View From Here: On Education
When you look at the relationship between education and crime, the better educated the person, the less prone they are to crime, then you can see where President Obama was right in his emphasis on education in his State of the Union address. And that Governor Andrew Cuomo’s call for cutting the education budget, echoing the call from Republicans in the House of Representatives, can be considered a “make-work” program for people in the criminal justice and social welfare system, because that is where you find the major beneficiaries of a poorly educated African-American population.
In an interview to be published next week in Our Time Press, Hon. Randolph Jackson, Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York (ret.) said, “When I was sitting in the criminal part of the court, I would have eighty cases a week and if I had one white defendant, it was a lot. In a whole week.” And then speaking of crime as big business, Judge Jackson says, “There’s an advantage to Blacks and Latinos going to jail. It’s like fuel for the fire. Throw a couple of more logs on the fire and we all can be heated and warm. If Blacks and Latinos stopped going to jail today, the whole system would be thrown into chaos.”
You can see it in Steve Witt’s “Police Beat” column in OTP, as it brings front-and-center daily examples of misshapen human potential expressing itself in the most negative of ways. As Judge Jackson says of his experience in the bench, “One of the things that came to mind when I was in Criminal Court was ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’ Because before you sentence someone you receive a pre-sentencing report that tells you something about the home life and the background. And invariably, they have poor home lives. Very rarely do they come from intact family situations. Always, there is someone else raising them, not the mother or the father. It’s sad to see. And I used to think to myself, if this fellow had my mother he wouldn’t be here and if I had his, I might be in his shoes. So it occasioned a lot of compassion in me because I don’t think anybody is born a criminal, but people become criminals due to circumstances oftentimes beyond their control.”
And it is those circumstances which bring to mind the new book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother a somewhat “tongue-in-cheek” chronicle of the parenting style of Yale law professor Amy Chua who calls it “the Chinese parenting model,” of believing the child is capable of the best and demanding of the child that they bring it out. To help them in that effort, Ms. Chua removed distractions such as television, video games and noisome friends. She substitutes structure and direction and her girls have grown to have exceptional skills. When you look at the success on world tests of students in provinces of Shanghai, you have to assume that Professor Chua’s portrait of the importance of education in the Chinese household is closer to the truth than not.
We were looking at a television show with a panel of comfortably coiffed women, all of whom were certainly making well into six figures a year, speaking of the trials they have raising their children to excel comparing their methods to Ms. Chua’s. I think a starker comparison could be drawn between the parenting styles of Professor Chua and the mothers and fathers of the children who were led into Judge Jackson’s courtroom, who we’ve heard in the street curising their child as an overrseer might, and who send them to school with a contagious readiness to fail. These parents are hobbled by their own internal trauma, miseducation and constant struggle for survival while being bombarded 24/7-365, just as their children are, with multibillion-dollar commercial pressures scientifically engineered to cause desire and distraction. But the children need to be helped anyway.
Cutting money for education may be an effective way to ensure work for guards, police, attorney’s and clerks, while providing a talent vacuum and an attractive environment for better-educated immigrants to come into, but it is an effort which must be fought tooth-and-nail by those who want to see the school-to-prison pipeline shut down so that African-Americans can be a full part of that future that President Obama assured us, is right around the corner.