There are 16.4 million poor children in rich America, 7.4 million living in extreme poverty. A majority of public school students and more than three out of four Black and Hispanic children, who will be a majority of our child population by 2019, are unable to read or compute at grade level in the fourth or eighth grade and will be unprepared to succeed in our increasingly competitive global economy. Nearly eight million children are uninsured. More children were killed by guns in 2008-2009 than U.S. military personnel in both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to date. A Black boy born in 2001 has a one in three chance of going to prison in his lifetime; a Latino boy a one in six chance of the same fate. Millions of children are living hopeless, poverty- and violence-stricken lives in the war zones of our cities; in the educational deserts of our rural areas; in the moral deserts of our corrosive culture that saturates them with violent, materialistic, and individualistic messages; and in the leadership deserts of our political and economic life where greed and self interest trump the common good over and over. Millions of our children are being left behind without the most basic human supports they need to survive and thrive when parents alone cannot provide for them at a time of deep economic downturn, joblessness, and low wage jobs that place a ceiling on economic mobility for millions as America’s dream dims. Unemployment, underemployment, and economic inequality are rife and will worsen if massive cascading federal, state, and local budget cuts aimed primarily at the poor and young succeed. Homeless shelters, child hunger, and child suffering have become normalized in the richest nation on earth. It’s time to reset our moral compass and redefine how we measure success.
On top of the most catastrophic economic downturn since the Great Depression, the continued impact of automation, and the shift of domestic production to lower-wage nations, here is a less dramatic yet no less decisive constraint that limits opportunities for many working-age Americans: The bus does not go where the paychecks are.
Nearly 40 million working-age people now live in parts of major American metropolitan areas that lack public transportation, according to an analysis by the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. The consequences of this disconnection fall with particular severity on the poor. One in 10 low-income residents relies on some form of public transportation to get to work, according to the report.
In the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas, nearly half of all jobs lie more than 10 miles from the downtown core, according to a prior study by Elizabeth Kneebone, a Brookings researcher. For the typical resident, more than two-thirds of the jobs in the 100 largest metro areas are beyond range of a 90-minute commute using mass transit. A separate Brookings study released this week finds that the typical job in major metro areas is accessible to only 27 percent of all working age adults within an hour-and-a-half commute on public transportation.
Weightlifter Sarah Robles is an incredible athlete, but outside the world of squats and snatches, barely anyone knows her name. And even though she’s the U.S.’s best chance at an Olympic medal, she’ll never get the fame or fortune that come so easily to her fellow athletes — in part because, at 5 feet, 10.5 inches and 275 pounds, she doesn’t fit the ideal of thin, toned athletic beauty.
When you live in a poor neighborhood, you are living in an area where you have poor schools. When you have poor schools, you have poor teachers. When you have poor teachers, you get a poor education. When you get a poor education, you can only work in a poor-paying job. And that poor-paying job enables you to live again in a poor neighborhood. So, it’s a very vicious cycle.
Malcolm X (via warriorsrise)
EXACTLY EXACTLY EXACTLY.
This is why tying education funding to local property taxes is one of the most brutally f-ed up policies in modern America.