One of America’s bluest cities has found a way to keep kids safe, at least some of the time. With shootings in Chicago up 45 percent in 2016, the city has been literally walking students to school each morning. The New York Times reports:
About 1,300 workers dressed in neon-green vests stand within eyeshot of one another on 142 designated routes. According to the city, no child has ever been a victim of a serious incident while Safe Passage workers have been on duty.
“We’re those kids’ parents from the time they’re leaving home to the time they’re getting to school, because those are our babies,” said Lakita Pearson, a Safe Passage supervisor on the West Side.
It’s very good that the program is working, but hard to hear that it’s even necessary. Read the whole article and watch the short documentary for a glimpse of how dangerous daily routines are in Chicago.
Meanwhile, over at Vox, John McWhorter examines a half-century of failed attempts to improve life in America’s inner cities. Reviewing Michael Woodsworth’s The Battle for Bed-Stuy: The Long War on Poverty in New York City, McWhorter writes:
Describing the Bed-Stuy of the ’50s and ’60s, Woodsworth sketches a neighborhood where as dismayed as residents were at the time — and as underperforming as institutions like schools were — single parenting was not yet a norm and murder rates were nothing like they have been since. There is a poignancy in the book, with its welter of acronyms (enough to require a key at the front of book) referring to programs that were ardently cherished at the time but by now forgotten — APOB, CAA, DNS, MFY, R&R, YIA, CHIP (which was something other than today’s health insurance program for children).
Today’s Workforce Investment Act used to be the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act of 1973, which in turn began as the Manpower Development Training Act. President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper is a modern version of Bed-Stuy’s similarly intentioned Youth in Action program or Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited.
And despite the intense commitment of so very many undersung heroes, many of whom were women giving their lives to the anti-poverty effort while raising children and holding down jobs, none of these early programs made any real difference. Few could deny a simple fact about Bedford-Stuyvesant: There is all but no indication today that a Great Society effort ever occurred.
Read the whole thing to see why McWhorter thinks the Great Society programs and their descendants have been so unsuccessful. One important takeaway is that blue governance is failing black America. In places with Democrat-controlled blue model-style governments, low-income African Americans are still struggling mightily. There have been some successes, but not many.
And it’s about to get worse: As city and state budgets are squeezed by unfunded pension obligations, black Americans will suffer as much if not more than anyone. Disproportionately, they hold civil service jobs and rely on programs which are often the first to be cut when money is tight. We hope more policymakers will engage in serious conversations with people like McWhorter about smarter approaches (public and private) to fighting poverty and violence in these communities.