This weekend I watched Michigan’s NCAA semi final game. Upon the game’s conclusion I reminisced with my house guests about my time at the UM in the late 70s. One of my guests, a middle aged black professional educator, grew tired of hearing about my good times in Ann Arbor. She asked me about my intellectual conversations on social issues with other black graduate students. One such conversation immediately came to mind and I shared it with my guests. I recounted my discussion with a doctoral candidate in education of the implications, good and bad, of the 1965 Moynihan Report.
This post offers strategies for breaking Moynihan’s “cycle of poverty.” Though the strategies are well thought-out, if implement they would all fail to improve the educational performance of inner city kids. The cycle of educational deprivation would continue unabated.
Over the past four decades the U.S. has spent billions trying to improve urban education. Politicians and educators have employed creative educational models designed to assist and encourage the urban child to learn better. Parents have demanded more from schools and teachers, believing that their child’s education begins and ends at school. Cities have closed failing schools because, according to the politicians’ and school administrators’ logic, the students would learn if they were properly educated.
I agree with the central premise of this post; parents should (must) assume a primary role in the education of their children. What we as a society have not been able to figure out is how to get inner city parents to do this. There is no political will to hold a parent’s benefits hostage to their child’s educational progress. Furthermore, there is no meaningful correlation between the receipt of benefits and the quality of a child’s education.
A parent who has no real aptitude for education will not ensure a quality education for their child. The child cannot be expected to offer his or her child the support necessary to obtain a quality education. Since an education is often a vehicle out of poverty, the lack of an education perpetuates poverty. It might be time to seriously consider educating inner city kids away from their families.