Relative family values

Paul DeMarco, a potential charter member of the Unparty from Marion County, had the following to say in response to this post:

I do agree that more fairly allocating funds to poor districts like ours will help…

But there is no amount of money that can repair the disintegration
of the family. Many students in our district enter K-4 or K-5 already
so far behind they will never catch up and the most important single
factor holding them back is lack of a stable two parent family. If a
child spends his pre-school years in a single parent home he has been
handicapped in a way that is very difficult to overcome. My hat goes
off to the single parents who are doing their best to make it work but
we all know that two parents paddling in the same direction will take a
child farther than one.

This issue (the disintegration of the family, particularly in the black community) seems to be the elephant in the living room….

Why are we not focused on this issue? Is is something that people feel
is inevitable or simply too overwhelming to address comprehensively?

Later, Dave wrote:

Paul, You hit the nail right on the head but you will never see the
State publish (in print) what you just wrote. We all know that one of
the reasons, if not the main reason, that this problem cannot be solved
is that if someone acknowledges the true problem, then you will be
attacked by the race-baiters. As a result, we as a society peck away at
symptoms of the problem, while politely ignoring the cultural
dysfunction inherent in many black families. Keep in mind there is a
major political party, called Democrats, who give lip service to fixing
the problem, but in reality it is in the Democrats interest to have a
huge voting block living on the welfare plantation….

Paul, demonstrating the sort of lively debate we’d be likely to have at Unparty meetings, came back with:


How do you respond to Dave’s complaint that the State is too timid
about identifying single-parent families as a major source of society’s
Also, it seems to me that on this and other issues our focus should be
on trying to come up with viable solutions/interventions rather than
simply debating.

After all that — and partly because that thread is scattered through a 36-comment conversation among multiple parties, meaning that lots of folks might miss it — I thought I’d respond in a separate post, as follows:


The issue isn’t whether The State is "too timid;" it’s whether there’s a public policy issue to be addressed. In the conventional sense, there’s not. But once you start talking about the state getting into pre-K development, you are into unconventional territory. So let’s explore it.

Up to now, our concern has been what to do with the reality that faces our public schools: There are children out there with only one or no parents — or parents who don’t give a damn about them or their education — and what are we going to do about those kids? We can rant all we want about how that shouldn’t happen, but it does, and it’s not the kids’ fault. So we end up about where Judge Cooper did — we need to do something to help those kids whose parents have failed them. It’s the well-established principle of the state acting in loco parentis under extreme circumstances.

But if you’re talking about acting to prevent such situations from arising, you’re getting into areas that give the civil libertarians fits (which, come to think of it, might be enough reason to go there in and of itself). Are we going to license reproduction … outlaw bastardy … make the term "illegitimate" true to its Latin root, as in "not lawful?" What would be the penalties for the inevitable breaches? And what would you do with the children who are the products of such illegal activity? Actually, that brings us back to where we already are…

Personally, I’m for going the non-governmental route and simply resurrecting shame as a salutary force in our society. I’ve been for that for a long time. My being for it, though, hasn’t done much to stem the tidal wave of shamelessness I see washing all around me.

Maybe we should make shame a plank in the Unparty platform. What do you think?

40 thoughts on “Relative family values

  1. Mark Whittington

    Brad my friend,

    You are missing the point. You’re trying to fix a statistical problem involving large numbers of historically oppressed people with a personal responsibility argument. You sound just like the Guardians Of Privilege. Most of these parents are not purposely failing their children-our system has been quite purposely failing the parents. It wasn’t a bunch of black guys that conjured up neo-liberalism 35 years ago. The concept of replacing normal human interactions with artificial economic exchanges to maximize return on investment was the brainchild of a bunch white folks in pinstriped suits. Next time you go to the Zippy Mart at 2:00 am, think about what I am saying. Think about the black (or working class white) people behind the counter working weird hours and rotating shifts. How are they supposed to properly bring up a child, or afford daycare? These folks are working and are trying to eek out a living-so in your opinion, are they irresponsible? Do you really think that they don’t give a damn? What about people who have to work shift-work at manufacturing plants? I’ve known people who almost never see their spouses or children because they’re forced to work second shift to make ends meet. How can you help your kid with his algebra homework if you’re never home and/or you’ve never taken algebra? How can you be a role model when the economic system (and your management) treats you like a second-class piece of crap? Will your children respect you and try to emulate you when they see that you are for all practical purposes, doomed? How can people foster their marriages when there is no money and when they hardly see each other?

    You think the way you do because you are privileged and you have been for a long time. The people who surround you are privileged also. You all are under the illusion that the rest of society has the privilege of making the same kinds of choices that you are allowed to make. You look down on people who actually do work while pontificating behind your desk and calling it work. I wish that you could do a single mother’s job at a factory for a while, where every little thing that they can find to use against you would be used against you. Where doctors’ excuses have no meaning-where you have to use all of your limited vacation time to take care of sick children-where they won’t let you off for family affairs-where you can’t even take a cell phone call from your child who is trying to find a way home from school-where you shove parts into machines and it’s never fast enough-where you are not allowed to speak to your son’s teacher about his missing a homeork assignment when she tries to call you at work-where you get two eight minute breaks and a thirty minute lunch for a ten hour day often for six days a week-where you are so bone tired that you can hardly think, much less make supper or pay the bills-where if you miss just one more day than your six allowed days, you’ll be fired. I wish that you could live a life as a single mother, and then when the alternator failed on your car, you could go around and ask for advice about how much it should cost, and then realize that you can’t afford to get it fixed. If you can’t get the car fixed, then you can’t keep your job. No job-no home-no food. There’s always the payday loan place. Where is the man that you should be married to? Well, he’s living the same latchkey existence that you are. He’s out on the road driving a truck, or on the next construction job building a mall in another state, or working at Zippy Mart on third shift. Never the twain shall meet.

    Perhaps your rich, influential friends should feel shame for perpetrating an economic system such as this against the rest of society. Maybe the whole lot of them should wear a scarlet “J” for judgmental.

  2. Dave

    Mark, that diatribe you just posted above just might be the makings of the best country western song ever. The only things you may have missed were the cheatin’ heart and you can do anything but don’t mess with my pickup truck and my dog. Anyway, you may have a calling as a songster if you can put those words to a tune.

    Back to serious subjects, I find it fascinating that Asian immigrants (from Korea, Vietnam, Phillipines, you name it) and also Latino immigrants (Mexico, Guatemala, Venezuela, etc.) can come into this nation penniless and within one generation their kids are at the top of the class in our schools, they start good businesses (what would we do without fajitas or egg rolls) and work their way up the economic ladder. Without delving into how hard they work, including many of the kids, in there daily business life, what stands out as the single differentiator between these ethnic groups and the African-Americans (side note, what a goofy term for a wide range of people, many of whom who’s ancestors may have had nothing to do with Africa)? If I can answer my own question, it is moral values steeped in respect for the family. If one agrees with that premise, then our government policies should be strongly focused on incenting people of all colors to that end. I am not a holy roller but the simple phrase of “The family that prays together stays together” really does work. As I see it, since the War on Poverty was launched, our government has actually displaced what in the good ole days would have been addressed by churches and charity groups. How so? Public housing, welfare checks, government day care, midnight basketball, the list is endless. And so now our government incents fathers to leave the home so the mother can collect a higher monthly check. We incent young girls to reproduce because the dollars increase with each kid. Not to mention, school sex ed. training where the condoms and birth control pills are handed out but if a kid gets caught with a tylenol pill we may suspend them from school. Then, we have the abortion industry. I have talked to some deeply religious black friends and they see this as a form of black genocide. Take away abortion and there likely would be 30 to 40 million more blacks in the USA. That is a whole different subject but you can simply hypothesize on the black voting power, economic power, and cultural effect of that number of people, if they existed. Who owns the abortion companies, if you will, and who perpetuates this subtle form of slaughter on their people? The very liberal white (mostly Democrats) who are very happy to scream racism at any suggestion of changing these policies.

    So, to Brad’s point about re-instituting shame into our society. I am with him on that one. Doing it would not be easy or immediate. But in time it can be done. Where Brad is wrong is in thinking that public policy is having no effect on how bad all this has gotten. I know liberals will never want to admit that growing the nanny state in lieu of strengthening faith based organizations has been a massive failure, maybe a $7 trillion dollar failure, but the results are there to see. So, once again, we have Judge Cooper directing that the state step in to begin life management of 3 and 4 year olds. My only hope is that the state will react by pointing the solution to the churches and private non-profits for results. We can all agree that the innocent young kids need help and are not to blame for their plight. But the solution is not that they need to be herded into public schools at age 3 or 4 and then sent home into the same setting. The solution is to change the setting at home.

  3. Dave

    Brad, somewhat off topic but what is your take on the new Jewish unparty now that Sharon is no longer a player? My take is that this demonstrates why it is foolish to build a political party on a personality. See Perot, The Reform Party (defunct). The jury is still out so let’s see what the Jewish centrists will do now. By the way, over Christmas I “listened” via tape to the John Adams biography series. I need to get the direct quotes but he wrote of his distaste for centrists, including none other than Ben Franklin, and I think Paul Lewellyn, as the country was founded. Lewellyn (I may be off on the name), actually was very prominent and took his entire family to England where he wrote in the London paper that America would return to uncivilized and poverty status if the tie with England was severed. Finally, what the founding fathers and their supporters hated the most, TAXES. First the Stamp Tax where every single piece of paper had to be taxed by the king, and then later taxes on tea, spices, you name it. I could make the case that our founders were REPUBLICANS way back then. The book was an excellent “listen”.

  4. Herb

    Dave, I don’t think you can dismiss Mark that easily. And Mark, I don’t think Brad is as disconnected from the situation as you suggest he is. There is just an immense amount of work to be done. For example, I have a friend who helps run a small furniture business. They try to give ex-prisoners a job and help them on their feet, but these are high maintenance people. They have learned to cheat, and call in sick when they don’t feel like working. Turning things around is hard work. My friend says that he might go back to hiring CIU students, because he knows he can rely on them. He probably needs to do both things. No team can take on just high maintenance people, but neither can we afford to not bear the burdens of others. If we keep down that road, our society is going to come apart at the seams.
    As for bringing back a sense of shame, that is going to take a firm hand, and I am amazed at how many two-parent homes don’t have a clue how to do that. (Ever watch “Super-Nanny”?) I watch even good-meaning parents let their kids throw a tantrum, scream, and spit in their parents’ faces, and the parents seem helpless. How come we are so afraid of our kids? Everybody is scared to death to say “NO! you can’t!” It’s like we are going to hurt our kids egos for life if we hold them to set standards. If Dads let their daughters out of their homes dressed like Britney Spears, then they only have themselves to blame. (By the way, the State doesn’t say much about that issue, as far as I can see — I suppose it is because the paper lives from the advertising and the news about the lives of celebrities that everyone is curious about, so all we get is a bombardment of shameless people shamelessly exploiting shameless lust . . . now there’s a rant for you!)
    I would like to see the churches do what you say, but I’m not sure that a lot of them can, because they are too busy talking about how much God loves us the way we are, and forget that love can and must be tough. Again, I am not hearing large portions of the Bible preached(when was the last time you heard a sermon on Jeremiah in church, I mean other than chapter one?), so as long as we hear selectively, we are going to get very selective results.

  5. David

    Most of you guys argue right past each other with even knowing it.
    Brad is simply saying
    The reality is that a large number of our poor children in South Carolina, especially in our I-95 corridor area, grow up with single parent households or no parents at all. That is a fact. That is the way it is for a variety of reasons.
    We aren’t going to outlaw single parent households. We can pass hundreds of laws to make parents pay for their kids but we can’t make them show the kind of love that those kids need regardless of how much child support they end up having to pay.
    We aren’t going to spend our way out of the problem either. Throwing millions of extra dollars won’t do the trick by itself – not by a long shot.
    But to deny that racism and the state of South Carolina didn’t have at least a small part in creating the conditions that led to these family problems is stupidity at its best. Sure, there are exceptions. Obviously immigrants have came to this country from placing like Vietnam and Korea and done quite well. I know a family like that myself. Of course when they came here in the early 1970’s the Vietnam family I know didn’t have anything, but they were a tight family and both mom and dad had advanced educations they had received in Vietnam. They had run a good business there before coming here but lost everything due to the North Vietnamese. In short – they had great skills. It was a fairly easy transition once the got going.
    What we can’t do is sit back, blame the parents (or lack of parents) and let the children just sit and suffer. When we do that (and South Carolina has mastered the art of it) we end up paying for a lot of those kids to spend 10+ years in prison.
    What we have to do is FOCUS, for the first time in our history, to fund schools in Lee County the same as we do in Lexington County. What we have to do is create, maintain, fund, and focus on EXCELLENT pre-school centers for 4 year olds in those counties. Every 4 year old in those counties should be in 4 year old pre-school – some possibly year round.
    When we do that, and we do it the right way for 15 years, we will see a difference. If we don’t, we can then throw up our hands. At least at that point we can say for the first time in our state’s history that we gave it a legit, equal shot.

  6. Herb

    My question is, who runs these pre-school centers, and under whose regulations? If churches are given some free room to operate, I can see it, but if the staff are put in jail for washing a kid’s mouth out with soap, then I’m not sure I have much hope.

  7. David

    If the child goes to a church sanctioned pre-school program in our of our poor areas of the state, then the church runs the pre-school – but they have to meet state qualifications. My wife teaches at just such a church pre-school in the Columbia area. My wife’s pre-school is quite good, but it costs a lot of money and it isn’t really exclusive or anything like that.
    But most of our poor, rural areas don’t have churches with the size, staff, or money to run such centers. My wife has her Masters degree in Science Education. Almost every teacher at the pre-school she works at has either 4 year degree or a Masters. They don’t require it but the church is in Columbia so they draw top teachers- many of who have chosen to remain at home with their kids and not be in the work force. There are computers – nice ones- in every room at this pre-school (YES PRE-SChool). I was AMAZED to walk in and see 3 and 4 year old kids maniuplating the computer and doing basic spelling on the computers.
    Our rural, poor areas don’t have those resources so what will have to happen, I believe, is the state will have to come up wtih the money to staff or at least provide the equipment for such centers. With the state providing the cash, it only makes sense that they will provide the oversight.
    I would like to see partnerships between the state and business. Businesses in those areas could donate time, computers, and other resources.
    I’d like to see year round pre-school, 4 year old centers that are located in our rural areas in the lowcountry.

  8. Mike C

    There’s a correlation between family intactness and achievement. The percentage of out-of-wedlock births for non-Hispanic whites is 21.9 percent, but for non-Hispanic blacks it’s 69.3 percent. For Hispanics it’s 41.6 percent, and for American Indians 59.3 percent. For Asians and Pacific Islanders overall the number is 15.6 percent, but this varies from 51.1 percent for Hawaiians to 6.4 percent and 9.7 percent for Chinese and Japanese Americans, respectively. This corresponds with achievement as measured by standardized test scores.
    That makes sense given that children in one-parent families are twice as likely to drop out of school as those in two-parent homes. Boys in one-parent families are much more likely to be both out of school and out of work. Girls in one-parent families are twice as likely to have an out-of-wedlock birth. It’s hard to read with one’s kids if there is no partner around
    Illegitimacy is heavily concentrated in low-income groups. For what it’s worth, state-sponsored shame is a concept that went out with The Scarlet Letter.
    The good news is that illegitimacy rates are heading down a bit.. But that’s at the national (aggregated) level and doesn’t help what we’re stuck with now.
    If poor people did just three things, the poverty rate would be a fraction of what it currently is. Those three things are:

    1) Finish high school
    2) Get married before having children
    3) Work full time.

    The state and private enterprise are unable to compel such behavior in a free society. But we have organizations ideally suited to convey the cultural foundations and promote the notion of shame, as well as positive virtues such as personal responsibility, charity, moral behavior, and so forth. We call them churches and service organizations like Scouting.
    If the Unparty is adamant about keeping public funds from such institutions, would it agree to state funding of pre-K and after-school curricula that could be provided free of charge to public and private daycare providers statewide?
    In a bow to Mark, in the sense of noblesse oblige, would not encouraging the prosperous churches to abandon their edifice complexes and adopt poorer churches in the state with the goal of transmitting cultural values and pre-K and after-school programs?
    We can’t seen to talk about this too much now. This idea seems too conservative, too Republican, and there’s the war on the Boy Scouts to consider too. But in fact a similar effort was carried on for years on Chicago’s West Side. Kids from private Catholic high schools tutored blacks attending segregated public schools in after-school sessions at local black churches.
    So I’d challenge the ACLU to be smart in finding some positive approaches to helping the poorer areas that doesn’t involve lawsuits. How about guidelines for caregivers for starters?
    The state’s role would be one of public health, policing operators, and finding teaching strategies that could be used by moderately educated caregivers.
    (An aside: the public heath guidelines in this state are not really strict. I was amazed to find that warm water is not required in school or daycare restrooms. But that’s our state.)

  9. Capital A

    “. . . would not encouraging the prosperous churches to abandon their edifice complexes and adopt poorer churches in the state with the goal of transmitting cultural values and pre-K and after-school programs?”
    Mike, even though I think there is a verb missing here, I like what you are saying. I’ve tried (somewhat) to do it in just one small case, so far without results. But if some folks came together and worked on a program? I’ve often wished I could invest just 5% of what goes into a lot of “edifice complexes” in dire human need overseas — but the needs of kids here are often just as dire.

  10. Herb

    That last one was not Capital A, and I don’t know why my page inserts his name sometimes. I didn’t see it. Sorry, Capital A. I do not mean to steal your identity? How could I steal someone’s identity who thinks the SEC is superior?

  11. Mike C

    Oooh! Sorry about that. But why use a verb when an entire phrase will fit? Like this:

    “… would not encouraging the prosperous churches to abandon their edifice complexes and adopt poorer churches in the state with the goal of transmitting cultural values and pre-K and after-school programs be doable, practical, and entirely consistent within their mission and values?”

  12. Herb

    Well done, Mike. But now the hard work begins. What I see in missions is that it is hard for Americans to play a subservient role. We are great on helping, as long as we are the ones in charge, bringing our great wisdom and training. Serving under national leadership is another matter. I suspect the same problem here, and its going to seem like scalding water down the throat to the poorer churches. Never mind the problem of the edifices. But I intend to present this to a few pastors I know.

  13. Mike C

    Herb –
    When you do talk to the pastors you know, you might mention that the Catholic high school students did the tutoring in Protestant churches. Back in 1967-68 as a student at Fenwick High School I tutored students from the May School at the Mandell Methodist Church. The objective was service, not proselytizing, and to assist those in need in any way possible. It was not an ego trip and was in part intended to engender humility within the tutors. The Catholics intended to gain no converts nor save any souls, merely to help those who faced a dire situation not of their making.
    Human nature being what it is, some folks might need a little assist before they make a commitment. Churches with means might encourage participation by calling it what it is: a mission to help those in need. Let us not forget, the kids are innocent; it’s not their fault. Many of the adults may have changed their ways but now have neither the skills nor knowledge to assist on their own. I’ve the notion that with a little help and some proven educational materials, concerned folks can make a difference.
    There’s one thing that service organizations can do that civil servants can’t, and that’s use their power of commitment and charity without fear of disruption by groups that demand the strict separation of church and state. The volunteers can strike a meaningful, personal bargain with those on the receiving end. There’s no law that can enforce that.

  14. Dave

    David, I dont think anyone is arguing past anyone else here. You noted the family from Vietnam. Are you implying that Vietnam had some great universities in the 50s and 60s where these people got the equivalent of MBAs? Most of the Vietnamese who came to the USA couldnt even speak English, let alone understand tax law, government regulations, etc that you have to know to have a well run business. Second question, do you think any place in Vietnam had a brand spanking new high school like Lee Central. (Wish I had a picture here).

    To your point about the pre-school centers, I think everyone who has posted here has agreed on those but why put them into the hands of public school administrators who have failed on nearly every level. Yes, they can help monitor them, but for once can we try out a program that doesnt simply expand the tax and spend policies of the past?

    As to the racism stuff and the “accountability” of SC, I have trouble with that. There is absolutely nothing racist that the state sponsors or advocates or supports in this day. Slavery is over. (Except in Muslim Africa, but — shhhhhhhhhhh — dont say that around liberals. With my newly acquired knowledge here, former Pres. John Adams, from Quincy, Massachusetts, owned 2 slaves. Do you hear anyone going on about the slavery debt in Mass., of course not, and we know why. Mike C. once again laid it out about the parents, who simply need to follow the three basic precepts noted in his post above.

    Back to the pre-school centers, you can put those little kids in those centers from 8 to 4 year round, and when they then come home to a mother on drugs, or an abusive and ill tempered father, what do you think will happen? The parent(s) will support this as another free babysitting service but if nothing is changed in the home I think the extra schooling will be negated. That is why some of us are saying the ENTIRE family must be impacted, not simply the 4 year olds. Isnt it time a new model is tried.

  15. Herb

    “The objective was service, not proselytizing, and to assist those in need in any way possible. It was not an ego trip and was in part intended to engender humility within the tutors.”
    I agree, Mike, that a good preparation is needed. But you’re going to have to be careful about trying to muzzle evangelical Christians. Sure, I wish I could take them all to Europe, and learn to be “as wise as serpents” in our approach, but that’s not going to be possible. I wouldn’t advocate proseltyzing (we’ll need a definition of that, though), but at the same time, evangelical tutors are going to talk about their personal faith story. Otherwise, you’re taking away the very thing that gives them their energy.
    And I think you’ll have to enlist evangelical churchs to make this work, because my impression is, and I may be wrong, that the liberals have lost their vitality. The landscape is a lot different than it was 35 years ago.

  16. David

    Never said the Vietnam family I know (back then) had the equal of MBA’s. I said they had advanced educations and ran a successful business. (In short, they were smart people who had business experience). Running a business here isn’t rocket science. It doesn’t require an MBA. Unless I missed it, running a nice family owned business doesn’t require an MBA from a great American University. For people from outside the country(the ones I used in my example) it was quite easy since they were educated beyong high school and has previous experience. I didn’t say (or imply) they started it the first day they arrived.
    It is a long way from an educated family with a strong worth ethic running a business to a family with no high school education in the entire family, barely can read, never close to running their own business to do the same thing those folks did in my example above.
    Again, I didn’t say “PUT THEM IN THE HANDS OF PUBLIC SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS.” You need to read my posts for what they say – not what you think they say. That is the problem with this board and certain posters.
    I said that pre-school centers where they state provides the money – the state has the right for oversight. In areas (rich or poor) where the church runs the center and it meets state qualifications, the church will provide oversight – the church will still have to meet basic state requirements-whatever they are. That is true even today. But the state is hands-off for the most part in those situations. For example the church pre-school can teach the bible all they want and pray all they want.
    On my racism comment- DAVE – you again miss the boat. My post was past tense. I didn’t say or imply that the State of South Carolina was acting in a racist way right now toward our poorer counties (areas). I said that “to deny that racism and the state of South Carolina didn’t have at least a small part in creating the conditions that led to these family problems is stupidity at its best.” Examples are numerous but include making it almost impossible for blacks to receive equal educations to their white counterparts in the 50’s and 60’s. When you are 12 and have to quit school to work on the farm (and this applied to poor whites as well) you don’t gradute high school, you don’t get much of any kind of formal education and you don’t have a chance. BTW- my grandfather (who is white) dropped at of 6th grade to help his family on their farm in the upstate. He never went back to school – never had a chance – joined the Army- went to WW2, came home and worked his tail off for almost nothing in plants. He didn’t get ahead money wise until he was probably in his late 40’s.
    Plus, I worked in the Senate Chamber and Gressette Senate Office Building in Columbia for over 2 years almost 20 years ago. You have no clue if you think racism wasn’t alive and well. It just wasn’t in your face – but it was WELL ALIVE. But my statement above wasn’t even about that. IT was past tense – and not 20 years ago past tense.
    What is your new model? I’d love to hear it. I’d love to see what program is going to turn an uneducated, 20 something woman with no skills and 4 kids under 10 into anything more than a broken down family when they have no decent jobs in places like Marion, SC. It is very hard, almost impossible to turn a life like that around.
    It is much easier, much cheaper, to try to turn the life of that child around. sure they go home to a screwed up mess at the end of the day. But for those 8 hours in school you have the chance to teach them, educate them, show them a new world, give them some peace and quiet, and show them some caring. Most at the age of 4 aren’t getting that now and we know for sure what will happen to those.
    I also wonder how many of the posters on here who have very set ideas about all the family problems these kids face – I wonder how many of you have volunteered to mentor a child under the age of 10 in one of our poorer school areas in the COlumbia area or anywhere in South Carolina in the last 5 years.

  17. Mike C

    Herb –
    I was not clear and did not mean to imply that any volunteers should be muzzled. I think that the only way to help those in need is to establish a personal bond, and religion should certainly be part of that if it’s a church or other religious group that’s lending the aid. The donor and the recipient will know that before the deal is struck. And it has to take the form of a contract, whether written or implied, where both parties have obligations.
    I think it would be reasonable for the church in need to identify those kids who may be in a dire situation and assist in getting them into the program. The donor church would need to provide to the church in need the curriculum outline and other material would be necessary to show the community, particularly whatever parents or guardian may be about, that this would be a worthwhile, substantial program. The church in need would also have to have some form of agreement with whoever is in loco parentis to ensure that the kids show up for the programs.
    Donor churches might get together and get all lawyered up to minimize liability. Standard policies and procedures and forms should be straightforward with such a group. But for a successful curriculum, I think that state involvement is important to ensure that the volunteer efforts serve as an adequate feeder to state curriculum standards. The state may be best able to contact other states or school districts to find something that’s worked wonders elsewhere. But I may be mistaken.
    I do know that almost as bad as doing nothing is to go in with nothing and wing it. It might be fine for a year or so, but if the community in need sees no results in terms of standardized testing or some other objective measure, the program will fail.
    I’ll tell you something too, based on past and current experience, something that you probably know, but others here may not fully appreciate, and that is that nothing would serve the smarter kids in the better churches and schools than to spend their summer or other time off assisting those who need a hand. Again, those in need are not in that situation because they’ve done something wrong or idiotic. They need a hand because they’ve no dreams, few possibilities, and weak foundations through no fault of their own.
    I’ve dealt with older — high school — kids in trouble here in Columbia; their path, unfortunately, is set and has already attracted the attention of law enforcement. They’re not able to learn vicariously I guess because they can’t see anything greater than themselves. They’ve never learned self-control, never learned to do something because it’s the right thing to do; they care only about what feels good at any given instant. The juvenile justice system will have to deal with them.
    But for the pre-K and elementary school kids there is still hope, and that’s where a donor program can help. Again, the religious component is probably essential, but with a church-to-church exchange, that should be understood and even welcome.

  18. Scott Ewing

    ‘Does living in a police state make you safer?’
    Could you please poll your readers on this?
    Yours, concerned,
    Scott ewing

  19. Dave

    David, To your posted items on racism and the public school administrators, I was making a general comment, not directed at you personally. Sorry if that came across to you like that. On previous posts I have noted pieces of the model I would propose and don’t have the time to draft a comprehensive solution. However, I would phase out the incentives for birthing more children. The welfare support money we do issue would be directed much more to be spent right on the children, as opposed to issuing cash to the parent(s). I also would like to see a much stronger workfare program to replace welfare. If a parent is an able bodied adult, instead of sitting at your public housing project waiting for those “free” handouts, you would have a whole raft of work to do. The list of needs in this state is almost endless from litter pickup, road pothole patching, public parks and facilities maintenance, to more involved types of work. These jobs could be considered training for interns assigned to either state crews or private companies who could pay a subsidized rate. Other than litter pickup, any of the jobs could help learning skills but most importantly instill some pride in an unemployed parent with low self esteem. A program like that may not work for all, but it sure is better than what I see in place now. The 20 year old with four kids under ten has made some horrible decisions in that example about her own future and the future of those kids. We as taxpayers do not owe her a fully paid place in life. So I say give her a chance to work her way out of it while helping the kids.

    I like Mike C.’s idea about the church to church mentoring and sponsoring the early learning programs. It would be great to see a pilot program begun based on that criteria.

    I would bet that most posters here have not mentored at risk small children. Remember though people can contribute to charity and society in many ways.

  20. Herb

    Mike, I like this, and I’m taking it to some people I know. Which may not mean a thing, but then again, you never know. If anything comes up, I’ll let you know. I’ll be bogged down with a dissertation seminar and work the next two weeks at least, so I may not emerge for a month or so.

  21. David

    fair enough.
    I have found that those that make the most noise aren’t always nearly as willing to step up and get involved themselves.
    Nothing personal toward you or really anyone.
    BTW- I did mentor a Richland 1 student a few years ago. I had a lot of preconceived ideas – some like those I see on here – that were shattered when I 4 months with that 8 year old little boy. I even visited his home and met his single mom. While her life wasn’t pleasant and she made some terrible choices, she was only raising her little boy the exact same way she had been raised by her mom. She knew no difference and NO ONE GAVE A RIP ABOUT HER OR HER FAMILY. NO ONE.
    THe little boy – Corey, was precious, bright, and his teacher told me that stupid old me visiting him and eating lunch with him was the highlight of his week. We read together, looked up wrestling information in mags in the library and I asked him about his homework. In 1 month time his teacher told me his work had improved. She told me I was probably the only one that cared about his work – that his mom’s skills were so poor, she didn’t know how to show leadership to her own son.
    BTW- The mentor leader at that school told me that there were so many young children at that school that begged for mentors every year but he had to tell them no because he couldn’t get people to volunteer.
    Funny how so many people have such incredibly strong opinions on what should be done in our schools and with these families but they have never put in a second of time to volunteer, to get involved, and just be there to listen to one of these precious little ones that need someone to listen to them so badly.
    Funny how that works.

  22. Dave

    David, I really don’t want any credit for what I do to help others but I have donated a lot of time working on handicap ramps for disabled who cannot afford to buy one and several other service causes. That being said, I can tell you with certainty that a number of people that I know WILL NOT mentor a child other than their own. Why? We can thank all of the pedophiles roaming free and loose in this society due to the protections provided by the leftist ACLU and their supporters. In this state and many others, if you are simply ACCUSED of child molestation, you are immediately guilty in the court of public opinion. Also, we have any number of trial lawyers out there who will bring suit against anyone with assets on these kinds of charges. These people are the blood leeches of society who contribute almost nothing to the GNP but take wherever they can. Several people I know would not volunteer to take kids on a youth group ski trip for the above reasons. This has hurt the boy and girl scout programs, church youth group programs, and I bet the mentoring programs you wrote about. I want to see every legitimate pedophile under lock and key, for life, but people who have done nothing are being extorted (for out of court settlements) so leeches and parasites can generate some easy money.

  23. David

    I totally agree with you. I myself have avoided such outings myself with my own church youth group. I don’t go on them at all and never volunteer for that sort of stuff.
    (and these posts aren’t directed at you )
    The cool thing about the school mentoring thing is that you aren’t alone.
    You meet them in the lunch room at most schools and eat lunch with them there – walk to the library and sit at a table and read in the presence of the librarian and other folks and then if you have time go outside to watch them play ball with other students with other teachers right beside you. In mentoring at a school you never are alone and don’t have the chance – too many folks around. Some just stayed in the lunch room the entire 30 mins they were at the school. The only thing different I did would be to walk in the hall to see the art work, etc of the child I was mentoring – again- all out in the open.

  24. Lee

    I fail to see any evidence of success in the money-sucking notion that public education can overcome the sorry home life of children that never should have been born. Just look at the high dropout rate of those children.
    Liberals used to be big promoters of forced sterilization to go along with their welfare programs. They long ago lost the backbone to criticize any social misbehavior, or question any amount that deadbeats demand, especially when they use “the children” as their excuse.

  25. LWF

    I’d just like to mention an organization that deals with many single parent families, gives them an opportunity to turn their lives around and earn a home, and requires a great deal from them including 16 months to 2 years of service as well as paying a mortgage once they receive the home. It is called Habitat for Humanity and it works. Not all of these situations are hopeless!

  26. David

    Excellent post. You are exactly right. A lot of these situations aren’t hopeless. But they sure are the more people with ” all the answers” sit by and just write a check every once in awhile and feel they did their part.
    Your attitude changes about these families when you get out, get involved with them, talk to them, meet their children, really talk to their children, and witness first hand the hope they have in their eyes for their own future.
    The little boy I mentored had a crummy home life but he loved his momma so much. She loved him to but had no idea how to show it. I met her on several occasions and she was always nice to me.
    The boy told me several times though that he hated that his momma had a boyfriend and that he wished his dad was still at home. He was only 8 years old.
    But after meeting him, trying to help him, meeting his mom, I wasn’t angry at her. My heart went out to them. HIs mom was doing exactly the thing she had been taught – nothing different. She didn’t even know how to set an example.

  27. LWF

    You obviously care, and I think a lot of people on this board would have a different opinion if they really got close to these situations. No one wants to fail, but they sometimes need a hand-up (not a handout) to succeed.

  28. Lee

    So, how many mistakes do we allow the unmarried mother, who missed out on role models and mentoring, to make and charge it to innocent taxpayers?

  29. Lee

    If you don’t have any more “wisdom” than a woman with multiple children born out of wedlock, you really are not able to be much help to her or to solving the social problems created by her.

  30. Dave

    David, the little boy has more common sense than mommie. With her new boyfriend, how long before the 5th kid comes along. But, hey, the welfare payment and WIC support will go up. Not bad, get knocked up, give yourself a raise. Schoolteachers cant give themselves a raise but an uneducated, illiterate, promiscous young girl can.. Thank you so much LBJ!!!!!!!!!

  31. David

    Actually the lady only had one other child. This lady was actually trying to do the right thing. She simply had no idea what the right thing to do was – and she wasn’t lazy either. She had two jobs, she was almost never at home.
    But like I don’t go to the doctor to get my air conditioning fixed, I wouldn’t expect Lee or some others to have a clue about this stuff unless they had actually got out there now or in the last year or so, mentored one of these children, met their moms or dads (or both), sat in their homes and talked with them and really got to know them.
    It is when you do that that you begin to really care. You don’t worry so much about your tax dollars going to help some of our poorer citizens when you have that personal investment in the situation on a one on one level. Sure I don’t want any of my money wasted and I care about such items. But it isn’t the be all end all when it hits you right in the mouth on a personal, one on one level.
    and all of this coming from someone who is quite Conservative.

  32. Paul DeMarco

    I’ve worked with Marion County Habitat for Humanity for 11 years and have seen us turn some lives around. However, its not a panacea. Several years ago we built a home with a couple with three young daughters, two of whom have sickle cell anemia. Since moving into their home the wife has had another child and now she’s pregnant with twins! They were just getting by with three kids. Soon they will have six.
    We can’t protect people from their own bad choices but to ignore the impact of single parenthood threatens our social fabric. I like some of the ideas I’ve read here. It seems to me it will take a comprhesive national program (perhaps something along the line of City Year) to address this. A great deal could be accomplished with the kind of volunteer, faith based, privately funded ideas that have been articulated above. Hbaitat for Humanity has built approx 200,000 homes worldwide with this kind of model. But its going to take a national commitment which will have to be organized by the government or a large non-profit. But I believe that even without any tax dollars a great deal could be done.
    I especially like the idea of churches partnering with other churches or with schools. I know of one church in Columbia (St Andrews Baptist, I believe) that has had success mentoring children at a school that adjoins their property.
    Where is the NAACP in all this? Given the stats provided by Mike C, it seems this would be their number one priority.

  33. Herb

    I think that I have a useful contact with an evangelical group that has already been involved in providing family-friendly wireless Internet to a few small towns in South Carolina, along with bringing together local churches and school authorities in a tutoring program. This sounds kind of nebulous, but I don’t have any details, yet. I’ll come back with more when I find out more.

  34. David

    Here is an idea
    get involved yourself and stay involved. Encourage those friends of yours that are close to you to do the same thing.

  35. Dave

    Paul, I certainly can’t answer for the NAACP but from watching the news their important issues are preventing one way traffic routes during Black Biker week at the beach and securing reparations. The ongoing tragedy of teen pregnancy, school dropouts, and crime within the black community are not high on their list it would seem. The non-partisan NAACP found time to run ads implying that Bush was involved in the crime where a black man was dragged by a pickup truck in Texas. Don’t look to the NAACP to help solve the elephant in the living room problem.

  36. Paul DeMarco

    Keep us up to date. The WiFi idea is a great one although it assumes people have computers. As I try to shepard my low income patients through the new Medicare Part D drug plan, their lack of Internet access is a major problem. It’s nearly impossible to know which plan is best for you without using the Internet.
    I have a great deal of respect for the NAACP and its historic advocacy for blacks. Their brilliant use of the federal courts to overturn segreration was one of the best uses of costitutional prerogative in the 20th century. Thurgood Marshall was a hero. But lately they seem lost and irrelevant.
    Surely there is someone who can speak to this issue from the NAACP perspective-ie why it doesn’t seem to be on their radar screen. How about getting Warren Bolton in on the converstaion so its not so one-sided.

  37. Dave

    Paul, this thread is aging but I had to comment. Warren Bolton wrote a brilliant column about 2 months ago about the problems with violent young black youths. Knowing what I think I know of the NAACP, he likely became temporarily persona non-gratis. He won me over with that article for several reasons. It took guts to write it and he was spot on. If most black leaders would address problems directly as Warren documented, we would all see some tangible progress in the minority crime and recidivism situation that we have now.

  38. Paul DeMarco

    The silence in response to my request for an NAACP response to my assertion that the organization is missing the boat by ignoring the single parenthood issue is deafening. I hope it represents the small size of this blogosphere. Surely there are folks out there who want to rise to the NAACPs defense. I went looking on both the NAACP and Urban League websites and found nothing about this issue. Although both groups support laudable progams to alleviate the symptoms of family dysfunction, neither address the root cause. There must be a national focus on this issue and the single parenthood rate must decrease in order for us to make significant progress in reducing the wealth and crime inequalities in our country. My heart breaks when I think of the millions of children of all races that are denied the firm and loving foundation that a two parent home can provide.

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