Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Disgraceful

These two crime-related articles in the Omaha World Herald on Sunday caught my eye, after a coworker called them to my attention. It is incredible to me that Nebraska’s murder rate for black residents ranks as the third highest in the United States, and that the rate is 18 times greater than for white residents. It is incredible that in our State--one of the least affected by the current recession--the poverty rate for African-American residents in our largest city ranks as the 11th highest in the country. It is incredible that the high school drop out rate of black students in Nebraska is four times greater than for white students.

It is more than incredible, it is disgraceful. Such blatant disparities should cause all Americans to cringe, and to think about what we can do to assure that our country lives up to the lofty assertion our founders made: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

It should be obvious to everyone that education, income, and risk of victimization are all interconnected. We should work to ensure equal educational outcomes for all residents in Nebraska. This is the most practical way to address these disparities and ensure equal access to success, regardless of race. Attack the dropout rate, and the crime rate will follow.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

I know I'm not the least bit PC when I ask this, but I'd like to know how we can change this without Government intervention?

I just am totally incapable of understanding how it is an inescapable truth that the results of hard work and relying only only your own abilities will determine your level of achievement.

Conversely, if you are allowed or encouraged by your environment to take the easy route, you will never have that success. I am not against a hand up, and try to do my part.

I just find it so frustrating that the recipients of so many programs become so dependent on the hand out instead.

Perhaps it is time to let
Darwinism take its course.

Anonymous said...

Personally I don't think that there is a way to ensure equal educational outcomes. I know my brothers and I didn't have the same equal educational outcomes and we grew up in the same family, in the same house, went to the same schools...
We each put in different amounts of effort and have different talents. I'm all for equal educational opportunities, but my thought is that equal educational outcomes means we always go to the least common denominator.

Tom Casady said...

6:37-

"Perhaps it is time to let
Darwinism take its course."


That's one of the more ridiculous, bigoted, hateful things I've heard lately.

It is particularly annoying from someone, who probably got a good start in life from one of the largest government-run programs around: a public education. There's nothing more quintessentially American as a public school, and ours raised a lot of kids from destitute poverty to lofty accomplishments. We should never give up on the hope and expectation that this can be as true today as it was in the 19th century.

Teammates is not a government run program. Neither is Big Brothers/Sisters, nor YMCA sports, nor Project Impact, nor the Center for People in Need, nor the Boys and Girls Club, nor several hundred churches in Lincoln. I could go on. All of these are the very things that support and encourage the development of "hard work and relying on your own abilities."

My point is we need to insist on strategies to address the dropout rate, and support programs that work--whether they receive government funding or otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Nice 6:37.

That is the kind of thinking that makes these kids even more weary of authority figures and have even more animosity toward society as a whole.

In some cases there has been an "us against them mentality". I'm not too excited about your Darwin idea. That will cause some serious spikes in crime.

Anonymous said...

There is some significant work being done on issues of poverty and education (because that's what it all boils down to) in Omaha by the Sherwood Foundation and the Building Bright Futures group. Here's a link to their websites. http://www.buildingbrightfutures.net/
http://www.sherwoodfoundation.org/about.html.

Yes, these are Susie Buffett's endeavors.

Anonymous said...

Do they boil the difference in the black dropout rate between those who grew up in a home with both of their married, biological parents, and those who grew up in a home headed by their single mother? That's not a good situation for a kid of any race.

Bill-formerly-from-the-hood said...

You're right Tom, it is disgraceful, and there's a lot of very good programs that help with that. As you pointed out though, one of our core values in America is that all men are *created* equal. We can't guarantee that everyone gets the same outcome.

I agree that the cure is education, but is OPS so bad that an education isn't available?

Anonymous said...

Sometimes government intervention may be appropriate. I worked at the State Pen for ten years. After working with inmates just a few months one thing was obvious to me: A huge percentage of the inmates had very poor reading and writing skills. This should have been the job of our school system but quite a few of the inmate population fell between the cracks. However maybe a few hundred thousand dollars of the million$ that the D.O.C. receives every year could be spent on teaching literacy skills to inmates. MOST inmates will be back on the streets someday. How can an ex-con expect to find any kind of work without the basic skills like reading or writing? Maybe a condition of parole should be the ability to read and write at a certain level? Most inmates have the intelligence to learn if they are provided an incentive to do so. We have inmates training service dogs. Maybe a program can be set up where selected inmates can be certified as instructors to teach basic educational skills to others?

Gun Nut

Anonymous said...

Chief-The issues you are tackling today are extremely complex. My reaction is that the root cause of most of the problems is that our sense of "family" has deteriorated over the last several generations. We've regressed since the 60's to the point where single mom's with multiple kids with multiple non-involved fathers are becoming the "norm". Grandparents are raising kids, because the so-called "parents" are not equipped to do so.For 3000 kids in Omaha, the family for them is their gang.

Our public school system is broken. We have consistently over time dumbed-down the expectations and a kid that drops out is partially a result of a failed system. How can we improve the schools however without parental support? That's the question that needs to be asked. If a kid can't get to school, has no parental support or expectations, they are destined to fail. By trying to help, we have also created a welfare society where someone who would like to try to work is able to survive better using welfare subsidies. This becomes multi-generational. 40% of the kids at my Grandson's school receive free lunches because their families are below the poverty level income thresholds. He lives in what I would call a middle-class neighborhood, certainly not a ghetto. Interestingly, about 40% of the kids he attends school with will not graduate from high school.

While I agree that the raw numbers for blacks and other minorities are disgraceful, the issues cross all color and race boundries.

I don't offer any solutions, but it all goes back to the family. Solve those issues, more kids go to school, get an education, become productive members of society, and reverse the downward spiral we have been in for several years.

256

Anonymous said...

I think, in addition to the great programs out thier, that todays parents are too busy or have to work because of being poor.

we need more good mentors to help with the kids that don't have the parental guidance.

And 6:37 must of had a cranialanal inversion...

Tom Casady said...

Bill and 6:57-

You're right. I should have said "opportunities" not "outcomes." But on the other hand, when your goal is equal outcomes, the method to strive towards that is to ensure equal opportunities--even though we all know that individual factors will effect the outcomes.

What is causing kids to drop out? How can we address those more effectively? If we have correctly identified the causes, and found some strategies that ameliorate those causes, we ought to be able to close that gap.

As some of the links in other comments point out, there are efforts underway now in Lincoln and Omaha (and nationally) to try to impact the dropout rate. This is something the community needs to get behind.

Anonymous said...

I bet if you could get a listing of the dropouts most would have a police contact from a young age due to problems in the home. Parents who abuse them or substances or parents who have lots of contacts for criminal activity.
Of the kids that I know that have dropped out, everyone of them has family issues. Some kids have told me that there is too much stress at home to study. Some love school because it gets them out of the house but can't keep up because of all the other issues taking care of siblings, working to help support the family.
They know you can't make it in this world without an education that's drilled into their heads. The only conclusion I can see is that these kids are without hope.
We have to get families,single mom, both parents, grandparents, whatever, on the right track.

Tom Casady said...

256-

How many kids did we see for a week in police summer camp that you could tell would be fine if they had a competent adult in their lives every day, instead of just for that week? How do you create some semblance of normalcy for a child living in chaos?

Remember, there are plenty of orphans who succeed widely in life, and plenty of kids who emerge from the worst possible circumstances to become... teachers, scientists, musicians, master craftsmen, registered nurses, police chiefs, and so forth.

I have my own theory about what works: its a caring, committed adult (or several) who stands in loco parentis--a teacher, coach, grandparent, aunt, neighbor, and so forth--who is a helper, role model, and mentor to a child who lacks enough of these qualities from mom and dad.

I want my money (whether the taxes I pay or the donations I give) to be used on strategies that connect people one-on-one.

Anonymous said...

I think the media and pop culture's glorification of the gang lifestyle is mostly to blame... Now, instead of children dreaming of being astronauts, doctors or soldiers, kids aspire to be gang members....
I would like the news to do a thorough job and show the stats on the race of the perpetrators of these homicides in Omaha... Or the race percentage of people arrested for and gun discharge related offenses in Lincoln and Omaha i.e. shootings of any type.

Grundle King said...

Equal opportunities and equal outcomes, in my opinion, are mutually exclusive...because not everyone puts forth an equal effort. This applies to youth of all races. As I was once told, you only get out what you put in. If you put in a lousy effort, you'll get a lousy outcome.

"For prudence is but experience, which equal time equally bestows on all men in those things they equally apply themselves unto." ~ Thomas Hobbes

Anonymous said...

"that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Maybe for some dropping out is their way to pursue happiness why should you discourage that Chief? Do we not all meet the same fate in the end? Maybe some would rather take a different approach to life than everyone else and be themselves instead of just another person in society.

Anonymous said...

Tom-I agree with you 100%. Some kids are born into the chaos. It's not their fault that they have nitwits for parents. Mentoring or parenting by a supportive adult seems to be the best way for them to succeed.I spend my time and money the same as you.

256

Tom Casady said...

1:04-

While I want to respond by saying "have some more Doritos," I think I'll treat this as a serious comment. Here's why dropping out of high school should be discouraged: if you don't graduate from high school, you are consigning yourself to a lifetime of underemployment, and you are vastly increasing the risk that you will be poor, jobless, ill, addicted, imprisoned, and an economic drag on the rest of the community.

You may be happy for a few weeks or months, free from the yoke of educational oppression and roaming around in pursuit of your happiness, but that won't take you far. When you are broke, toothless, and 40, asking customers "Can I supersize that?", you'll regret the biggest mistake of your life.

Tom Casady said...

All-

Props to 256 for rescuing the word "nitwit!"

Anonymous said...

Meathead

Numbskull

Nimrod

Dimbulb

I used to just categorically call them all morons, but then morons protested that this was somehow degrading and not politically correct.

256

Anonymous said...

Graduating from high school is important for all, but doubly so for a man. When you can't make babies, your access to subsidized housing is greatly curtailed, and likewise for food stamps, EITC, and all the rest. Worse yet, without that diploma, you're unable to even join any branch of the military (sometimes, some branches will take a GED, sometimes they won't, just assume they don't) and take that route out of poverty and the temptation of a criminal lifestyle. No GI bill for you, in that case.

The very small percentage of HS dropouts who go on to live a self-supporting and productive life isn't even worth considering. Unless you inherit money, marry into it, have a fat trust fund, or are an exceptional athlete (and I mean world-class, not just really good), your life will resemble what the Chief just summarized.

Stay in school, don't make babies until you're married and have a stable home, with a spouse that isn't a deadbeat and doesn't have any serious criminal record (and no criminal buddies). Don't make babies, until you can support them on your own nickel, without going on the dole at all.

Anonymous said...

Here are two questions that might jump-start a near-future post: In 2009, how many of the 1,272 residential burglaries were at a residence with a functional and armed alarm system? Also, how many of the 365 non-residential burglaries were at a business with a functional and armed alarm system?

Tom Casady said...

2:19-

Well said. I would add to your last paragraph, after "with a spouse..." the following:

"...with whom you are deeply in love and to whom you are completely committed,"

Now, if you hear this same message repeatedly over a long period of time from people you respect and admire, and if they not only say it but model it in their own lives, how much more likely are you to adopt it as your own standard?

See, we really could change the world--no Gov'mnt intervention required. You have to start somewhere, so start with the young people around you at work, at school, at practice, in you neighborhood. Tell them this, and model this to them.

Anonymous said...

Now that I have been branded a hater, I can sleep well knowing that the point I tried to make got completely left behind. I would like to thank you, however, for labeling me as someone who started off with everything and had it all handed to him.

Actually, you couldn't be further from the truth. I am a person of mixed race, both of my parents were of minority heritage. I was born on a small farm, attending a one room school until 10th grade, at which point my family moved to Omaha where I attended Central High. The best job my father ever had was working for $6 per hour at Swift packing house , and both of my parents died broke before I reached the age of 20.

Through military service (which I chose to seek because of the opportunities it offered) I learned a trade and eventually have worked in a couple different professions that have allowed me to move into the middle class. My children will hopefully be able to attend college, but not because of any financial aid I am able to provide.

No government program ever taught me to work hard, no government program ever taught or demonstrated that my parents could do a better job of providing me love. I have made what I have through my own hard work and a refusal to let someone else be in charge of my life.

Show me a program that teaches that, and you'll have my full support. Until then, how many more welfare mommas are going to keep breeding as a means of increasing their allotment? Why should I pay for their continued subsistence?

One last point: I participate in my church's support of the Backpack program at least monthly by giving volunteer time as well as finances. I am a Mentor in the Teammates program. I am an assistant Scoutmaster for my son's old troop, and a Confirmation teacher at my church. I even bought Girl Scout Cookies and I'm diabetic.

None of these programs, as you mentioned, are government sponsored, yet they all have a positive effect on the community and prevent the topics brought up in the Chief's original post.

Once again: I just am totally incapable of understanding how it is an inescapable truth that the results of hard work and relying only only your own abilities will determine your level of achievement.

Go ahead and bash some more. Do us both a favor, however, and try to do so without attaching all the labels that weren't even close to the truth.

-The original 6:37

Anonymous said...

Our 4 pm burgler was dressed all in tan and was short and able to climb through window in door, very drunk too...best we can do...thats all

Tom Casady said...

Original 6:37-

The Darwinism remark, implying that we should natural selection take its course, is indeed a hateful thing to say. I'm glad that's not the way you really feel. Maybe YOU are not bigoted and hateful, but that remark certainly is.

Please accept my apology for any offense. Fortunately, I accept anonymous comments on my blog, so your reputation will be unharmed.

Now, about education, my point is this: almost all of us have benefitted from government intervention. Before people rail about it, they ought to look in their accounts. I'm sometimes a little amazed to hear people complaining about OTHERS receiving some kind of government assistance, when they cash social security checks that are far larger than their contribution to the fund, enjoy low interest subsidized student loans, receive government checks for idle farm land, take taxpayer-funded bailouts, and drive a new car after cashing in their clunker on the public dime.

I'm annoyed by people who learn the system and take advantage of it, rather than putting forth effort to make an honest living, but this is neither related to poverty nor race, rather it is a matter of character. I think we've all learned that $1,000 suits and top-floor offices do not define character, haven't we?

Anonymous said...

anonymous 6:37,

Let me get this straight.

Casady writes a blog about a news story showing that the murder rate for blacks in Nebraska is 18 times greater than for whites, and that Omaha has the third highest murder rate for blacks in the nation.

You respond: "Perhaps it is time to let Darwinism take its course."

The chief calls this comment hateful and bigoted, and YOU are offended.

Did I get that about right?

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:37: You state no government program taught you about hard work, etc. and yet you tell us you joined the military due to the opportunities it provided and it taught you a trade. Last I heard, our military was a part of government.
Just saying.

JIM J said...

This post has the potential to be the most commented on. I do not follow the race issue much as it seems to me to just feed the fire.

Anonymous said...

To -The original 6:37-February 23, 2010 5:54 PM,
When I read your first post 6:37 I knew that Darwinism comment would get jumped on. After reading your second response and realizing the context you based that statement on I saw your reasoning in a different frame of reference. The main disagreement I have with your Darwinism comment is that it implies that we cannot solve these problems. It is going to be difficult but I think it is too early to throw in the towel just yet. However until we get back to a society based on solid moral concepts and values I think we are doomed to failure.

Gun Nut

Anonymous said...

The problem with treating even all the gang-bangers like a big en masse "Escape From NoDo" film and letting them blast each other to bits is this: Their neighborhoods contain a lot of people who aren't gang-affiliated, aren't criminals, aren't societal sponges - and they'd get the collateral damage.

Government programs won't do it. The people most affected need to stop having babies that they lack the character and finances to raise and support, because those are the gang-bangers of the future, raised in unstable homes, with no strong, responsible male role models. Young males instinctively seek out strong male leaders, and if they don't have good role models, they'll settle for bad ones, and gangs are where you'll find a hefty supply of strong, bad role models.

Candlelight vigils do nothing. Marches and pep rallies do nothing. Pleading for people to change, when you refuse to change yourself, does nothing. Until the young brood mares stop giving it out to every good-looking, saggy-pants gang-banger and drug dealer with a nice car, clothes, and a thick roll of cash, nothing will change.

This pretty much mirrors what I used to hear preached years ago, by a fellow Marine, who escaped inevitable gang life and early death in the Cabrini-Green area of Chicago (some of you will know what that means) by enlisting on his 18th birthday.

Anonymous said...

Well said Chief Casady. Well said.

Tom Casady said...

2:20-

"...the young brood mares stop giving it out..."

One of my favorite books is Leon Uris's Trinity. It is a semi-historical novel about the Troubles. The same views were espoused by Protestants about the Irish Catholics.

I go back to my belief: if you want to break a cycle of poverty, hopelessness, and despair, your best bet is to start with young people and try to create competence, confidence, and hope. Focusing on education is a more practical way of doing that then trying to solve every social ill or reform every ineffective parent.

Reduce the dropout rate; improve the graduation rate.

******

Several years ago, I was driving to work when Officer Don Fosler was dispatched to 2545 Theresa Street. A woman had called for police assistance because her 10 year old son would not get ready and go to school. I got on the radio, and told Don that I was jumping his call.

A few minutes later, the chief of police showed up. Mom was outside, by her car. Her fifth grader was chronically truant because he often refused to go to school. She was an ongoing DHHS client, and obvioiusly had issues. She said that her CPS caseworker had told her that if she wasn't able to get her son to comply when it was time to take him to school, she should call the police.

I went inside and found her son laying on the couch in his tidey whities and a pair of cowboy boots, screaming profanities. I calmly told him that if he didn't get dressed and get in his mom's car, I would have to go tell his teacher and classmates that he was throwing a tantrum in his underwear, and woulddn't be in today. That worked with immediate effect, and the problem was solved.

At first, I was somewhat incensed that a CPS worker would use us in such a patently mercenary manner. Then I started thinking about it. You can't fix mom. Maybe, though, if the kid isn't missing 40 school days annually, he'll find some sort of stability at Belmont Elementary and he'll be able to overcome some of the deficits that exist in his family life.

I still wasn't pleased at the thought of the police being used in this way, but upon reflection, I'm not so sure I wouldn't try the same tactic if I was the exasperated caseworker trying to do something, anything, that would help. Getting him to school, by whatever means possible, was the caseworker's strategy.

I am not endorsing the approach, but I think I understand the motivation.

******

I'm completely in agreement on the need for good role models. They are in short supply generally. Some key mentors at a couple critical periods in my life are largely responsible for what I have accomplished in adulthood.

Trevor Brass said...

Everyone wants someone else to blame, not themselves -- basic self-serving bias theory: success of an indidivual is a result of personal action while our failures are due to extingent circumstances. Inverse this and you get an idea of what I'm talking about.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that hater-of-Irish-Catholics brush just missed me. Maybe it's because I'm a half-Irish Catholic myself, and I think Cromwell's pic belongs on a dartboard in Hell, so if there's an Orangeman here, it isn't me. Single motherhood wasn't a significant problem among Irish Catholics of that time, anyway, regardless of what some land-grabbing splitters thought.

The brood mare term came straight from my Chicago comrade, whose mother had five children from three different fathers, none of whom ever entertained the thought of marrying her. He said the gangbangers were mostly a lost cause, so the best thing to do was to stop making more of them, which was exactly what those women were doing. He said they effectively controlled the means of production (for want of a better term), and while people didn't want to admit it, that was where to point the biggest finger, with an only slightly smaller one pointed at the louts who impregnated them. He knew quite a bit more about growing up in the Chicago projects than I did, so I took his word for it.

Our college freshman expert (still young enough to know everything) has just chimed in, so he might know more about it than all of us.

Anonymous said...

Well this is a good intro to another blog about preventing sex crimes in our pure city. GO BIG RED!
While we all have our heads in statistics, someone, somewhere, is being abused.

Tom Casady said...

4:21-

Which half?

I didn't mean to be taking a swipe with that brush, it just seems to me that the fertility of the poor is a very old cliche.

A focus on changing adult behavior is usually (though not always) unproductive. When hopelessness and despair thrive, It is the next generation where we need to grow competence, confidence, and hope.

By the way, my long-winded story occurred at 2525 Cleveland Ave., not 2545 Theresa. I wouldn't want the former owner of the Shady Elms to track me down.

Steve said...

I've started three times to comment on this post. The first two were aborted, not so much out of fear, but more to keep from escalating the volatile nature of the topics that have been breached (religion, race, Creationism vs Darwinism, the role of government, etc.). I really don't think this is the place for many of those discussions. Maybe I'm just invoking the 5th amendment so as not to be chastised like 6:37 was.

Trevor Brass said...

--Our college freshman expert (still young enough to know everything) has just chimed in, so he might know more about it than all of us.--

No implication there, Anonymous @ 4:21 PM. Although I guess that is the risk one takes when using a proper identity.

JIM J said...

Grand Island police arrested a woman and her son for Murder ..
They were frequent users of LPD services. Now they will use about 1.5 million dollars of Grand Island tax money for a trial and Tom Bodett can leave the light on for them too. Beings we all are going "green" at least the light bulb will use less electric, even the bulb will last ten times longer. The fair moved to G.I so they have the extra to spend on our folks who went west from our fair city. Is Grand Island the city who sent the fellow on a bus to Lincoln a time ago?(or N.P) What comes around goes around.