Saturday, December 19, 2015

Days of Our Lives

The decline of the middle class has finally been confirmed.  Glad you made it, however quite late to the party, but  you made it.    The recently released Pew report finally confirmed what those of us who were once working class new for quite some time, we fall into the working poor.

As for the poor poor, an ever increasingly larger cohort as that includes many seniors and immigrants who are the outliers when it comes to noting their poverty.   As the safety nets of Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid and Food Stamps, as well as some housing benefits, are actually counted as income.  Remember when income meant monies actually earned? And to some they actually believe that if they had less to none of those, those enrolled in said programs  would have more of the latter versus the former which somehow is a preventive to actually seeking and earning income.  Sure, okay I  can see that getting Granny to work is the key and those lazy raping immigrants or people who want to raise children and cannot afford child care are slackers that need a swift kick in the ass thanks to all that free shit they get!

The reality is that America is not just divided by the politics that represent them, they are divided by the poverty that marks them.

I wrote in Destiny by Birth that whom you are born to economically determines one's life opportunities, which may explain the Bush family.  But in reality that has been a long line in genetic predetermination, from the DuPont's to the Rockerfellers to the Dursts, the Astors, to the new lineages of Gates, Jobs and the Clintons.  They are the new wealth that came out of access and opportunity.   The Zuckerberg baby is another but one needs to recall that Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard, not Pomona Community College and came from a well to do family already, so the doors were only half a push vs a shove.

Meritocracy like the Middle Class is an outlier.  And yet the dreams and aspirations of those with children still share a common bond - for them to do well.  But the reality of the intrinsic comes against the extrinsic factors that push against that same balloon trying to rise.

Class Differences in Child-Rearing Are on the Rise

by Claire Cain Miller
The New York Time
DEC. 17, 2015

The lives of children from rich and poor American families look more different than they have in decades.

Well-off families are ruled by calendars, with children enrolled in ballet, soccer and after-school programs, according to a new Pew Research Center survey There are usually two parents, who spend a lot of time reading to children and worrying about their anxiety levels and hectic schedules.

In poor families, however, children tend to spend their time at home or with extended family, the survey found. They are more likely to grow up in neighborhoods that their parents say aren’t great for raising children, and their parents worry about them getting shot, beaten up or in trouble with the law.

The class differences in child rearing are growing, researchers say — a symptom of widening inequality with far-reaching consequences. Different upbringings set children on different paths and can deepen socioeconomic divisions, especially because education is strongly linked to earnings. Children grow up learning the skills to succeed in their socioeconomic stratum, but not necessarily others.

“Early childhood experiences can be very consequential for children’s long-term social, emotional and cognitive development,” said Sean F. Reardon, professor of poverty and inequality in education at Stanford University. “And because those influence educational success and later earnings, early childhood experiences cast a lifelong shadow.”

The cycle continues: Poorer parents have less time and fewer resources to invest in their children, which can leave children less prepared for school and work, which leads to lower earnings.

American parents want similar things for their children, the Pew report and past research have found: for them to be healthy and happy, honest and ethical, caring and compassionate. There is no best parenting style or philosophy, researchers say, and across income groups, 92 percent of parents say they are doing a good job at raising their children.

Yet they are doing it quite differently.

Working-class parents, meanwhile, believe their children will naturally thrive, and give them far greater independence and time for free play. They are taught to be compliant and deferential to adults.

There are benefits to both approaches. Working-class children are happier, more independent, whine less and are closer with family members, Ms. Lareau found. Higher-income children are more likely to declare boredom and expect their parents to solve their problems.

Yet later on, the more affluent children end up in college and en route to the middle class, while working-class children tend to struggle. Children from higher-income families are likely to have the skills to navigate bureaucracies and succeed in schools and workplaces, Ms. Lareau said.
“Do all parents want the most success for their children? Absolutely,” she said. “Do some strategies give children more advantages than others in institutions? Probably they do. Will parents be damaging children if they have one fewer organized activity? No, I really doubt it.”

Social scientists say the differences arise in part because low-income parents have less money to spend on music class or preschool, and less flexible schedules to take children to museums or attend school events.

Extracurricular activities epitomize the differences in child rearing in the Pew survey, which was of a nationally representative sample of 1,807 parents. Of families earning more than $75,000 a year, 84 percent say their children have participated in organized sports over the past year, 64 percent have done volunteer work and 62 percent have taken lessons in music, dance or art. Of families earning less than $30,000, 59 percent of children have done sports, 37 percent have volunteered and 41 percent have taken arts classes.

Especially in affluent families, children start young. Nearly half of high-earning, college-graduate parents enrolled their children in arts classes before they were 5, compared with one-fifth of low-income, less-educated parents.

Nonetheless, 20 percent of well-off parents say their children’s schedules are too hectic, compared with 8 percent of poorer parents.

Another example is reading aloud, which studies have shown gives children bigger vocabularies and better reading comprehension in school. Seventy-one percent of parents with a college degree say they do it every day, compared with 33 percent of those with a high school diploma or less, Pew found. White parents are more likely than others to read to their children daily, as are married parents.

Most affluent parents enroll their children in preschool or day care, while low-income parents are more likely to depend on family members.

Discipline techniques vary by education level: 8 percent of those with a postgraduate degree say they often spank their children, compared with 22 percent of those with a high school degree or less.

The survey also probed attitudes and anxieties. Interestingly, parents’ attitudes toward education do not seem to reflect their own educational background as much as a belief in the importance of education for upward mobility.

Most American parents say they are not concerned about their children’s grades as long as they work hard. But 50 percent of poor parents say it is extremely important to them that their children earn a college degree, compared with 39 percent of wealthier parents.

Less-educated parents, and poorer and black and Latino parents are more likely to believe that there is no such thing as too much involvement in a child’s education. Parents who are white, wealthy or college-educated say too much involvement can be bad.

Parental anxieties reflect their circumstances. High-earning parents are much more likely to say they live in a good neighborhood for raising children. While bullying is parents’ greatest concern over all, nearly half of low-income parents worry their child will get shot, compared with one-fifth of high-income parents. They are more worried about their children being depressed or anxious.
In the Pew survey, middle-class families earning between $30,000 and $75,000 a year fell right between working-class and high-earning parents on issues like the quality of their neighborhood for raising children, participation in extracurricular activities and involvement in their children’s education.

Children were not always raised so differently. The achievement gap between children from high- and low-income families is 30 percent to 40 percent larger among children born in 2001 than those born 25 years earlier, according to Mr. Reardon’s research.

People used to live near people of different income levels; neighborhoods are now more segregated by income. More than a quarter of children live in single-parent households — a historic high, according to Pew – and these children are three times as likely to live in poverty as those who live with married parents. Meanwhile, growing income inequality has coincided with the increasing importance of a college degree for earning a middle-class wage.

Yet there are recent signs that the gap could be starting to shrink. In the past decade, even as income inequality has grown, some of the socioeconomic differences in parenting, like reading to children and going to libraries, have narrowed, Mr. Reardon and others have found.

Public policies aimed at young children have helped, he said, including public preschool programs and reading initiatives. Addressing disparities in the earliest years, it seems, could reduce inequality in the next generation.


This week Flint, Michigan has a state of emergency over the state of its drinking water.  It's lead levels are at dangerous levels for public health.  The former home of Michael Moore the documentarian who 20 years ago noted the reality of their declining city as the automotive industry began to change its production lines and move jobs out of state and the country.

How ironic that the Executive in charge of the Ford Foundation wrote an editorial in the New York Times this week asking philanthropists and foundations to examine their giving practices. To that I say charity begins at home and we have a big house that needs restoration.

Below is the story of Freddie Gray and his community.  We often think of it as a matter of choice and that again the whole idea of "working harder" will resolve the problems that are stacked higher than any wall Donald Trump could possibly build.

I often think if I was born 20 years later I would end up in similar circumstances.  My parents were immigrants or children of them.  They were uneducated and they were working class, my father a longshoreman, my mother a retail clerk.  So when I am forced to sit through endless hours on white privilege surrounded by some who are immigrants, people of color and work in education I want to know who those people are and then I look to the district and their fake rainbow of executives and administrators who rarely set foot in the schools that mark this district and go "really?"

I want to point out that while we were never forcibly desegregated we finally faced the reality of the way the schools elected to do so in the Supreme Court ruling of 2007, 30 years after the crazed busing riots of the 70s.

The case Seattle Schools and Louisville KY schools at that point used race as a "tie breaker" when it came to enrollment.  At that point Seattle only had two races - white and black - in which to determine and validate enrollment data. Any other color was virtually ignored in a district filled with large portion of Samoan Americans and Native ones as well (and yes all the colors and ethnicities in between, I get it Seattle liberal scolds I get it more than you know).  What is my favorite is that when I tell people it was in conjunction with Louisville, Kentucky, the horrific stares of shock is hilarious as the people here in Seattle see themselves as in align with much more sophisticated provinces.  My ill educated former neighbor all Seattle school born and raised is an example when he trashed the South, I informed him that Seattle is not really much better according to the Supreme Court and since that our funding issues are akin to Louisiana and Oklahoma and their respective Supreme Court rulings on funding, so fuck you Seattle arrogant assholes.  We have always been the reverse Oreo, with vanilla wafers on the outside, milk chocolate inside. *note: milk not dark.

So today we have "International" Schools not the same as International Baccalaureate schools, STEM, E STEM and of course the AP schools and alternative or ALE's as they are called as a way to integrate said schools.  But I spent a good hour last year talking to a Senior at a high school who was the last of the kids affected by this change.  The next two years that followed that decision was a year that led to schools being closed (my personal favorite the African American Academy by a Superintendent who was African American and later fired by the "racially" diverse board for incompetence)  the end of busing and the push for "neighborhood" schools.  And this young man's memory of this was quite clear,  as one year he went to a middle school with black kids and then he didn't.  His high school has a mixed group of kids but they are there for its arts program and of course sports.  This school is in every way an archetype of a school of another era - a regular school filled to the rim with kids who live in the hood and this hood is white and middle class.  And that school's last scandal of rape and assault was that same year and has been literally free of scandal since, while the same style of school (heavy sports and AP courses) located in the "integrated"  district cannot say the same.

And that is what the school population reflects today. I travel the district and it shows in the classes, the curriculum, the test scores and the overall dynamic of a school.  As I pointed out last week a largely whiter school has few minorities and the reality is that these kids have challenges that allow them to stand out in more ways than one.  So if you think that they will perform academically or behaviorially the same, then you need to get your white privleged ass in there to see for yourself.   It explains why the two boys at the center of the masturbation video are both minority students of two respective racial groups.  And no it is not racist to point that out, it is a matter of fact and it is not to say their race is the reason but it is the simple fact that we have little to know about either boys families but we do know that being different is enough of a reason and we have little to know about what that feels like during a time in adolescent that feeling different is enough of a challenge.

Just throwing kids together is not enough to elminate racisim nor prevent income inequity, it again as I wrote a fact that begins at birth and can determine one's track "professionally" by age 4.   And that is what you are until 18, a professional student,  who receives for free an opportunity to learn and go on with whatever professional pursuits you are enabled to with the degree you receive. But the catch is that that paper is worth about the same cost of printing ink and paper.  The reality for some the paper is just the hurdle to jump over; those with families, income and opportunity have little respect for that paper it is on to the next to them and for some it may be the only paper they or their family will ever receive.

So below I share the article about Freddie Gray and his life and in turn death.  It was as if it was predetermined.

And so goes the Days of Our Lives.........

Why you should know what happened in Freddie Gray’s life — long before his death

By Janell Ross
The Washington Post
December 19 2015

The general statistical profile of the West Baltimore community where Freddie Grey grew up is something most people think they know, even if the details are not committed to memory.

Here is the truth: The abbreviated and not at all easy life of Freddie Gray was, to some extent, shaped by Gray's choices. He was an American and an adult with at least some of the attendant free will that people assume comes with either status.

But it is also a life altered and quite likely distorted by the net effects of where and how the wealthy country into which he was born and its voters have decided to distribute its resources. Freddie Gray was an American failed more often by his country than served by it. And yet again this week, after a mistrial was declared in the first of six cases against police officers in whose custody Gray died, only the details of his death have become the subject of any real and sustained public discussion.

In this, an already heated presidential election cycle, there is much more about the life of Freddie Gray that is worthy of examination — real political issues. You see, Baltimore might be the biggest city in one of the nation's wealthiest states. But for the people in many of its neighborhoods, those resources are most readily used in ways that a growing body of economists, sociologists and mental health experts now argue do far more harm than good.

In the area where Gray lived, data-finding efforts often group a trio of communities as one — Sandtown-Winchester/Harlem Park. Here, the unemployment rate averaged a stunning 51.8 percent between 2008 and 2012, according to a Justice Policy Institute report published in February. More than 30 percent of those who are fortunate enough to have jobs must travel 45 minutes or more to get to them. The median household income hovers just over $24,000 a year, and in 2012, there were roughly 19 deaths for every 1,000 people between the ages of 15 and 24.

A full 25 percent of children ages 10 to 17 have spent time in a juvenile facility. That's a quarter of Sandtown-Winchester/Harlem Park children. That figure is also roughly equal to the share of kids in these communities who are likely to graduate from high school. And more than 7 percent of these same children have levels of lead in their blood — impulse-control and academic-ability-damaging lead — that meet or exceed the state standard for poisoning. Average life expectancy is 68.8 years. And the immediate area where Gray lived does not have a single grocery store or even a fast food restaurant.
Freddie Gray's West Baltimore was and is the kind of community that those who have other options try to avoid, and those who must live there have to cope with the full knowledge that the odds are truly stacked against them and their children. And should they manage to move elsewhere, some of the same challenges would follow.

The homicide rate in the whole of Baltimore is the nation's fifth-worst, behind only Detroit, New Orleans, Newark and St. Louis. As recently as 2013, 9.9 — yes, nearly 10 percent — of children born in Baltimore arrived too soon (before 37 weeks gestation), putting them at increased risk of a wide range of long-term health and social problems beginning with low birth weight, early death and academic difficulties. (The figures are even worse for black children in Baltimore and across the country, for reasons that researchers suspect have a lot to do with stress and the overall health of black women.)

 When a pair of Harvard researchers examined what, if any, impact the actual place where a person lives, receives their education, etc., has on their long-term economic prospects, they ranked Baltimore at the bottom of their list. A 26-year-old man who spent his entire childhood in Baltimore earns about 28 percent less each year than he would if he had grown up in 100 other major cities, the study found.

Perhaps most telling of all, though, is this. Almost every disadvantage, challenge and public spending decision described in the paragraphs above had a direct and real effect on Gray's short life. Arguably, they also had something to do with his death and the heated political debate about policing and Black Lives Matter in which the country is now engaged.
In 1989, Gray was born two months premature, one half of a boy-girl set of twins. Almost two decades later, Gray's mother told lawyers collecting her testimony in a lead exposure civil lawsuit that, at the time her children were born, she could not read, had never attended high school and had begun using heroin in her early 20s (suggesting that she might have used drugs during her pregnancy). Gray and his sister spent the first few months of life in the hospital, so fragile and ill that one of the goals that doctors set for Gray before he could go home sounds almost elemental to infant life as suck, swallow or breathe: Gray had to gain five pounds.

That minimal milestone reached, Gray went home to a succession of West Baltimore apartments, most of them public housing, where both conditions and eligibility have an almost direct connection to public budgets and the politics of the moment. And in the public housing units where Gray lived, lead-infused paint was peeling from the walls and the windowsills with such intensity that before his 2nd birthday, Gray tested positive for concentrations of lead in his blood more than seven times the level that child health experts now believe can cause severe and permanent brain damage.

 If the magnitude of that misses you, consider what a lead expert told The Washington Post's Terrence McCoy this year after learning about Gray's childhood lead levels.“Jesus,” Dan Levy, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University who has studied the effects of lead poisoning on youths, gasped when told of Gray’s levels. 

“The fact that Mr. Gray had these high levels of lead in all likelihood affected his ability to think and to self-regulate and profoundly affected his cognitive ability to process information.”Levy added, “And the real tragedy of lead is that the damage it does is irreparable.”

Then consider this: Lead paint exposure is a widespread national problem, concentrated most heavily in the nation's low-income communities. And government efforts to remove lead paint from public and privately owned housing remains woefully below levels that most child and environmental health experts think truly necessary to eliminate the issue. In fact, the nation's lead paint abatement programs are among those that experienced a budget cut due to sequestration and subsequent federal cost reduction efforts.

Two decades ago, when Gray was entering a West Baltimore public school where many other children were, like him, born premature and then exposed to damaging levels of lead, it wasn't long before Gray began to struggle. He and his sisters were diagnosed with attention deficit disorders and impulse control problems. School officials moved Gray into special education classrooms.

By the time he reached high school, Gray attended a West Baltimore institution where he had the opportunity to play football but never graduated. Still, had he been in better academic standing, his learning options still would have remained remarkably limited.

Today, Gray's high school is what researchers at the University of California Los Angles have described as an "apartheid school," where in 2011 — the most recent comprehensive federal data available — less than 1 percent of the student body is white and 98.7 percent black. Nearly half of the school's teachers were absent from work more than 10 days during that same school year, nearly 20 percent were inexperienced and teaching for the first time, and just more than 79 percent of students came from families poor enough to receive free and reduced-price meals.
This has since changed, but much else has not.

By the time Gray reached his 18th birthday, he had been suspended several times from school and had a few run-ins with police outside of it. Then, as BuzzFeed reported, his first adult arrest for a non-violent drug crime actually occurred in almost the same spot as his final one.

Police officers who patrol West Baltimore deliver the arrest, chase and conviction stats that eventually form the basis of those tough-on-crime speeches that politicians (until quite recently, at least) clamored to make. And officers in this area had contact with Gray so often that, the Baltimore Sun and The Washington Post have reported, many officers knew Gray by name.

The arrests were followed by stints in jail that prompted Gray's family and friends to do business repeatedly with bail bondsmen, enter into bail installment plans, payday loans and legal settlement buy-outs which made the network's already uncertain financial situation even more difficult. And prosecutors, aware that charges will never stick, leave defendants unable to make bail in jail as a form of punishment. This too is a widespread problem — one that Justice Department officials have said is costing Americans their jobs and homes, and might be contributing to a cycle of crime. None of these practices are illegal, of course.

More often than not, in Gray's cases, prosecutors later dropped those charges. You see, in a community where public funds are directed mostly toward a certain type of policing and making arrests, a large portion of those cases can't stand up in court or produce the kind of evidence needed — especially when it comes to Baltimore juries that are increasingly unwilling to convict.
And it seems that Gray's dependence on what are known around Baltimore as "lead checks" (civil lawsuit settlement payments) was something he'd come to accept as an essential part of his life. With the settlement funds, Gray — who an off-and-on girlfriend and several neighbors have described as fun-loving and known to sing off-key in public simply to make people laugh — could at least buy a constant supply of new clothes, something he liked.

In the years that followed, Gray was changed with a series of mostly minor crimes — an arrest in a nightclub parking lot, for instance, where Gray and two friends were found in a van smoking marijuana. A court eventually found Gray not guilty. In March, Gray was charged with his first violent crime, for  allegedly assaulting a family friend. Those charges were pending, along with a felony charge for possession of two oxycodone pills, when he died.

On the day of Gray's last arrest on April 12, Gray ran from police. The officers who chased him down found no drugs on Gray, but said that his flight and his presence in a known open-air drug market gave them "probable cause" to make an arrest. Later, the officers found that Gray did have a knife.
This is how Freddie Gray lived and died. And there is plenty about it that is very political and very much worthy of a bigger debate than we're having.

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