Thursday, November 2, 2017

Priorities Matter

I think I spend most of my time trying to find ways to prove how Racism and Classicism dominate the South as they are not mutually exclusive, and in turn further marginalize those in the lower economic classes,  and to use an appalling word, "enslaving" those to a life on the lower rungs of lifes ladder to climb.

The biggest tool is supposedly education. Let's put that trope to rest shall we?  Schools are more segregated than they were 40 years ago. We have massive income inequality that further divide and in turn conquer.   The South loves to claim many things and particularly here in Nashville the "it" city but the facts matter (well not so much in the south).

The public schools here are of course divided by race and class.  The numbers run as such:

MNPS is 42% Black, 29% White, and 25% Hispanic. But if you look at second graders the percentages are 39% Black, 25% Hispanic, 31% White. When you look at 6th grade, it breaks down 43% Black, 26% Hispanic, 27% White. In 9th grade it is 43% Black, 25% Hispanic, and 27% White. In 12th grade it is 48% Black, 21% Hispanic, and 32% White. Total enrollment for 2nd grade is 6999, 6th grade is 6571, 9th is 5859, and 12th is 5122.

Taking a  look at Pre-k:  For Pre-K 4 out of 2917 students, 44% are Black, 22% are Hispanic, and 29% are White. 

This further demonstrates that as children age up in the system the bleed of White students continues with an odd uptick in 12th grade.  I suspect it has to do with the idea of being the biggest fish a little pond of academic success so in turn qualify for loans and grants and the misconception that this same student was in an integrated environment for four years and is a "good" student.  There are lies and misconceptions here that cannot be ignored.

The number of FRL (free and reduced lunch) is the Scarlet letter of a school    Nashville had in 2014 72% of their students qualify so to remove the stigma they in turn made lunches free for all; additionally they provide breakfast for Elementary and Middle school students.   Then in turn it lessens the impact of a school designated by the label FRL which in turn causes Parents to look elsewhere to educate their likely white and of course above average child.   I will point out that the food quality is appalling and led to one high school having a walkout over the food last year.  But it is free and one never says no to a free lunch.   But again does this measure mean anything and by removing that measurement tool Nashville has nothing to compare or measure.  That may be the point.   Priorities matter.

I have long commented that the concepts of accessibility and availability are on par with equality and equity. They are not the same and have clear distinctions that are usually defined by money.  Those who have it have it those who don't can but don't.  Priorities matter.

So when I read this article about pre-term births I shrugged.  That is my de facto response these days when I read article after article in our local news that discusses what restaurant is opening or what property sold for millions, I troll down the page and find this buried under sports.  Priorities matter.

I cannot tell you the damage the Black and Hispanic children I meet.  I meet many Middle Eastern/European children as well but ultimately the most significant behavior problems and issues that exist are with Black children.  There are fights daily on campuses across the spectrum.  As I wrote last week at being at a school where  Student head butted a Teacher.  But the fights are no longer recorded so we get no information as to schools that have a predominate amount of problems and in turn know anything about the environment we are walking into.  I also shared the story about the school that has had 60 fights this year and are working on climate change.  I am sure it will be the same as the one we have with regards to the other environment.    This is the South.    Priorities matter.

It is because of those observations and experiences that had led me to question my own values and believes about race until I asked of all people an Uber driver who was Black and from California what was happening to me.  He told me it was the South and the way the dynamics are set up it is to ensure that the myth of equality exists but the reality is just a unicorn held up as something unattainable and unreal. And in turn those largely affected by it finally give up and resign themselves to a life less lived.   And in turn Children who do not have the barometer or filter yet still demonstrate the frustration and confusion that is their lives.  I cannot make excuses anymore I just accept it and in turn want to get as far away from this as soon as possible.  Priorities matter.

I am at the prestigious high school today in Special Ed.  It is all white and all the kids are articulate and polite and the "bad" kid I met last week is the most funny smart kid I have met and hence that in this school is perhaps the worst they have so they do in fact suspend kids but for a day or two.  They no longer do with minority children and have attempted to establish a restorative justice program, the same program that led 40% of a school in Highline District in Seattle to walk out and a Teacher to write a blog in length discussing the level of fear that existed in the school and the climate that resulted from failing to have a program that worked with Students at risk. 

When you are born prematurely, fed garbage, take drugs earlier, live in an environment literally our environment that has dangerous air and water, to a family marginalized, who don't speak English, who themselves were the victims of violence or terror be it domestic or international, the children have no future,  just existence.    Violence begets violence and it is not easy to escape despite best efforts.  Just ask those who suffered at the hands of the New York terrorist, San Bernadino, Orlando. The reality is that Religion is not the reason, anger is and anger emerges in destruction - to self or to others.

We do little to help those climb out and upward.  We like to ensure our own place on the ladder the rest be damned.  Priorities matter.




Tennessee gets 'D' for preterm babies, raising concerns about women's health

Holly Fletcher, USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee Published Nov. 1, 2017 |

The number of babies born prematurely in Tennessee increased from 2015 to 2016 — a trend that underscores disparities in women's health around the state, a maternal health expert said.
Overall, Tennessee earned a "D" for its preterm birth rate of 11.3 percent in 2016 from March of Dimes, a nonprofit focused on pregnancy and the health of babies.

The counties with the highest preterm birth rates in the state:

Hamilton: 13 percent
Shelby:  12.6 percent
Rutherford: 10.5 percent
Davidson: 10.4 percent (Nashville)
Knox: 9.7 percent
Montgomery: 9 percent

The data is troubling to Dr. Kimberlee Wyche-Ethridge, assistant director for public health practice at Meharry Medical College, because of what it means about the status of women's health and factors that influence health — such as education, housing and food — across the state.

"We’re not doing enough to make sure all of our babies are being born to thrive and survive,” said Wyche-Etheridge. "Babies are the canary in the coal mine. They are a measure of how healthy a community, a state or a society is. If we see that our babies aren't doing well, we know our communities aren’t doing well.”

Black women had highest percentage of preterm births from 2013 to 2015 with 14.3 percent. White women came in second with 10.2 percent followed by Hispanic women with 9.1 percent and Asian/Pacific Islander women with 8.4 percent.

March of Dimes has a goal of a nationwide rate of 8.1 percent by 2020. Preterm birth rates worsened in more than 40 states. Tennessee is one of 11 states and Washington, D.C., to receive a "D" on the Premature Birth Report Card.

In 2007, 11.8 percent of babies born in Tennessee were preterm, or before 37 weeks. Since then, the rate dipped to 10.8 percent in 2014, only to climb back in the succeeding years.
The organization is calling for more research and education about the social factors that impact health, ranging from neighborhood safety to income and jobs.

There are state and local initiatives aimed at reducing preterm births, which can lead to lifelong chronic problems as the person grows.

Focusing on women's health before they become pregnant is important, Wyche-Etheridge said, because it lays better groundwork for healthy babies.

"Since prematurity hits every aspect of the community, no one is protected per se, and we have to take care of all of our women in all of our families so all of our babies have a chance at a healthy start.”

Health screenings and controlling high blood pressure, weight and diabetes are important factors in a woman's health before she becomes pregnant, said Wyche-Etheridge, a public health pediatrician who has worked on maternal health issues for 20 years. Reducing stress is vital, she said, noting that can come from worrying about finances, housing or other facets of life.

Davidson County public health officials analyzed the preterm births by neighborhood and found a wide discrepancy. Babies born to women who live in The Nations and North Nashville were twice as likely to have a low birth weight or be preterm than those born to women who live in Sylvan Park, the neighborhood on the other side of Charlotte Pike.

Wyche-Etheridge said preterm pregnancies can have a cyclical impact on communities.
"What we find is her health prior to pregnancy is key, which means if we don’t have a community that values women’s health then women are not going into a pregnancy in tip-top shape," said Wyche-Etheridge.

"Without healthy babies, it's less likely we have healthy adults, and we can't have a healthy state."

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