The single biggest impediment to education in the lower socio-economic class are
the parents of the children in question. As Bill Cosby put it, "They're
standing on the corner and they can't speak English. I can't even talk
the way these people talk: Why you ain't, Where you is, What he drive,
Where he stay, Where he work, Who you be... And I blamed the kid until I heard
the mother talk. And then I heard the father talk. Everybody knows it's
important to speak English except these knuckleheads. You can't be a doctor
with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth. In fact you will never get any
kind of job making a decent living. *** I am talking about these people who cry
when their son is standing there in an orange suit. Where were you when he was
2? Where were you when he was 12? *** People with their hats on backward, pants
down around the crack, isn't that a sign of something?""
-Bill Cosby May 17, 2004. It's worse today than ever.
Even though we might not like to admit it, but racial and socio-economic
discrimination appears well and alive in American society today. The resources
to equalize the opportunity for low-income students just doesn't exist to
really make that big a difference, one reason I resigned from the Salt Lake
School Board in the early 90s. The government role that might help to offer
most children an equitable lives has been effectively dismantled by
Conservatives thus effectively putting into place a two class society in our
Country. Only the rich have the necessary resources to provide their children
effective advancement through quality education.
Having grown up in a low income neighborhood, my observation is some of the
differences between success and failure is a lack of understanding of legal
rights, manners, negotiating skills, and how to be comfortable in a crowd
situation of those with more education and money. How many schools teach any of
these skills? Yes, knowledge of language, science, literature, etc. that is
taught in schools will help. It is not enough for them. The poor do not have
models in their own home and neighborhood to teach successful behavior in a work
Second comment on the book: "Outliers". One study found that the
difference between middle class and poor children was that poorer children were
more deferential to authority. A middle class 10 year old boy might go to a
doctor and ask question. Someone who is poor (and whose family has historically
been poor and deferential) will not.That makes a lot of difference
in terms of opening doors for yourself rather than being a victim.For all those who are worried about poverty, are there programs on the
internet where one can tutor people through Skype? I have participated in
tutoring programs in the poor parts of various cities. It was an eye-opener for
me and I had some influence for good.With Skype it might be possible
to do it without leaving home. I tutored a relative in physics and she did
exceptional in her high school with my help. She came from a poor family, but
her parents are teaching her to speak up for herself.Tutoring is
better than sitting in our comfortable middle class existence wringing our hands
about the polarization in our society.
I read a book recently called "Outliers". They did not identify race as
a direct reason for poverty. It is an indirect cause like this author stated.
The book was neutral on race. It said that hard work makes a difference. But
that is a cultural advantage. If you are from the Pearl River delta in China
where rice cultivation was big you may have the idiom in your family, "The
man who starts work before dawn 360 days a year will make his family
rich."FYI: Europe agriculture was based on growing wheat which
is less labor intensive than rice.The author cited the example of a
school in a poor part of New York City that ran for 10 hours a day instead of
six. The children who came were from poor families but they had fantastic
school performance. The author of this study talked about children having
opportunities for learning outside of school. Poor children and middle-class
children progress at the same rate in reading during the school year. The
middle-class children make a jump during the summer because they are reading at
Don't know about Baltimore, but I learned from 5 decades of working with
students with behavior problems that the common profile of males (black or
white) was:1. Biological father not in the home;2. Mother had her
first child as a teen (locking her into poverty)3. Child was a poor
reader. I could see learned and perhaps inherited tendencies passed
along to the children, including a lack of self-discipline; an disinclination to
delay gratification; a pattern of making excuses, shifting any blame, not taking
responsibility and avoiding accountability. Most male children
raised by a teen birth mother whose father is absent did a fine job. I was one.
Research those women and see what strengths they possess, what they are doing
right to have success and pass that on.
Raise the minimum wage. Most economists agree, doing so would lift millions out
Is the shocking college education statistic also by word of mouth through
fathers and uncles?
I saw nothing in this article about mentoring or about mixed income communities.
I came from a poor home but had the advantage that my parents believed very
strongly in education so that was instilled in me from day one. Next advantage
came when a boss in one of my first jobs encouraged me to start college and
enabled me to do so by offering an incentive. Classes that had a direct
relevance to my job would be paid for by the company. I was able to leverage
each class I took into pay raises and promotions which eased the burden of
paying for school. Eventually I graduated but safe to say it was a very
different path than the 4-year track my younger peers were taking. I live in an
older community that was originally built with the intent of a mixed income
community -- i.e., starter houses next to more expensive housing expected to be
purchased by more affluent. I think when a young person sees what is possible
and is able to dream they are instilled with the motivation to work hard to
achieve those dreams.
What this study tells me is that children of poor parents (single?) are not
taught the basic principles for economic success: delaying gratification,
sacrificing now for future benefit (in other words, don't sacrifice what
you want most for what you want now); investing time in school as opposed to
investing time in diversion; and not the least, the economics of thrift, which
many in the poor classes have not been taught, either. It's a skill our
ancestors who lived through the depression were not fully successful passing
down to the third and fourth generations. Our leaders in Congress certainly
don't seem to have learned those lessons.
I hope the measurement of breaking the cycle is not financial wealth. The
hardest part about being born into poverty is the condescending attitude of
others. I find comfort in knowing that the Creator and Savior of all mankind
chose to be born in lowly circumstances. Who knows what choices we made before
we were born? Of course if you don't believe in life before birth you are
pretty much back to square one. I have no doubt. When I went into the military I
was too scared to talk to officers. It is a much different story now.
It's not surprising a liberal sociologist jumps right to the race card in
conflict with his own data. Didn't his data say that children of poor
parents didn't do as well as children of middle-class families? Nothing was
said about children of poor black parents vs. children of poor white parents, or
maybe that data doesn't support his conclusions.Did I read that
right? There is discrimination in the unions? But...but... aren't they
Democrat supporters? Don't they reflect the Democrat philosophy? Perhaps
they need to clean their own house before they race-bait others.
This is a complex problem with no easy solutions. But, the income
redistribution and poverty plantation approach the liberals have imposed for the
last half century clearly has not only failed, but made things worse.Let's try these for starters:** Stay in school and graduate.
That requires attending school, and actually doing work and homework, and
developing a respect for authority, accountability and personal
responsibility.** Don't have children until you are married and
financially able to support them. Yes, this is contrary to the "if it feels
good do it; anything goes; not my responsibility" culture, but it is the
best solution for the children, if not appealing to multiple generations of
irresponsible parents.** Get a job. Any job. Get several jobs.
Work hard and earn your pay by showing up on time, prepared to work, and doing
more than your employer. That gets raises and promotions.** Learn
and speak and write standard English, not a foreign language, or ghetto slang.
Emulate successful people, not losers. (Bill Cosby!)** Go to
church. Any church. Religion adds values, moral guidance and compassion for
others instead of the valueless, clueless, selfishness of the impoverished
lifestyle.Strong and bitter medicine, but necessary.
High marks for the DN addressing issues of poverty and inequality. When I heard
that the DN was going national to help balance inaccuracies in media, I was
afraid that it would be more of some of their shallow, in-the-bubble look at
life. I was wrong. Keep it up.
"We need to invest in educational development and vocational
development......." Now there's an idea we've never tried.
(sarcasm on)(sarcasm off) I grew up in Southern California and there
was/is a pretty good junior college system that does not put the demands on
students that come if one is attending a major university. It does no good to
give scholarships to a University of California campus for instance, if one does
not come out of high school prepared for it. At the JC level, a person can
actually play catch up in two years of college and then transfer to a state
college for the final two years. Neither the JC or State college costs near
what one pays for major universities. At the JC level there was actually a
class (called math 005 in my day) that started with one plus one equals two, and
went on from there. After a semester a student then began algebra 1. Plus I
knew many minorities who were getting a lot of financial assistance, which is
available to them if they need it. The opportunities are there, what we need is
a way to motivate students to access them.