Friday, December 19, 2014

Way Wait So Long

I saw an article the other day listing all the funds that give scholarships to Black people in the United States. I have to objection to this. I do think more focus needs to be placed on children at elementary and intermediate school age. I think this may be where we are losing the most potential in the Black neighborhoods. I specify Black, because it directly addresses the article I referred to in my opening sentence, but the same things are true for all inner city children living in poor families, regardless of color.

I have been fortunate in my life. I grew up in lower middle class neighborhoods and went to neighborhood schools in towns, some of which have grown to become cities. This is different from inner city children in Houston, Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Detroit and many other large cities. I was lucky. I managed to get a high school education, spend a tour in the Army, then attended junior college and managed to graduate from a major college. I had a two parent home for most of the time when I was growing up. I had a place to sleep and food to eat. Sometimes transportation was difficult, but we managed. With my GI Bill funds, I was able to work and get a college education at affordable prices.

Today the situation is much worse. All the education grants from the federal government and charitable organizations giving scholarships have caused the price of a college education to skyrocket. In the long term, less people will get a college education than would have been able to before all the “free money” was available for college education. You can count on it -- every time, and I do mean every time, the government gives stuff away it has the opposite effect than what was intended.

I have tried to imagine many times what my situation would be, if I was raised in a poor neighborhood with parents that had no transportation and could not get to work. There is always a way to success and many people rise out of poverty and thrive. You hear a lot of stories about mothers working two or three jobs to feed the kids and get them to school. You read stories about people that spend many hours and walk many miles to get to a job, trying to improve their situation. Everyone does not have this kind of drive or willingness to work.

Personally, I have a tendency toward laziness, so I always had to push myself to improve my situation. Fortunately, I married a lady that would not accept the status quo and pushed me even harder toward something better than I would have achieved on my own. Like I said, I have been lucky.

These next paragraphs includes some assumptions I have about the plight of inner city children. This is not intended to disparage, but just an acknowledgement that I recognize there are some problems to overcome. One thing I know for sure, when you have nothing it is easy to fall into depression. Once you are there it is hard to get out of the depression on your own. Professional help has never really been an adequate answer. This is exactly the same scenario if there is no money. You cannot improve your situation without help. What is needed is a cadre of positive people around that display a positive attitude and a willingness to encourage a positive attitude in others.

If there is no money for food, certainly there is no money for transportation. Again, support is necessary -- not to solve their problem, but to give them hope and a hand up and encouragement to solve their own problems. When parents can get to work at a steady job, they cannot help but be proud of themselves and the children get to live with this example. I am in favor of a parent taking any job they can get and while they are working continue to look for a better job. After parents or just a parent gets steady employment, they should strive for better food, strive for better transportation and strive for a better outcome for their children.

I think what is being done to people in poverty is exacerbating the situation. Placing the blame on “whitey” will never solve anyone’s problem. Sending discouraging people in to tell them they do not have a chance for success is not the answer. A school where teacher loyalty is to the teacher’s union and not the students is not the answer. Pouring money into poor neighborhoods is not the answer. All funds should come with a mentor program that guides youth with clear expectations that the objective is to help themselves. College scholarships are a nice benefit, but getting younger children prepared for life, including college is probably a better solution.

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