Chris Marschner, a grandmaster of the Ethics Alarms Comment of the Day feature, issued another deserving one with his thoughts on the Milwaukee riots. It is a highlight of the threads generated by this topic, but there are many other highlights amid the 90+ comments, including an Alamo-like stand against overwhelming odds (and logic) by that prolific, embattled, and adamant EA progressive, deery. The whole discussion is well worth reading. Deery also authored the comment that inspired Chris’s response below.
Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, “Sarcasm-Tainted Observations On The Milwaukee Riots”:
For the life of me I cannot see how any rational human being can justify rioting and the looting businesses because they feel they are owed something for being “oppressed”. What the hell did the gas station or auto parts store do to them? Does that case of Cheezits being carried out of the store address all of your complaints, or is it just a partial down payment on a never ending invoice for the injustice you perceive? Sorry I have no sympathy for anyone who had myriad opportunities to become educated in a manner that would permit them to read, write, perform arithmetic calculations, and just plain think.
No amount of funding can overcome community apathy. Especially, when apathy is the root cause of the need for funding in the first place. The community needs to recognize that if it wants things to be different then it needs to come to grips with the idea that they must take on the lion’s share of the work to enjoy a better life; it cannot be bestowed upon them. It must pool its own resources first before it requests resources from others. It must demonstrate that it is committed to being responsible for the work of changing the situation. Any one who thinks jobs and opportunities will simply emerge with more government spending in areas that suggest crime is rampant needs his/her head examined. No amount of tax abatement will overcome the cost of rebuilding a business that has been burned to the ground. It should be noted that the police did not spray paint tags all over other people’s buildings. It’s not urban art, it’s vandalism. The police did not create the need for security grates over the glass windows of shops. The police did not throw litter all over the street and dump furniture and tires wherever they pleased. More importantly, within the BCPD, the officers charged with various felonies while on the force were predominantly non-white so it not always a racial issue.
I grew up in Baltimore City. I lived there from 1956-1989. I went to Balto. City public schools (BCPS). I went to Woodbourne Jr. High and graduated from Northern High in 1974. Both schools were integrated and each had its share of bad actors be they white or black. In those days black parents wanted to keep their kids away from the “element”. I don’t think that is the case today. Today we celebrate the gangsta persona.
I was neither a star pupil nor a bad student. What I did learn from my father was that college was not something I could ask for help with and no school counselor ever suggested that I consider college. I saw the battles my older brother went through to get him to fill out the financial information on the financial aid applications. My father hated to disclose his income. Perhaps it was because he felt inferior to what others made or maybe he just did not like the idea of getting government assistance. I don’t know. I just learned not to ask about college. To this day I don’t remember either parent talking to me about college except for when I was in 8th grade and I could not pass the foreign language class which was required for college prep.
I did not go to college immediately after high school. Ironically, both my parents were Baltimore City Public School teachers for much of their lives. My mother who taught English was known as that white honky bitch at Northern Parkway Junior High. That’s what the parents called her when she called them to discuss a student’s lack of progress. She got called that a lot. I saw the tears of frustration.
There were no good jobs for me in 1975. I started out with nothing but I worked unloading trailers for $25/day. My family moved away when my father took a job in Western MD in 1977. I had no mentor, no male role model as I entered the world of work but I knew right from wrong. There was no support group for me. Eventually, I saved enough to buy my first truck. I operated that business in the Canton section of city. I did the best I could growing the business but sold it in 1983 because I was not doing as well as I thought I should. I got out before the economy took a nose dive. Nonetheless, it was painfully apparent that despite my experience in the operating my own business I needed a degree if I was going to advance.
After graduating from a community college and then the University of Baltimore in 1987, with no debt and receiving no financial assistance except for an academic fellowship to UB, I went to work in West Baltimore to help the local business community grow and create quality shopping and employment opportunities. My job title was Merchant Organizer. A community organizer of sorts. The focus of my efforts was to get the private sector economic interests working toward a common goal. The problem that I found was that the community – both residents and commercial interests – were of the belief that the government should provide all the resources, that the community would decide how they would be distributed, and that no consequences would occur if the claimed outcome did not materialize.
No one felt that they needed to invest anything. I saw little fiefdoms emerge. Community engagement really meant fighting to be a power broker. I was actually disciplined by the “Community Board” because I suggested that they consider incorporating the hired technical experts opinions into the plans they were making. I decided that this was not going to be job with any future. That community group eventually became ACORN. I think that because ACORN had the same Carrollton Ave. address when it was making news over a decade later.
The fact is that not much has changed since I went to BCPS except that the idea that everybody else is to blame for whatever hardship they might endure is much more entrenched. If the African American community is frustrated by the treatment they feel they are getting from those who are employed to enforce the laws, perhaps it is because the police are frustrated by the communities that they serve. I am reminded of the “Don’t Snitch” programs which gained national exposure in Baltimore. When I had my delivery business, my trucks were robbed several times in broad daylight around the city yet no one saw any thing – imagine that.
We have spent trillions of dollars on anti-poverty programs. We have made available numerous academic support programs for what are termed special populations under Title IX funding. Special populations are students who identify as a special class with some special needs; typically they are single mothers, minorities, students where English is not their first language, etc. Yet, the problems and resentment are rising.
Poverty rates are still climbing. We have children in Head Start who are the grand kids of other Head Start kids from years ago. Per pupil spending in Baltimore City is second only to Worcester County and it should be noted that most of Worcester County’s funding is local compared to less than 25% of BCPS coming from local tax revenues. BCPS spends 15% more than its neighbor in Baltimore County and gets much less in terms of outcomes. You cannot argue that student performance is related to the wealth of the community when the wealthiest communities spend less per pupil. In BCPS the 2016 average spending per pupil is $16,713. Consider an average class of 25 students – that’s nearly $425,000 per class unit annually. Even if we assume that average teacher compensation is $100K /year where is the rest of the money going? For $325,000/ year I can buy a lot of ancillary materials to aid instruction, maintain safe learning conducive buildings, and fund new school construction. Who are the stewards of the funds of BCPS?
I don’t want to hear about poor public school funding from the district that is fourth in the nation in spending. The argument that inner city kids don’t have educated parents that can help them achieve is a cop out. Every kid I see has a smart phone provided for them under universal access fees or some other source. There are plenty of online resources and public libraries available at no cost. l would also predict that many of their grandparents went to school with me and got the same education I did. What their grandparents did for their children is debatable but that has no bearing on resource allocation decisions. The days of blacks getting an inferior education because of segregation are long past. Today, any inferior education of African Americans must be laid directly at the feet of the school systems, the communities in which they operate, students who do not value academic rigor and their parents who instill apathy into those kids. Money cannot fix ignorance or stupidity. Frederick Douglas educated himself in spite of real discrimination and dangerous racism.
I want to know what individuals in the communities are going to do to help themselves to escape the horrors of ghetto life. No one is condemned to such a life, it is by choice that one remains an uneducated peasant bound to serve their political kings and queens for mere subsistence. Perhaps it is time for a new paradigm with respect to government programs. We should redirect funding to communities that can document self help programs that reduce the number of people in poverty or show increases in median incomes. Reward schools systems which can demonstrate real increases in attendance rates, college admissions etc. Make college admissions tougher. Forget free college for everyone but provide scholarships for academically deserving students. Financial need is not a predictor of student success. If they prove themselves worthy in public schools help them progress but don’t financially reward those who squander the first opportunity at a free education. Even if funding is tied to something as simple as keeping the area in front of one’s home neat and orderly could create the basis for an economic renaissance in those areas.
Why not create a program in which CDBG funds are reduced with increases in shootings or other violent crimes? Make everyone accountable for getting the criminals off the street. When funding for that new community center for at risk kids is jeopardized by the level of shootings and drug sales in the area maybe the community might just get involved. School funding should gradually become tied to real student achievement. If student achievement gaps help administrators acquire more funding then it stands to reason that they don’t want the problem to go away. If funding is tied to success then the incentives are changed. Our current system is upside down. It’s like getting paid off to throw the game so someone else gets a big payday.
In short, stop reinforcing the behaviors and conditions that helps get them more funding and start rewarding those communities that actually are making progress on their own. The current methods are not working and may be making things worse. Furthermore, it would force race-baiters to adopt more positive leadership practices