the computers, cameras, telephones, and televisions in the world cannot provide the connection a parent might.  Technology cannot substitute for the tender, caring, touch of a Mom or Dad.

    However, in a country where massive amounts of money are a must in order to maintain a menial subsistence, parents may not be as profound an influence as they might be.  They may not be the best role models. 

    Nonetheless, a child can turn to another adult for guidance and quality instruction.  Perchance a teacher in a good school will stimulate the mind and rekindle a heart starving for attention.  Parents, not your own might help to involve an expectant pupil.  That was the hope in the districts intent on initiating socioeconomic diversity.

    The purpose of such programs is twofold. Since income levels often correlate with race, they can be an alternate and legal way to produce racial integration. They also promote achievement gains by putting poorer students in schools that are more likely to have experienced teachers and students with high aspirations, as well as a parent body that can afford to be more involved.

    ?There is a large body of evidence going back several years,? Mr. Kahlenberg said, “that probably the most important thing you can do to raise the achievement of low-income students is to provide them with middle-class schools.”

    Economic integration initiatives differ from each other, and from many traditional integration efforts that relied on mandatory transfer of students among schools. Some of the new initiatives involve busing but some do not; some rely on student choice, while some also use a lottery. And so it is difficult to measure how far students travel or how many students switch schools.

    The most ambitious effort and the example most often cited as a success is in the city of Raleigh, N.C., and its suburbs.

    For seven years, the district has sought to cap the proportion of low-income students in each of the county?s 143 schools at 40 percent.

    To achieve a balance of low- and middle-income children, the district encourages and sometimes requires students to attend schools far from home. Suburban students are attracted to magnet schools in the city; children from the inner city are sometimes bused to middle-class schools at the outer edges of Raleigh and in the suburbs.

    The achievement gains have been sharp, and school officials said economic integration was largely responsible. Only 40 percent of black students in grades three through eight in Wake County, where Raleigh is located, scored at grade level on state reading tests in 1995. By the spring of 2006, 82 percent did.

    “The plan works well,” said John H. Gilbert, a professor emeritus at North Carolina State University in Raleigh who served for 16 years on the county school board and voted for the plan. “It’s based on sound assumptions about the environment in which children learn.”

    While this is impressive, and validates that those of any background can and will improve given quality education, the truer problem, for me, is not eradicated.  Will these Black students find a way to enter college.  Might they cultivate a career that will ensure financial success.  If they are able to accomplish much, when they walk down the street will they be accepted as a wealthy white person would be.  Might a person of color have the same prospects their Caucasian brethren do.  Probably not.

    If we continue, as we have, competing in a free market society will not be possible when the color of your skin is not white.  The wad of bills in your pocket may help; however, perceptions too often take precedence. 

    Before an American child enters the workplace, where supposedly, opportunity abounds.  They must obtain an education.  We place a huge burden on our children if we remain separate as a society.  We can bus our offspring, and perhaps we may have to until parents learn to adjust.  However, asking our young to sit idly for hours while they travel to a world not their own gives rise to other issues.  The most obvious is the plight of the poor.

    As long as we, in the United States continue to have poor neighborhoods, we will have institutions that help sustain the cycle of poverty.  If we send all the underprivileged to the better neighborhoods, who will attend the remaining pitiable properties intended to educate our youth?  Why would we need facilities that favor no one.  Indeed, why do we need communities that propagate a truth that we do not endorse, poverty.

    Let us replace the myth that only hinders civilization as a whole.  Discard what defines our youth and even their elders as deprived .  They, we, are not Black or white, rich or poor, alien or native, advanced or behind.  We are individuals; we must furnish all with what they need to thrive. 

    As Danish Philosopher Soren Kierkegaard cautions, “Once you label me, you negate me.”

    If as a culture we expect Black and Hispanic children to live in low-income families, they will.  If their parents are not educated well, or accepted into society, the children will be less likely to live in neighborhoods that nurture an innate desire to learn.  We must be willing to integrate our neighborhoods, and truly provide the means for all our citizens to live as equals.

    We need to ask ourselves, do we truly wish to endorse a system where everyone is equal.  If so, let us begin to embrace the challenge and create the structure our forefathers’ spoke of.  If we do not we will continue to look for solutions that shift the responsibility to our children. 

    I believe we can live and succeed as a Union.  We need only invest authentically in our offspring, all of them, and more importantly in ourselves.

    If we decide not to fear our fellow man or see him or her as an alien, a stranger, the enemy, or someone we would not wish to be part of our family, then divisions will exist no more.

    Diversity need not be our undoing.  Please let us look at the United States Constitution and allow the principles that guide us to be our truth.  Might we make this country great and preserve our integrity.  We are one and all.

    When you grow up in a totally segregated society,
    where everybody around you believes that segregation is proper,
    you have a hard time.
    You can’t believe how much it’s a part of your thinking.”

    Shelby Foote [Historian, Novelist]

    Poor Schools, Poor Neighborhoods, A Sad State of Affairs . . .

  • School Diversity Based on Income Segregates Some, By Jonathan D. Glater and Alan Finder.  The New York Times. July 15, 2007
  • pdf School Diversity Based on Income Segregates Some, By Jonathan D. Glater and Alan Finder.  The New York Times. July 15, 2007
  • Parents Involved In Community Schools versus Seattle School District Number 1  Supreme Court Of the United States.
  • Divided Court Limits Use of Race by School Districts, By Robert Barnes.  Washington Post.  Friday, June 29, 2007; Page A01
  • pdf Divided Court Limits Use of Race by School Districts, By Robert Barnes. Washington Post.  Friday, June 29, 2007; Page A01
  • Parents involved in Community Schools versus Seattle School District Number 1. Supreme Court of the United States. June 28, 2007
  • It Takes More Than Testing: Closing the Achievement Gap. A Report of the Center on Education Policy. By Nancy Kober.  Center on Education Policy.  Educational Resources Information Center.
  • lliteracy: An Incurable Disease or Education Malpractice? The National Right to Read Foundation.
  • Richer areas more successful in attracting qualified teachers.  USA Today. April 24, 2006
  • The Poor Are Losing Their Privacy In San Diego

    copyright © 2007 Possum Ponders.  Sedalia Tales

    Once again we see the human rights of the poor taken away just because they are poor and dependent on the state.  A report taken from the NYTimes (behind the subscriber firewall) gives the facts of the case which originates in San Diego, California.  In that fair city poor people who want public benefits are left without personal privacy.

    Investigators from the district attorney’s office there make unannounced visits to the homes of people applying for welfare, poking around in garbage cans, medicine chests and laundry baskets.

    Of course the recipients of government largesse are not required to let the investigators into their homes and into their lives, but refusal ends their benefits.  How many of us live without some measure of government benefit such as tax relief or other provision.  Just how many of us are going to open the sacred halls of our homes to such an invasion at any price?  Why are the poor left in this lurch?

    The Fourth Amendment to the American Constitution guarantees

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated

    yet the searches continue to this day. 

    “They’re looking for boxer shorts in a drawer,” said Jordan C. Budd, a law professor who represented the plaintiffs when he was legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union in San Diego. “They’re looking for medicine in a man’s name.

    Where does freedom end in this country?  How can this be?

    The county claims the searches and supervision are reasonable steps taken to reduce fraud.  Taking the case to court bought no relief for the victims.  A three judge panel ruled against the appeal saying

    people are free to opt out – by giving up their welfare benefits.

      That seems to be a pretty lousy excuse for a ruling.  At least one judge on the panel seemed to agree with my assessment calling that

    a false choice for an applicant desperate to feed her children.

    I wonder just how many government employees would be willing to give up their privacy in order to keep their jobs.  Or what about those judges who ruled against the case?  Maybe they’d like to have their trash and their home searched in order to keep their fancy homes and fine jobs.

    Inequality and discrimination abound in this country.  Discrimination in schools is returning as a a result of the recent SCOTUS.pdf decision in a Seattle case.  Now we hear more discrimination is being enforced against people whose only crime is to be poor.  Not that other crimes are not uncovered in the searches. 

    If they come across evidence of other crimes, like drug use or child abuse, they pass it along to the police and prosecutors.

    And again the Fourth Amendment is raped.

    Discrimination in all its forms must end in this country.  The Declaration of Independence declares

    certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    Our country was founded on principles of liberty and justice for ALL, not just the white ruling class.  No discrimination of any sort was written into those founding principles.

    Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their comrades.  We, the privileged class for the most part, need to take to the streets and to the airwaves and to the telephones to protest this egregious treatment of those who have less resources than we.  We can each one deliver at least some thoughts about this situation and push our Congress critters toward remedies.  We cannot let this situation linger.  Human rights are basic to all of humankind.  If we allow situations like this one to persist we stand to lose our humanity once and for all.

    Thanksgiving. Will Our Past, Our Present Be Prologue? ©

    As the celebration continues and the cynicism mounts, a delivery was made to me.  I thank William S. Burroughs for his Thanksgiving Prayer.  I am grateful to bzbb of My Left Wing fame.  S/he shared the text and resource with me. 

    After reading my Thanksgiving story of genocide, some decided that they knew I loathe the holiday; I do not.  I do have disdain for humans that knowingly hurt other humans.  I am disquieted when I realize that man, woman, or child intentionally commits crimes against nature.

    When people speak against “evil” and then act in ways that I think they might deem “sinful” I am confused.  While, I personally do not believe in either concept, I wonder why those that do think these constructs are valid behave in ways that could be defined as wicked.

    As I listen to William Burroughs and read the text of his musings, I am miffed.  What are we giving thanks for on this the fourth Thursday in November?  What do we welcome in the days that follow?  I offer the Burroughs prayer so that we all might ponder.

    Thanksgiving Prayer
    By William S Burroughs [1914 to 1997]
    American Novelist, Essayist, and Social Critic

    Thanks for the wild turkey and the passenger pigeons,
    Destined to be shit out through wholesome American guts.
    Thanks for a continent to despoil and poison.
    Thanks for Indians to provide a modicum of challenge and danger.
    Thanks for vast herds of bison to kill and skin leaving the carcasses to rot.
    Thanks for bounties on wolves and coyotes.
    Thanks for the American dream,?
    To vulgarize and to falsify until the bare lies shine through.
    Thanks for the KKK.
    For n****r-killin’ lawmen feelin’ their notches.
    For decent church-goin’ women, with their mean, pinched, bitter, evil faces.
    Thanks for “Kill a Queer for  Christ” stickers.
    Thanks for laboratory AIDS.
    Thanks for Prohibition and the  war against drugs.
    Thanks for a country where nobody’s allowed to mind the own business.
    Thanks for a nation of finks.
    Yes, thanks for all the memories– all right let’s see your arms!
    You always were a headache and you always were a bore.
    Thanks for the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams.

    I cannot thank William Seward Burroughs II enough.  My mind would never travel in the places his did.  However, perchance, you dear reader might relate.

    If nothing else, I think this performance might provoke a deeper pondering.  I invite each of us to reflect, to meditate, and contemplate, what does Thanksgiving Day mean to us.  What does the holiday season connote?

    How might our past relate to our present and what will our future be.

    “Those who forget the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them.”
    ~ George Santanya

    “What’s past is prologue.”
    ~ William Shakespeare

    Consider Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and Korea.  Is there talk of occupation or might we overthrow regime after regime? 

    Contemplate racial profiling.  Does the Patriot Act make this legal. 

    Look within your local cities.  Are there slums, ghettos, gangs, and girls walking the streets to make a decent wage?  Perhaps, workingwomen are not the only ones looking for work.  There are those that lost their employ so long ago they are no longer counted by government tallies.  They dropped off the rolls, and have since dropped out of sight.  In actuality, these persons are still visible; look out your window.  There they are, on the avenue. 

    Are Blacks treated as whites; are the rich revered, are the poor?

    What of women; what of immigrants?

    Might we recall the Native Americans and the wilderness that welcomed our forefathers?  What became of these?

    What occurs in your home or that of your neighbors?  Is communication prevalent in your abode, or in that of those living adjacent to you?  Is care evident and flourishing or is this concept one you and others crave, but only dream of.  I wonder. 

    What did you give thanks for yesterday and what will you be grateful for tomorrow?

    Thanksgiving.  The Past, Present, and Pondering

  • Burroughs. By bzbb. My Left Wing. Friday, November 24, 2006
  • William S. Burroughs – Thanksgiving Prayer.
  • Practice to Deceive Chaos in the Middle East is not the Bush hawks’ nightmare scenario–it’s their plan. By Joshua Micah Marshall. Washington Monthly. April 2003
  • US Patriot Act. American Civil Liberties Union. November 14, 2003
  • Streetgangs.
  • Ghettos: The Changing Consequences of Ethnic Isolation, By Ed Glaeser.  Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Spring 1997
  • Living Wage, Facts at a Glance. The Economic Policy Institute. 2006
  • Jobs Picture, November 2006. The Economic Policy Institute. 2006
  • The Two Nations of Black America. Frontline. Public Broadcasting Services
  • The Rich Get Richer. The Washington Post. Tuesday, April 12, 2005
  • Income Inequity. The Real Reason the Rich Get Richer. ©  By Betsy L. Angert.
  • Women’s History in America.?Presented By Women’s International Center
  • Poverty in America, One Nation Pulling Apart. Poverty in America Project
  • The World Confronts Its E-waste Nightmare. By Tam Harbert.  Natural Resources Defense Council Fall 2006
  • Talking Turkey, Eating Shit and Taking the Heat, By starkravinglunaticradical.  Booman Tribune. November 24, 2005
  • Immigrants’ Rights. American Civil Liberties Union
  • The Natural History of Neighborhood Violence, By Jeffrey Fagan, Columbia University and Garth Davies, Simon Fraser University.  Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, SAGE Publications Vol. 20, No. 2, 127-147.  2004
  • Communication. By Stefanie Cox, Larry Graber, Gregory Olson, Peacemakers. Better Endings, New Beginnings
  • Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High.  By Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler.  McGraw-Hill Trade. June 2002
  • Give Thanks for Genocide. Thanksgiving, National Day of Mourning © By Betsy L. Angert.
  • Income Inequity. The Real Reason the Rich Get Richer. ©

    Income inequity has been in the news of late; disparity is increasing.  Jared Bernstein, of the Economic Policy Institute, wrote of this in,  “The Catch-Up Economy.”  Paul Krugman, a writer-economist for the New York Times shared his views in “Left Behind Economics.”  Economics Professor J. Bradford DeLong comments on the subject.  However, it seems to me that the views of these learned economists are limited.  While assessing the statistics, I think experts miss the substance, what lies behind simple “economic” causes and effects.

    For years, scholars have discussed whether the situation has changed or remained the same.  They discuss cause and effects.  Intellectuals say the middle class is shrinking.  The prosperous are not growing capital as expected.  The “super-rich” are becoming wealthier.  Academicians and regular Americans alike wonder, what are we to do?

    Welfare is reformed and the results are devastating.  Proposals are submitted to increase the minimum wage.  Yet, this solution was too little too late.  It was also tied to amendments that would ravage federal revenues and thankfully, or not, the measure did not pass.  People ponder the discrepancy between rich and poor as though it were unusual; however, for me, this subject is not a novel one.

    It has been on my mind for as long as I can remember.  I was born into a household of means; however, the family that cared for me, the people I felt closest to lived the inner city.  I spent much time traveling from one neighborhood to the other.  The disparity was striking.  As a child, I began to theorize, what caused such a discrepancy.  Why were the rich so prosperous and the poor so impoverished?  Why did they not intermingle freely?

    Being intimately a part of two very different worlds simultaneously, my mind was stimulated; questions flooded my reality.  Fortunately, I was encouraged to think about my concerns and ask of these.  My earliest memory was of the streets, which ones were used when and by whom.  I was well aware that freeways were the preferred passageways for the affluent.  Expressways allowed for a free-flow of traffic.  There were few if any visual distractions.  The highways were walled off from the city.  Slums were not seen; nor were those living there heard from.  As the affluent passed through town, all was a blur.

    Those with lower incomes were more likely found on the slower urban streets.  I often heard how dangerous the metropolitan thoroughfares were.  Yet, I played on those avenues when with my second family.  I lived there for days at a time.  People were always pleasant to me.  There was a sense of community in these ghetto boulevards.  Still, the well-off avoided these roadways.  I concluded the rich did not wish to see the poor.  They did not want to be reminded of what they had created and allowed to flourish.

    The moneyed preferred to believe that all were thriving, just as they were; thus, they created a world that allowed them their beliefs.  However, in truth a large portion of society was barely able to survive.  In fact, I think the affluent knew this, and purposely, conveniently chose to ignore it.  They knew that they had imposed their reality on the poorer public in order to prosper.

    The rich understood they needed the poor to serve them.  A less-well-informed, undereducated, underprivileged population could and would meet the needs of the affluent.  Those born with silver spoons in their mouths trusted that they would associate with the proper people.  They would be groomed, breed, and grow greater.  The rich would learn how to build empires and indeed, they have.

    It is my contention that the most affluent among us centuries ago established a system that they knew was flawed; nevertheless, it endured.  I think, the idea of scarcity, supply and demand breeds a world divided.  This economic theory presumes there is only so much to go around; resources are limited.  Therefore, those that have, horde, and those without, want.  All are dissatisfied, thinking there is never enough, though in truth, there is.

    Man creates deficits and depletes resources; nature replenishes continually.

    For the most part, the poor have been unwittingly satisfied to just pass.  In earlier eons, the poor and middle class were not punished so severely for their station.  There was a time when those of lesser means still had hope and some were able to do well and move out of poverty, though their numbers were always kept in check.

    A modicum of security, with the potential for limited growth quelled the masses.  As a consequence of the freight experienced during the Great Depression Americans embraced the approach of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  Even the wealthy were willing to accept the initiation of Public Work programs.  More people were able to have a scrap of safety.  After all, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

    As revealed by Journalist Teresa Tritch in The Rise of the Super-Rich,

    In post-World War II America, between 1947 and the early 1970’s, all income groups shared in the nation’s economic growth.  Poor families actually had a higher growth in real annual income than other groups.

    Still, they remained humble and subservient.  Most felt well taken care of.  Businesses offered benefits, and the government was a supposed friend, or so it seemed.  Employees were loyal to those that served them, not realizing, in truth, they, the laborers were servicing the master.  For without a working force there was no wealth for the entrepreneur.

    In those post-World War II years, labor and productivity increased.  Workers produced more materials.  Corporations were generous with their profits.  The economy grew and entrepreneurs were willing to share.  Actually, the government demanded this.

    Government policies worked to ensure that productivity gains translated into more pay for Americans at all levels, including regular increases in the minimum wage and greater investment in the social safety net . . . Full employment was also a government priority.

    Fair wages, generous salaries, and reasonable benefits were given to employees.  Laborers were recognized for their worth.  A happy worker is and was a good worker.  A satisfied staff would serve the customers well.  The businessmen and women would benefit; corporate owners would reap the greatest rewards.

    In those years, unions were a driving force.  Workers had bargaining power.  Of course, that was before the Reagan reign, and prior to his presidential dictums, those that promoted union busting.

    Then beginning in the

    mid-1970’s until 1995, the trend reversed.  The gap between the rich and poor widened at a rapid clip.  The upper echelons ?” generally the top 20 percent of American households ?” experienced steady gains, while families in the bottom 40 percent were faced with declining or stagnating incomes.

    Once again the planets were aligned, or at least an ancient economic theory was.

    For centuries, there was a well-known belief that twenty percent of the population owned eighty percent of the wealth.  In 1906 one man, Italian Economist Vilfredo Pareto created a mathematical formula to describe the unequal distribution of dollars that he observed within his own country.  Later that code would be named the Pareto’s Principle.  This principle presupposed that there was only a given amount of assets.  These limited treasures must be divided among the masses.  However, because the supply was small and the rich already retained much of the wealth that was, there was little leftover for those of lesser means.  As the population increased the prosperous became more so; they understood the rule of 72.

    This canon is evident in recent reports.

    Rich people are also being made richer, recent government data shows, by strong returns on investment income.  In 2003, the latest year for which figures are available, the top 1 percent of households owned 57.5 percent of corporate wealth, generally [realized as] dividends, and capital gains, up from 53.4 percent a year earlier.

    The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington think tank, compared the latest data from Mr. Piketty and Mr. Saez to comprehensive reports on income trends from the Congressional Budget Office.  Every way it sliced the data, it found a striking share of total income concentrated at the top of the income ladder as of 2004.

    • The top 10 percent of households had 46 percent of the nation’s income, their biggest share in all but two of the last 70 years.

    • The top 1 percent of households had 19.5 percent (see graph).

    • The top one-tenth of 1 percent of households actually received nearly half of the increased share going to the top 1 percent.

    Whether we speak of centuries past or the present, the poor continue to pound the pavement.  They were, and are, searching for their lump of salt.

    In America, the Puritan work ethic feed and feeds the folly of scarcity, sacrifice, and service well.  The standard suggests

    a Calvinist value emphasizing the necessity of constant labor in one’s calling as a sign of personal salvation.  Protestants beginning with Martin Luther had re-conceptualized work as a duty in the world for the benefit of the individual and society as a whole.  The Catholic idea of good “works” was transformed into an obligation to work diligently as a sign of grace.

      However, few noticed that the most well-off worked little.  They had and have servants, slaves, and subordinates.  For many of the moneyed, wealth was and is handed down.  The truly well-to-do worked and labor little; yet it was believed and thought true today, they are superior and certainly would be well received at the Pearly Gates.

    It was and is the majority population, the masses that labor diligently.  The poor and the middle class hope to get ahead.  At least they yearn to stay solvent.  The middle and lower classes sweat, they slave, they survive, and looked forward to salvation.  They do this while the wealthiest continue to reap greater gains from their toil [capital gains.]

    It seems obvious that the populace has adopted a misleading notion, that there is only so much to go around, or they believe that they must pay their dues before they can prosper.  It seems to me that people, for the most part accept their station, and expect others to recognize theirs.

    Those of color, minority races, ethnicities, or creeds rarely are given opportunities to excel; nor do they truly and deeply believe they will be able to do so in a society such as ours.  Individuals in the middle, as few as there are nowadays, are gratified when they have enough.  They expect little more than meets their needs.  They have been taught not to crave more than creature comforts.  They learned their lessons well.  The wealthiest among us are the masses mentors.

    In 1906, Italy, and in America today, I think poverty is imposed.  Scarcity is supported; the idea of abundance for all is avoided, intentionally.

    I have actually heard many prosperous persons speak of their need and desire to keep the poor, poor.  Thus, I present my personal theory for your “consumption.”  I think until we truly address the issue of attitudes, and more importantly, the perception of scarcity, nothing will change.

    I believe this myth was originated within the world to preserve opulence for the few.  The fable has long been maintained by “superior” beings.  The blue-bloods believe they are deserving.  Thus, they deem it just.  The poor and impoverished must sacrifice their souls while working in meaningless jobs; they must spill their blood while the rich wage war and they do.

    I proclaim the legend is not true.  There is abundance for all.  Let us look at nature.

    If we enter the ocean and exit with a bucket full of water, we will leave no hole.  The space we made will be filled instantly.  If we scoop up a pail of sand, no void will be visible.  Within minutes the wind, the water, and Mother Nature herself will replenish what we took away.  Granted we can strip the land naked.  Nevertheless, we cannot kill it, though human beings certainly try.

    A polluted pond will produce algae in abundance.  Life grows.  A concrete highway will not seal away the weeds.  Look between the cracks.  Consider the bugs, the vermin, and viruses.  Man tries to kill these; yet, they never truly die.  More emerge where others once existed.

    You may question my thinking and suggest our limited supply of oil.  I offer this.  Were it not for man’s spoils, his need to accelerate the depletion/reproduction cycle within his surroundings, the Earth would be replenishing the petroleum supply.  Actually, it is.  We simply steal from the source before it can create greater resources.

    The super rich have created the illusion of scarcity and we all believe it.  They have sold society this package of goods and we buy it.  Those that live lavishly have created a civilization of consumerism.  They need us and we want to be them.

    However, contrary to popular belief, I think a world of disparity devastates our social order.  I have little complaint for the rich getting richer.  I struggle with the poor getting poorer, and the comfortable middle becoming less so.  Again, I contend there is abundance for us all.

    I invite you to explore.  Please take some time to assess life, the real world of plenty, and the artificial world of scarcity.  Observe it from an alternative perspective.  I ask you to be cogent; are you accepting and expecting less because you were taught, “you should.”

    Please witness nature and absorb the wisdom.  Watch the plants, the animals, the insects, the water, the sand, and see for yourself.  Ponder the prospect.  Were it not for the influence of man would resources be in balance, reproducing and reducing only to ensure stability and beauty?  I think they would.  Oh, what we do and have done.  Then we wonder why is there income inequity.  We continually create it.

    ~ You may enjoy discussions on the New York Times article, Real Wages Fail to Match a Rise in Productivity, By Steven Greenhouse and David Leonhardt. August 28, 2006.
    • Brad DeLong offers, Greenhouse and Leonhardt on Real Wages and Productivity
    • Max Sawicky presents The Poverty of Pedantry
    • Mark Thoma tenders Paul Krugman: Wages, Wealth and Politics

    Plunge into Poverty, Pass into a Life of Simple Pleasures, or Seek the Land of Plenty . . .

    The Catch-Up Economy, By Jared Bernstein. The Economic Policy Institute. August 22, 2006
    Left Behind Economics; [Op-Ed], ByPaul Krugman. New York Times. July 14, 2006
    Jared Bernstein, Economic Policy Institute.
    The Official Paul Krugman Web Page
    J. Bradford DeLong
    Pulling Apart, A State-by-State Analysis of Income Trends. By Jared Bernstein, Elizabeth McNichol, Karen Lyons. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and The Economic Policy Institute. January 2006
    Driving Forces Behind Rising Income Inequality: Tracking the Internet Debate, By Brad DeLong, Economist. August 20, 2006
    Welfare Deform — A Sad Anniversary, By Robert Reich, Former Secretary of Labor. August 23, 2006
    Real Wages Fail to Match a Rise in Productivity, By Steven Greenhouse and David Leonhardt. New York Times. August 28, 2006
    The Rise of the Super-Rich, By Teresa Tritch. New York Times.July 19, 2006
    Wages, Wealth And Politics; [Op-Ed], ByPaul Krugman. New York Times. August 18, 2006
    Paul Krugman: Wages, Wealth and Politics, By Mark Thoma. Economist’s View. August 18, 2006
    Rural Oregon Town Feels Pinch of Poverty, By Erik Eckholm. New York Times. August 20, 2006
    As rich-poor gap widens in U.S., class mobility stalls,By David Wessel, The Wall Street Journal. Friday, May 13, 2005
    Protestant Work Ethic. Wikipedia.
    Scarcity. Wikipedia.
    Dividend and Capital Gains Tax Cuts Unlikely to Yield Touted Economic Gains, By Joel Friedman. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Revised October 7, 2005
    Pareto’s Principle – The 80-20 Rule. About.
    The Rule of 72, By Joshua Kennon. About.
    Supply and Demand. Internet Center for Management and Business Administration, Incorporated.
    Economics Basics: Demand and Supply Investopedia Incorporated.
    “The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More”,The 98 Percent Rule. By Chris Anderson. USA Today. July 11, 2006
    Richest Are Leaving Even the Rich Far Behind, By David Cay Johnston. New York Times. June 5, 2005

    Watts Revisited. Forty Years Later, Dreams Deferred ©

    “Forty years later, the schools in this part of town are among the lowest achieving anywhere in the city.
    Forty years later, the unemployment rate is the highest of anywhere in the city.”
    Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

    August 11, 2005 was the anniversary of the infamous Watts riots.  There were celebrations, an acknowledgment that time had passed.  Yet, for most living in this area, time has stood still.  There was little or nothing to celebrate.  Life in the neighborhood is virtually the same. For those living in this Los Angeles community, some forty years have gone by and little has changed.

    The Watts area, a section of South Central Los Angeles, is still symbolic of life in the “slums” of America.  Poverty leads to greater poverty.

    Conditions today are as they were in August 1965, horrendous.  Then, more than half the residents were unemployed.  One quarter of the households were receiving welfare.  In 2005, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa suggests circumstances are similar.

    Forty years ago, landlords were absent. Property-owners were typically white, well off, and would not want to be seen in such a slum.  Most residents lived in squalor.  Rat and roach invested homes were the “norm.”  Leaking roofs, cracked walls, and poor plumbing were common.  Buildings were not maintained. The idea of repairs, restoration, and renovation were whimsy.  These did not happen.

    Public transportation was not available in this part of town.  Residents were required to walk more than a mile merely to find employment, go to their jobs, or to purchase goods.  Shopkeepers, businessmen, and bankers took advantage of this.  Prices were higher and quality much lower in poverty stricken neighborhoods.  Interest rates were also adjusted; these did not favor a struggling clientele.

    Racial discrimination was rampant.  The police were suspicious of all Black citizens.  Surveillance was strong; law enforcement was always watching and waiting for African-Americans to do wrong. Police brutality was acceptable and occurred frequently.

    For local residents life was a struggle.  Surviving was barely possible; thriving was fantasy.  The Black population could not gain access to capital. Beginning a business venture was next to impossible. Improving one’s station in life was not even a dream.

    People in Watts felt as though they had no control over their own destiny. Resources were limited.  Negro’s were not represented in city government. African-American citizens had no power.  Though the right to vote was finally awarded to Black citizens in 1965, there was no reason to believe that things would different.

    In 2005, there are slight differences; however, life still looks grim!  Look for your self.  Read and reflect upon the following statistics. These numbers come from the Los Angeles Youth Opportunity Movement.

    • In Watts, 22 percent are unemployed.  In other areas of Los Angeles the percentage is less than 7.
    • Employed residents typically work in low-skilled and low paying positions. In other areas of the city the numbers differ.  Most are gainfully employed in areas that require greater education, expertise, and pay a better wage.
    • 32 percent in the Watts residents work in production, transportation, or material moving occupations. In the city of Los Angeles only 15 percent work in similar circumstances.
    • Service occupations support much of Watts.  Rarely are residents found in professional and specialized stations.

    Educational attainment in Watts is lower on average than it is in any other area of Los Angeles. Upward motion and motivation are nil.  In some respects, numbers are declining.
    • The percentage of adults earning at least a Bachelor of Arts degree increased by only one percentage point from 1990 to 2000.
    • As of the 2000 census, 3 percent of adults in Watts have earned a BA degree; in the City of Los Angeles, 26percent of had achieved this feat.
    • 64percent of adults in this community do not have a high school diploma.
    • Nearly 40% of the adults in Watts have less than a 9th grade education.

      This number is 5 percent higher than in years past. Some speculate that this is a reflection of an increase in the immigrant population.

    • Currently, more than 30 percent of the population is foreign-born.
    • Ten years ago, only 7.5 percent of Watts’ residents were immigrants.
    • 76 percent of immigrants now living in Watts arrived in this country within the past 20 years.
    • The population is no longer predominantly Black.
    • In 1990, the community was 58 percent Black and 43 percent Latino.
    • By 2000, 61 percent of the population was Latino, and 38 percent was Black.

    • The median household income was $19,600 in 2000.
    • In the city of Los Angeles median household incomes were twice as high.
    • Per capita income in South Central Watts was $6,800 in 2000
    • In the city as a whole, inhabitants earned $20,700.
    • 46 percent of the persons living in Watts reluctantly embraced poverty.
    • Less than 23 percent in the city of Los Angeles, live in poverty.
    • 59 percent of children under 18 live in impoverished circumstances in South Central, Watts.
    •  In Los Angeles proper, the number of children under 18 living in poverty is 31 percent.
    • 24 percent of area households or half of the Watts’ citizenry received public assistance in 2000.

    Housing in Watts is more affordable than it is in the city as a whole.
    • The average median rent is just $491 per month, 27 percent less than median rent in the city.
    • Buildings in the area are about the same age as those in the rest of the city, averaging about 42 years old.
    • By HUD definition, homes and apartments are severely overcrowded.
    • 28 percent live in what homes classified as severely overcrowded, 56 percent higher than the city’s rate.
    • The vacancy rate is very high.  This contrast is considered classic in area with slum and blight conditions.
    • Watts is a renter’s community; 64 percent of households rent their residence.
    • Residents of Watts tend to stay.  Upward mobility is not the standard.
    Homeownership rates are low, the population lacks wealth and assets.

    In 1965, circumstances such as these caused great frustration.  Riots were the result.  Is another rebellion possible?  Absolutely.

    Forty years ago, there was a glimmer of hope.  Former President Lyndon Baines Johnson promoted and proposed laws that that would advance the American Dream.  He spoke of creating a “Great Society,” ending poverty, promoting equality, improving education, rejuvenating cities, and protecting the environment. Programs were initiated. However, hope died as the Dream was left behind, as was Watts was left behind.

    Now four decades later, we are asked to believe again.  Novice Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa proposes change.  He presents his dream.  He calls it the South Los Angeles Investment Initiatives project.  He says, “These initiatives will not transform Watts overnight, but what they demonstrate is a commitment to every part of the city, a commitment to a part of the city, Watts, where a dream has been deferred.”

    Can we trust, or will this dream be as the American Dream was, delayed, distilled, and ultimately destroyed. We cannot know with certainty; however, we can hope, again.  We can decide to make a difference.  We can choose to allow this dream to thrive.

    You might enjoy reading references directly, rather than through links.  Please venture forth.
    Los Angeles Youth Opportunity Movement
    Los Angeles Times, A truth buried in the ruins of Watts, by Kay S. Hymowitz
    Los Angeles Times, Renewed Focus on Watts’ Lessons, by Patrick McGreevy and Jessica Gresko
    The Washington Post, Burned, Baby, Burned. Watts and the Tragedy of Black America, by John McWhorter