published Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Time to overcome; groups ready to fight poverty trap

Brooklyn Moore, left, and Quantearra Colvin fill out paperwork as they and other teens gather at the Piney Woods Resource Center to find summer employment.
Brooklyn Moore, left, and Quantearra Colvin fill out paperwork as they and other teens gather at the Piney Woods Resource Center to find summer employment.
Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

It's easy to dismiss some issues as black and white. Actually, no, it's not easy, it's just lazy.

We read stories about the education gap, the jobs gap, the health gap. What we often fail to understand is the effect of the whole.

These gaps are connected.

It's no accident that where men and women don't have jobs, children live in poverty. And when children don't have extras like books and enrichment activities outside of their own back yards, they aren't prepared for school.

It's no accident that if those youngsters begin school behind their peers, they soon fall further behind in classrooms with cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all lessons. The lost children, so behind that the teacher's words are a jumble, are hopelessly bored — so bored they become unruly and get suspended.

With suspensions, they become so isolated they simply drop out. Once they've dropped out, they are pretty much doomed to be part of the next generation of unemployed or under-employed adults.

So the cycle repeats itself.

Consider these numbers:

• The 2013 unemployment rate for black American teens is 43.1 percent, while the jobless rate for all American teens is 25.1 percent.

• In 2010, [the most recent local numbers available] the unemployment rate for blacks here was 16.2 percent, while for whites it was 7 percent.

• Nearly half of black males ages 16 to 64 in Alton Park — 47.8 percent — are unemployed, while 33 percent in East Chattanooga are without jobs.

• The median household income for all blacks in Hamilton County is $26,787. It's $51,548 for whites and $28,519 for Hispanics.

• Most lower-paying service jobs are held by people living in the inner city, while people with higher paying management jobs and occupations in the arts and sciences live in North Chattanooga or the city's suburbs.

• About 30 percent of blacks ages 18 to 24 do not have a high school diploma, and the jobless rate for black males without a diploma is 52 percent.

• Nearly 60 percent of black children in Hamilton County live in poverty, compared with 16.5 percent of whites.

• Urban elementary schools such as Hardy, Barger and Calvin Donaldson lead the county in school suspensions compared with predominantly white suburban schools like Thrasher, Nolan and Lookout Mountain, which have the least suspensions. There also are more suspensions in mostly black high schools.

It's time to stop it. It's time to overcome.

So while the federal budget sequestration is closing Head Start facilities and Hamilton County commissioners are keeping school budgets lean and businesses are trimming workers from full-time to part-time at every opportunity, a handful of Chattanoogans are stepping forward to make change.

One of those is Dr. Elenora Woods, a dentist and the executive director of the Alton Park Development Corp. Woods said she saw the numbers on jobless blacks and the stark differences in income and school achievement and decided to take matters into her own hands.

She rounded up 125 black teens and has obtained commitments from 60 employers to offer 150 positions for teens ages 16 to 18. She asked that the youths be paid at least minimum wage and work a minimum of 20 hours a week for the summer.

She's also leading by example, hiring two teens for summer jobs in her office.

Another forward thinker is Kenneth Simpson. Simpson and a group from the men's ministry at Alton Park's New Emmanuel Church are planning a job training program to put unemployed men to work regardless of the obstacles the men have to overcome — including felony records.

The group is preparing a budget and seeking help from the MacClellan Foundation. Members hope to begin offering classes by January in subjects such as welding, auto mechanics and interview skills.

Hope for the Inner City started a Jobs For Life program near College Hill Courts in the fall of 2012 to help men on the Chattanooga Housing Authority's criminal trespass list get jobs and be welcomed back into public housing to reconnect with their families there.

These are powerful initiatives with grassroots origins. This is working to overcome. This is stretching. This is good.

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LaughingBoy said...

Did Dr Woods recommend and stress the importance of two-parent households?

I asked this to Cook and didn't get a response, would you be happy if test scores were equal across race, due to whites and Asian-American scores falling down to low levels?

June 5, 2013 at 4:14 p.m.
conservative said...

I have to give Liberals credit for one thing, they sure do work hard to fool people.

Head Start has largely been a waste of taxpayer's money. It has been a taxpayer supported baby sitting service.

The writer : "And when children don't have extras like books and enrichment activities outside of their own back yards, they aren't prepared for school."

This is Liberal gibberish excuse making. You can bet the "parents" of these children have money for the extras of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, nice clothes, and nice cars.

Did you see a word or warning to the "parent" about responsibility for their child? Go ahead and look, you won't find any.

What you will see is an implication that without Head Start black children will suffer. If you are in the mood to suffer read for yourself.

However, the failures the writer has stated for black children have happened with Head Start in place. Now do you see the attempt to deceive?

Said another way, failure is present with Head Start and failure is present without Head Start!

June 5, 2013 at 4:54 p.m.
klifnotes said...

There's nothing basically wrong with the Headstart program, just the way some states utilized it. Initially, Headstart began on a very good footing. Then like some states built private prisons to get poor people off the welfare roles, Headstart came to be used pretty much the same way. There's often been a lot of violence and other anti-social and unhealthy behavior taking place in prisons between guards and inmates.

Headstart became an on the job training program. Not that many of those people didn't turn out to be better than some with upfront college degrees in education, but many lacked the skills needed when it came to discipline and teaching. You can't discipline a child in a job environment where you're in charge of other peoples children the way you'd discipline your own child at home. The same went for many of these daycares that cropped up all over to get people off public assistance. Using physical punishment on a child as young as 6 months old? What can that child possibly understand about what he/she did wrong to get whipped except feeling the pain and not understanding why?

I think part of the reason America has experienced such a rise in violence in its young people at earlier and earlier ages is because the children are being separated from a parent or relative where they feel safe and secure and thrown into a sometimes unhealthy environment with strangers who use confusing methods of handling discipline, because they don't know any better. They raised their own and other people's children the way they were raised, not realizing the damage done to them, and they think it's the norm.

June 5, 2013 at 8:03 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

One more time:

I asked this to Cook and didn't get a response, would you be happy if test scores were equal across race, due to whites and Asian-American scores falling down to low levels?

June 6, 2013 at 10:20 a.m.
klifnotes said...

LB, that's not a question. That's an insult. What makes you think blacks, given the chance and without their education being sabotaged, can't rise to the level of Asian-Americans? I leave out whites, because I've known some pretty dumb whites who cheated their way through school and college.

June 6, 2013 at 12:41 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

It's not an insult. It's a question, and nothing in it states blacks can't raise their scores. The question is, since there is such hand-wringing over test scores being so much lower, would Cook and Sohn be happy if white and Asian-American scores dropped and things were nearly equal? It's basic math, for one group of test scores to catch up, the other set has to level off or decrease.

June 6, 2013 at 12:49 p.m.
klifnotes said...

LB, it's more complex than simply raising scores. And whites and Asian aren't necessarily any smarter than black or brown children. As I've said numerous times before, teaching methods, disciplining methods and student/parent relationship in the schools play a major role in the success or failure of a student. At primarily black schools, children start to be prepped for failure from the moment they enter kindergarten.

Remember, in times gone by, black schools often received the rejected/incompetent teaching and staff the school system couldn't get rid of because of tenure. So they were dumped into poor black and brown schools. Now, that may no longer be the case, but the lasting impact remains.

I still like the idea of the principle who fired all the security guards and instead hired art teachers, and the turn around for positive was almost immediate. Children can't learn, even adults can't function properly, when they're being taught in an oppressed, prison like atmosphere.

Principal fires security guards to hire art teachers — and transforms elementary school

June 6, 2013 at 8:59 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

It's Cook, Sohn, and the like who are so concerned on each group being equal..

I hope those art teachers can handle things in the event of an emergency.

June 7, 2013 at 10:30 a.m.
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