Tag Archives: Economic Disparity

So, you think Dr. Ben Carson is an evil Christian conservative bast**d: A tale of Seattle Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center

14 Dec

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: moi read the following Seattle Weekly article by Vernal Coleman, Langston Hughes’ Next Act: The arts venue has fostered generations of black artists—but can it keep going without city tax dollars?

Pending approval from the council, the city will continue as owner of the theater property, while responsibility for its programming and funding is handed to a nonprofit.

“I think everyone knows that there is some risk involved, and that this isn’t necessarily going to be a slam-dunk,” says Councilman Nick Licata. “I think the key thing here is for the city government to play an active role in making a successful effort.”

How successful that effort is depends largely on how soon the proposed nonprofit can replace the city’s subsidy, which could be difficult. Midsize theater companies like Langston Hughes—those with annual budgets between $200,000 and $1.2 million—are typically the most difficult to fund, says Jim Kelly, executive director of King County arts agency 4Culture. “They’re the ones that are large enough to need contributed income, but don’t have that deep well of supporters that larger organizations like a Seattle Repertory Theater have.”

According to the committee’s draft plan, the proposed nonprofit will be operational by the beginning of the fiscal year 2016 and ready to fully assume the theater’s financial obligations by 2018. That gives the city roughly four years to establish the organization’s nonprofit status and recruit a leadership board to help generate through fundraising what the theater cannot earn.

And if previous earnings are any indication, the fundraising burden would be significant. Langston Hughes was closed for building upgrades for two years beginning in spring 2010. It did not reopen until May 2012, making a full accounting of its budget hard to come by.

But according to budget figures obtained from the city, Langston Hughes brought in just $70,880 in ticket and rental fees during the 2012 fiscal year. That’s up from the $56,963 it earned in 2009, the year before the renovations.

Compare those numbers to Langston Hughes’ operating costs: In fiscal year 2013, Langston Hughes was budgeted $745,698 by the city, the bulk of which was devoted to staff pay. The 2014 proposed budget bumps that total up to $809,180.

Drawing bigger-ticket shows could ensure a healthier bottom line—but that might distract from the organization’s traditional mission of nurturing talented writers. Office of Arts and Culture Director Randy Engstrom says he expects the Institute will be able to do both….http://www.seattleweekly.com/home/950153-129/langston-hughes-next-act

Emily Heffler detailed Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center’s (Langston Hughes) challenges in the Seattle Times article, Langston Hughes center’s city subsidy under review http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2020241221_langstonhughesxml.html
The problem is that there is not sufficient capital in many communities of color to sustain the organizations which nurture their cultural identity.

What many ask, doesn’t government exist to support cultural institutions? Well, tell that to the Detroit bankruptcy trustee. See, Detroit Institute of Art May Sell Paintings and Sculptures To Pay Off Bankruptcy http://www.bustle.com/articles/10067-detroit-institute-of-art-may-sell-paintings-and-sculptures-to-pay-off-bankruptcy Many communities of color have like Blanche Dubois:

I have always depended on the kindness of strangers. TENNESSEE WILLIAMS, A Streetcar Named Desire

There is very little capital in the African American community to sustain cultural institutions.

Michael A Fletcher wrote in the Washington Post article, Fifty years after March on Washington, economic gap between blacks, whites persists:

When it comes to household income and wealth, the gaps between blacks and whites have widened. On other measures, the gaps are roughly the same as they were four decades ago. The poverty rate for blacks, for instance, continues to be about three times that of whites.

“The relative position of blacks has not changed economically since the march,” said William Darity Jr., a professor of public policy, economics and African American studies at Duke University. “Certainly, poverty has declined for everybody, but it has declined in a way that the proportion of blacks to whites who are poor is about the same as it was 50 years ago….”http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-08-27/business/41486283_1_jesse-jackson-jr-blacks-whites

See, These ten charts show the black-white economic gap hasn’t budged in 50 years http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/08/28/these-seven-charts-show-the-black-white-economic-gap-hasnt-budged-in-50-years/ It is that same lack of capital which makes the situation of Langston Hughes so precarious.

The question all communities of color should be asking is how can they begin to accumulate capital? One idea was put forth by Dr. Ben Carson, a Black Christian conservative. Here is what Dr. Carson proposed:

“When a person is born, give him a birth certificate, an electronic medical record, and a health-savings account to which money can be contributed–pretax–from the time you’re born till the time you die. If you die, you can pass it on to your family members . . . and there’s nobody talking about death panels.” http://www.ontheissues.org/2016/Ben_Carson_Health_Care.htm

This is one proposal which allows communities of color to begin to develop capital resources within the community.

Dr. Carson’s ideas and those of any other Christian conservative will never be considered, particularly if they are people of color. Star Parker, a Black conservative, wrote in the article, Why the left attacks Ben Carson: ‘Liberals never take on what black conservatives actually say, because they can’t’ :

Ben Carson is the biggest threat to liberals since Bill Cosby got out of line at an NAACP banquet in Washington, D.C., in 2004.

Cosby had the temerity to deliver tough, critical talk about what too many blacks are doing with the freedom civil rights activists of the 1960s fought to achieve.

He contrasted the ’60s generation with the new generation of black youth sitting in jail. “… [T]hese are not political criminals. These are people going around stealing Coca Cola. People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake.”

Cosby attributed the chaos to breakdown in values, family and personal responsibility. It’s the last thing the NAACP crowd wanted to hear that night, and he paid a price. Cosby was vilified and marginalized until he backed off.

Liberals never take on what black conservatives actually say, because they can’t. So the attacks become personal.

Trillions of taxpayers’ dollars have been poured into black communities over the last half-century, producing virtually no change in the incidence of black poverty.

Yet, Ben Carson, through diligence and traditional values, achieved on his own what those trillions of dollars of government programs were supposed to deliver.

Liberal black writer Ta-Nehisi Coates put the cards on the table in an article about Cosby that appeared in 2008 in the The Atlantic magazine. The typical black conservative votes for Democrats, he notes, “not out of love for abortion rights … but because he feels … that the modern-day GOP draws on support of people who hate him.”

So stoking paranoia about racism has always been the strategy of liberals to fend off the political threat of conservative values that so many churchgoing blacks embrace.

Predictably, Coates has produced a New York Times column on Carson, reducing this great man to the usual caricature of a black empty suit manipulated by white conservatives.

Ben Carson is an accomplished and wealthy man. Americans, certainly black Americans, need him in public life more than he needs to be in public life. Let’s hope the left wing and the haters of traditional morality don’t succeed in making him conclude it’s not worth it. http://www.wnd.com/2013/04/why-the-left-attacks-ben-carson/

The only long term solution for communities of color is accumulating capital within communities of color.

This commentary has come full circle. Langston Hughes is a mid-sized arts facility and to be fair, mid-sized arts facilities have challenges. Add to those challenges the fact that it is located in a community of color and the focus of its offerings are aimed at communities of color. The question is whether any institution focused on a community of color has a chance of survival if the only source of revenue is a government subsidy?

Moi would urge those folk of color who reflex ably stop listening when any conservative speaks to heed the words of the Buddha:

“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.” The Buddha

Black economic disparity is firmly entrenched 50 years after the March on Washington on Washington which leads moi to what Albert Einstein said:

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Albert Einstein

Unfortunately, for institutions like Langston Hughes, the light on the road to Damascus may come too late.

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Annie E. Casey Foundation report: The first eight years are crucial

12 Nov

Moi wrote in Jonathan Cohn’s ‘The Two Year Window’ Moi has got plenty to say about hypocrites of the conservative persuasion, those who espouse family values, but don’t live up to them or who support corporate welfare while tossing out that old bromide that individuals must pull themselves up by their bootstraps even if they don’t have shoes.
Because of changes in family structure and the fact that many children are now being raised by single parents, who often lack the time or resources to care for them, we as a society must make children and education a priority, even in a time of lack. I know that many of the conservative persuasion will harp on about personal responsibility, yada, yada, yada. Moi promotes birth control and condoms, so don’t harp on that. Fact is children, didn’t ask to be born to any particular parent or set of parents.

Jonathan Cohn reported about an unprecedented experiment which occurred in Romanian orphanages in the New Republic article, The Two Year Window. There are very few experiments involving humans because of ethical considerations.

Nelson had traveled to Romania to take part in a cutting-edge experiment. It was ten years after the fall of the Communist dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu, whose scheme for increasing the country’s population through bans on birth control and abortion had filled state-run institutions with children their parents couldn’t support. Images from the orphanages had prompted an outpouring of international aid and a rush from parents around the world to adopt the children. But ten years later, the new government remained convinced that the institutions were a good idea—and was still warehousing at least 60,000 kids, some of them born after the old regime’s fall, in facilities where many received almost no meaningful human interaction. With backing from the MacArthur Foundation, and help from a sympathetic Romanian official, Nelson and colleagues from Harvard, Tulane, and the University of Maryland prevailed upon the government to allow them to remove some of the children from the orphanages and place them with foster families. Then, the researchers would observe how they fared over time in comparison with the children still in the orphanages. They would also track a third set of children, who were with their original parents, as a control group.
In the field of child development, this study—now known as the Bucharest Early Intervention Project—was nearly unprecedented. Most such research is performed on animals, because it would be unethical to expose human subjects to neglect or abuse. But here the investigators were taking a group of children out of danger. The orphanages, moreover, provided a sufficiently large sample of kids, all from the same place and all raised in the same miserable conditions. The only variable would be the removal from the institutions, allowing researchers to isolate the effects of neglect on the brain….
Drury, Nelson, and their collaborators are still learning about the orphans. But one upshot of their work is already clear. Childhood adversity can damage the brain as surely as inhaling toxic substances or absorbing a blow to the head can. And after the age of two, much of that damage can be difficult to repair, even for children who go on to receive the nurturing they were denied in their early years. This is a revelation with profound implication—and not just for the Romanian orphans.
APPROXIMATELY SEVEN MILLION American infants, toddlers, and preschoolers get care from somebody other than a relative, whether through organized day care centers or more informal arrangements, according to the Census Bureau. And much of that care is not very good. One widely cited study of child care in four states, by researchers in Colorado, found that only 8 percent of infant care centers were of “good” or “excellent” quality, while 40 percent were “poor.” The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has found that three in four infant caregivers provide only minimal cognitive and language stimulation—and that more than half of young children in non-maternal care receive “only some” or “hardly any” positive caregiving. http://www.tnr.com/article/economy/magazine/97268/the-two-year-window?page=0,0&passthru=YzBlNDJmMmRkZTliNDgwZDY4MDhhYmIwMjYyYzhlMjg

Because the ranks of poor children are growing in the U.S., this study portends some grave challenges not only for particular children, but this society and this country. Adequate early learning opportunities and adequate early parenting is essential for proper development in children. https://drwilda.com/2011/12/18/jonathan-cohns-the-two-year-window/

Christina Samuels reported in the Education Week article, Study: Many Young Children Lagging in Cognitive Skills at Age 8:

An analysis of 13,000 young children tracked from kindergarten entry through middle school found that only about a third of them were on track with cognitive skills by 3rd grade, underlining the need for a comprehensive early-childhood education, particularly for low-income children, according to a new report from the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation.
The foundation, which publishes an annual ranking of child well-being called the Kids Count Data Book, released its findings Monday in a policy report called The First Eight Years: Giving Kids a Foundation for Lifetime Success.
The findings are based on the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten, a federally-funded data collection effort that tracked children who were in kindergarten in 1998-99 school year to spring 2007, when most would have been in 8th grade. The federal data collection process asked the participating children questions to assess their literacy, math skills, and science skills. The foundation defines scoring at or above the national average on all three subjects as meeting cognitive development benchmarks.
The data analysis showed that by 3rd grade, 56 percent were on track with physical development, 70 percent with social and emotional growth, and 74 percent in their level of school engagement.
But digging into the numbers revealed disparities between the overall group’s well-being, and the well-being of black children, Hispanic children, and children growing up in poverty. For example, 19 percent of 3rd graders in families with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty line—in 2001, that was $35,920 for a family of four—were hitting their cognitive development milestones. In comparison, 50 percent of children in families above that income level hit that mark.
The analysis also showed that 14 percent of black children and 19 percent of Hispanic children were on track in cognitive development.
The results were striking, said Laura Speer, associate director for policy reform and advocacy for the foundation. Also noteworthy was the connection between family education and income. In more than half of the low-income families with children under age 8, the head of the household had a high school degree or less. In half of the higher-income families, the head of the household had at least a bachelor’s degree.

Here is the press release from Annie E. Casey:

November 4, 2013
Kimberly Varner | 202.706.7404
Sue Lin Chong | 410.223.2836
Can America’s Kids Succeed? Critical Investments Should Target the First Eight Years of Life, Report Finds
Only 36 percent of third graders on track in cognitive development; low-income and minority children faring even worse.
BALTIMORE — The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s latest KIDS COUNT® policy report, The First Eight Years: Giving Kids a Foundation for Lifetime Success, presents a strong case for investing in the early years of a child’s life. Decades of brain and child development research show that kids who enter kindergarten with below-average language and cognitive skills can catch up — but only if they are physically healthy and have strong social and emotional skills.
“All children need nurturing and plentiful opportunities to develop during their crucial first eight years,” said Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Foundation. “Today’s complicated world can strain families’ ability to ensure their children are receiving all the stimulation and care they need to develop to their full potential.”
The report details how a child’s early development across critical areas of well-being is essential to make the effective transition into elementary school and for long-term school success. According to a newly released analysis of the Early Childhood Longitudinal study that began to track 13,000 children who were in kindergarten in 1998-99, by third grade, only 36 percent of children were on track in cognitive knowledge and skills, 56 percent in their physical well-being, 70 percent in their social and emotional growth and 74 percent in their level of school engagement.
The analysis shows that just 19 percent of third-graders in families with income below 200 percent of the poverty level and 50 percent of those in families with incomes above that level had developed age-appropriate cognitive skills. This picture is particularly troubling for children of color, with 14 percent of black children and 19 percent of Hispanic children on track in cognitive development. Children who don’t meet these key developmental milestones often struggle to catch up in school and graduate on time and are less likely to achieve the kind of economic success and stability necessary to support a family themselves.
For children to succeed, classroom learning should be integrated with other aspects of child development, such as social, emotional and physical development, to create opportunities for children to develop the full array of competencies they will need in life. Many states and communities have already begun the work of bringing the programs and services for young children and families into a cohesive system. To prepare all of America’s children for success, the report sets forth three broad policy recommendations:
• Support parents so they can effectively care and provide for their children. States and the federal government should make it easier for parents to navigate the array of programs that can help families by aligning and streamlining benefits packages. Children also benefit when their parents have opportunities to gain education and skills, and when their parents have well-paying, good jobs and the chance to build a career.
• Increase access to high-quality birth-through-age-8 programs, beginning with investments that target low-income children. The report urges states to adopt Early Learning and Development Standards that set clear expectations for child development. Investing to ensure that all children reach important benchmarks, such as grade-level reading proficiency by third grade, will pay long term dividends. In addition to having high-quality care and education for all kids, states should ensure access to affordable and comprehensive health care with timely screenings that can catch disabilities or developmental delays in young children.
• Develop comprehensive, integrated programs and data systems to address all aspects of children’s development and support their transition to elementary school and related programs for school-age children. States should use consistent measures of child development that provide broad assessments of well-being, including progress across key aspects of development. Coordinated educational efforts should use transition planning models that help children move successfully through the birth-through-8 system.
The First Eight Years: Giving Kids a Foundation for Lifetime Success includes data on early childhood development for every state, the District of Columbia and the nation. Additional information is available in the KIDS COUNT Data Center, which also contains the most recent national, state and local data on hundreds of indicators of child well-being. The Data Center allows users to create rankings, maps and graphs for use in publications and on websites, and to view real-time information on mobile devices.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. For more information, visitwww.aecf.org. KIDS COUNT® is a registered trademark of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Download the news release — Can America’s Kids Succeed? Critical Investments Should Target the First Eight Years of Life, Report Finds — as a PDF.

Click to access AECFTheFirstEightYears2013.pdf

Cohn recognizes that in a time of economic distress it is difficult to call for massive spending on parent support and early learning programs, but that is what he says the implications of the Romanian study are if early damage to poor children is to be avoided. A conference where MIT was a participant described the economic benefit of early childhood programs web.mit.edu/workplacecenter/docs/Full%20Report.pdf NPR has an audio debate about the MIT report http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4605569

Legislators are correct in their prudence about the budget, but the question is whether they are being, as the saying goes, “penny wise and pound foolish.” So much of economic development and full employment is based on an educated and skilled population. Third world countries are undeveloped for many reasons including unsustainable debt, corruption, and being disadvantaged in the world system of trade. One of the primary reasons that third world countries are third world is the limited education opportunity for the majority of their population.

Politics has always been a tough business, the Ides of March is one example of how brutal politics can be. Many times those who serve do so under tough conditions, often with little thanks. Still it is time to recognize that there must be some investments made for the future and early childhood programs are an example of necessary investment. Just as there are those who reflex ably say no to school choice, there are those who just as reflex ably say no to investing in this country’s future.
Cohn’s article is a must read.


The changing face of poverty
Millions of Americans live in poverty, more families are suffering and hunger is seen growing. (more) http://money.cnn.com/2004/12/22/news/economy/poverty_overview/index.htm

Hard at work but can’t buy food
While the ranks of the working poor grow in number, should employers step up to stop the trend? (more) http://money.cnn.com/2004/12/16/news/economy/poverty_corporate/index.htm

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