Sunday, January 31, 2016

Building Trades in Rochester

In a post titled "My Pick for Rochester Race Relations" I wrote of my choice in the Unite Rochester Challenge Ballot to be in the running for a $5000 grant; turned out among the 89 "ideas to address the racial and socioeconomic divide that plagues the Rochester area" my pick was selected — Top 10 vote getters of Unite Rochester Challenge named:
    Neighbors Project: This project will provide training to young men, equipping them with skills and experience to gain employment in the building trades and property management, while also improving downtrodden neighborhoods. We will recruit students from city neighborhoods and rehabilitate a city-owned property scheduled for auction.
As I wrote, "This one aims to help real people learn real skills to solve real problems; the others were mostly about fostering white ethnomasochism." Fortunately, none of the overtly ethnomaochistic entries made it to the top ten, but most were like this one:
    Rochester's Kindergarten to College: Modeled after a successful initiative in San Francisco, we will work with the city of Rochester, city schools and community-minded financial institutions to provide every incoming kindergarten student with a college savings account. While the initial deposit will be publicly funded, students and families will be given financial literacy training and incentives to keep saving. In San Francisco, the program has also helped adults by helping them establish a relationship with a bank.
While the "publicly funded" part is problematic, offering "financial literacy training and incentives to keep saving," if funded by banks' own enlightened self-interest makes sense. Of course the black linguist and self-described "cranky liberal Democrat" John McWhorter pointed out, there is a fatal flaw with the basic premise of this second proposal — The curse of ‘college for all’. In fact, Prof. McWhorter would likely agree with my proposal pick, as the fourth of his four ideas on "how African-Americans can and will play the same game everyone else is, even if the rules are stacked against them," wich got a mention on Radio Derb yesterday, suggests — Black People Should Stop Expecting White America to ‘Wake Up’ to Racism. Here's the ides:
    We must revise the notion that attending a four-year college is the mark of being a legitimate American, and return to truly valuing working-class jobs. Attending four years of college is a tough, expensive, and even unappealing proposition for many poor people (as well as middle-class and rich ones). Yet poor people can, with up to two years’ training at a vocational institution, make solid livings as electricians, plumbers, hospital technicians, cable television installers, and many other jobs. Across America, we must instill a sense that vocational school—not “college” in the traditional sense—is a valued option for people who want to get beyond what they grew up in.

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