I'd like to recommend "The Shadow Factory" by James Bamford. Published in January 2008 it details how we got to this point. Bamford's research is very thorough and tells how 9/11 began the process that made America into the surveillance society it is today.
The government has always wanted to be more intrusive and nosey than America allowed... until Al-Qaeda won the war on terror by turning us into a nation of cowardly sheep. We may be able to keep killing Al-Qaeda's number 2, and we may be able to prevent further attacks... but the purpose of terrorism is to terrorize, and we've bought into it 100%.
We have forsaken freedom and liberty for the illusion of security.
We deserve the government we got. We asked for it, and we're reaping the rewards of cowardice. Anyone surprised that the government is hoovering up all of our data simply hasn't been paying attention.
Ben Franklin was right: "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
Why is the cohort graduation rate so low? In part because kids enter 9th grade incapable of doing work even
at a 6th grade level. Social promotion is a MAJOR reason for these numbers.
In the school I'm working at this year; NOT A SINGLE 7th OR 8th GRADER WAS HELD BACK. This includes
one student of mine who earned a 0% for one marking period and less than 5% for at least 2 others. (He
wasn't the only one.) The high schools who are receiving the 8th graders from my school are receiving a
cohort where 7% of them were reading at grade level last year. Far more than half of those students simply
cannot graduate in 4 years due to the Regents requirements. My school is not the only one committing this
(I almost used the word "fraud' but realized that's a legal term I could get in trouble for)
High schools can only do so much against the rushing tide of failed students headed their way every year.
There's only so much students can advance over and above the one year's worth they are expected to advance
(especially when they start out 6 or 7 years behind their suburban cohort).
These numbers skew the blame game away from the designers of this failed policy (administration) and the
failed family/social systems endemic in the impoverished regions of the city and onto the backs of the high
school teachers who are trying their damnedest to create silk purses out of sows' ears.
Until students are promoted based on achievement and not birthday the graduation rate will not improve.
Your arguments have a certain amount of logic to them. The problem is that regardless of your anecdotal evidence, the numbers don't lie. They don't lie here in Monroe County, and they don't lie anyplace else in the nation.
The fact remains that if 2 16-year old males are arrested for the same drug possession charge, if they are of different races, the outcomes in the supposedly impartial courts of law will be different far more often than not. The problem is in the entire system - the war on drugs that makes victimless activity a crime (and thus fosters the violence you see as the cause of the disparity), selective prosecution and differences in the quality of lawyers available due to disparity in incomes. Overworked public defenders barely have time to meet their clients, much less indulge in an active defense. Privately paid lawyers have more stake (and time) to engage the court in the adversarial relationship that should properly define the process.
The system obviously breaks down along class lines. Historic events and trends have conspired to leave one race in a specific (under)class. Until the system is fixed, and the laws are made to be actively less partial the disparity will continue and the racism built in to the system will continue. No one person drives the system any more, no more than any one person gets up in the morning determined to incarcerate more blacks than makes any kind of logical or demographic sense.
Until we as a society get our collective heads out of our collective rectums, the problem will persist and the underclass will continue to be far over-represented by African-Americans.
Have you read "The New Jim Crow"? Have you even taken some time to go to YouTube and listen to Michelle Alexander talk? Have you done the comparative studies and analysis regarding impact of the War on Drugs" and the minority community? The problem is not that the police give some latitude to minor offenses, it's the serious consequences and disparity that happen to some people and not others. Before reading the book, I held the notion that policing was being done fairly across the board. Maybe, maybe not. Numbers don't lie. And please don't quote Abraham Lincoln to me ("Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics"). There are no sets of numbers you can look at to show a different interpretation of the facts.
As for the ". . . favorable consideration in the corner of African Americans - and pretty much only them? What has that done to middle class educational opportunities in the city? And what has this condescension/pity done for African American students?" I can refer you to any number of my past posts and comments. These are issues I've been hollering about for years now. I would NOT call it "favorable consideration." I call it "social promotion", and it is pernicious and evil in the way it has eroded the educational situation in the city. Condescension and pity have only led to our current state of 5% college readiness at graduation. I am 100% behind higher rigor, keeping back kids who can't do grade level work, and getting the quality of our graduates to a point where far fewer of them have to spend all their college financial aid on remediation and fewer than 10% drop out in the first semester (it's over 25% now).
I respect greatly the work of Bill Cosby and Thomas Sowell and William Raspberry and Cornell West. The fact remains that you can preach all the "responsibility" you want. RESEARCH HAS SHOWN THAT RATES OF DRUG USE/DEALING ARE STATISTICALLY THE SAME AMONG THE WHITE COMMUNITY AS THE BLACK COMMUNITY. I intentionally bolded all that, because the point doesn't seem to be sinking in - the laws are race neutral, enforcement is not. Look at the percentage of our population in jail, then do a demographic breakdown. If you want to try to convince me that the black community is that much more drug using and violent than the white community (please adjust for poverty) you'll have to use actual science.
I do not think that very many police or DAs wake up in the morning and say "I'm gonna bust me some black people today." I think that the whole society has been adversely impacted by race and past racism, and that racial stereotypes persist in media and in people's minds causing UNINTENTIONAL bias in action. We see what we want to see, and act on that, rather than taking a step back and asking if we can believe our eyes, or if we've got some sort of impairment that makes our vision blurry - through no fault or our own.
It's not an attack to say "This is happening." It's not me saying "Police are racist." It's me, and Michelle Alexander, and Ice-T, and any number of other people trying to get people to realize the unintentional - but real - disparity and the socially devastating impact this unintentional disparity is having.
End the War on Drugs now! It's been a failure and has resulted in the social oppression (intentional or not) of an entire community.
In other news, water is wet.
It's no surprise that urban minority youth are targeted far far far more than are suburban white kids. The idea is to put them "in the system" as soon as possible. The sooner we can put them under control of the criminal justice system, the sooner we can ensure that we can prevent their voting, accessing low-cost public housing, getting jobs where you have to "check the box" and other elements of modern life.
Lincoln DeCoursey, while your points are technically valid, as MJN pointed out, you missed the big one. Suburban white kids are as or more likely to use and deal drugs than their urban counterparts. However, enforcement in the suburbs is FAR FAR FAR different from enforcement in the city. If Johnny Pittsford gets caught smoking some weed in a park, his parents are going to get a call, he may get charged with a misdemeanor, and the parents can afford a lawyer to ensure that little Johnny's life isn't sent off-track by a poor choice made at 16. If Bobby Crescent is arrested smoking weed in a park, he's going to be arrested and charged under the Rockefeller drug laws. He's going to get some overworked public defender who will encourage a plea deal that will prevent jail time, but leave Bobby with a criminal record that he will have to live with for the rest of his life. His plans and dreams are most likely over.
Ted Christopher - one reason you have been exposed more in the city than in the suburbs is due less to a desire to smoke openly than to a need, due to lack of places to hang out. There are plenty of suburban homes where the working or vacationing parents do not know that Johnny Pittsford is hanging out with his 12 friends smoking up a smog cloud in their house. Teens in the suburbs have more access to cars, larger more private parks, and many other choices urban youth do not. If you are being exposed to older African-Americans (low to mid 20s), realize that they have already likely been put on the felony track and have little to lose. Their dreams are already dashed on the shores of the Municipal Court House.
While my own personal (Libertarian) preference is for legalization and making underage use subject to treatment/deterrence penalties that will not leave a permanent mark, until they start enforcing these laws equally in white and black neighborhoods these laws are not good laws. They are tools of oppression to be used by the state to keep the majority of one particular group of people from advancing.
Don't believe me? Read "The New Jim Crow" by Michelle Alexander before you reply. Over 15 years ago, Ice-T made a similar point in his book "The Ice Opinion" only with far fewer statistics and court cases at hand than Ms. Alexander did.
Now, I'm the last one to complain that RCSD employees are overpaid. We're generally not. We make middle class money for long hours and significant stress.
$1,000,000\10 = $100,000 Granted, that also includes benefits, payroll taxes, social security and the like. But that still seems a bit high. I would at least like more data.
And yet somehow, the beleaguered RCSD faculty is supposed to overcome this gap or we lose our jobs.
Lots and lots of hard-working educators spend hours and hours preparing, teaching and assessing. Yet we're told we're just not good enough.
I know this article isn't meant to tell us to stop or that our efforts are pointless. The point (which many have been arguing for a long time) is that the current reform efforts are aimed in the wrong direction. Over 95% of the people who teach in the district are fine, and are doing the best with the hand we've been dealt. Reforms must be targeted at the people who need the help - children and parents.
If we spent 1/3 of what we spend on Special Ed in early childhood care and educating parents, we would need less than the 2/3 remaining in the budget. (Not a study result, just some darn fine logical thinking.)
Why does the district spend so much? To try to play catch-up. If I were a race car driver and I started a 500 mile race when my competitors already had 150 miles done, I'd need to be spending way more on my car to even consider being competitive. If I could somehow start at the same time as all the others, I would not need to spend quite so much on my car. It's a clunky analogy, but it works.
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