Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A city on the move

Flint's Richard Kennedy, who is only 9, has already attended
4 Flint schools. (Photo by Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times)



Flint's economic collapse has been so profound that mundane measurements like unemployment rates and homicide totals just don't capture the scope of Buick Town's decline. The news in the eighties that Flint was home to more rats than humans was one of those distressingly unexpected statistics that began to capture what was really happening to Flint.

Now Erik Eckholm of The New York Times offers yet another innovative indicator of the shrinking city's troubled condition:

"In some of Flint’s elementary schools, half or more of the students change in the course of a school year — in one school it reached 75 percent in 2003. The moves are usually linked to low, unstable incomes, inadequate housing and chaotic lives, and the recent rash of foreclosures on landlords is adding to the problem, forcing renters from their homes. The resulting classroom turmoil led the State Department of Human Services to start an unusual experiment, paying some parents $100 a month in rent subsidies to help them stay put — a rare effort to address the damaging turnover directly."

UPDATE: Smurfs, inc., comments:

So, Richard's sister is 11 and can barely read. What the fuck? Whose fault is that? Is society to blame? Government? Our education system? Oh, wait...what about the family?

Obviously, we know nothing about the inner workings of this family. Is it fair to guess that Richard and his sister spend a lot of time playing video games? Hmmm. Might reading be a low priority in this house? Well, how could one possibly be so presumptuous as to wager a guess...wait, I think I see a library behind the plywood window.

Flint is a microcosm of a nation that is anti-intellectual and pro-passive entertainment. Sure, the schools could do more, government could do more, we could have a society where everybody's needs are met. Great, but that ain't gonna happen anytime soon.

Until PARENTS themselves model positive behavior: reading, writing, creativity, and physical activity (things that cost next to nothing) you're gonna get one generation after another of bad xeroxes. As the old saying goes "the nut don't fall far from the tree."

Again, we don't know this family...but all of us know Flint. Too many families are complicit in their own shitty situations.

Pick yerself up by your own bootstraps? Yeah, I know, I may have never had to do that, nevertheless there is no knight in shining armor on the horizon that is gonna save the families of Flint. Obama, McCain, Granholm, Levin, U of M, Kettering, GM, Uptown Developments, Toyota, Williamson, Walling, Kildee, Captain Bubblegum...ugh, we're fucked.

Hey parents, we got a kick-ass art museum, library, cultural center, universities, and despite the city's sorry lot, all sorts of positive activities. YOU gotta raise your kids, so do it.


5 comments:

  1. So, Richard's sister is 11 and can barely read. What the fuck? Whose fault is that? Is society to blame? Government? Our education system? Oh, wait... what about the family?

    Obviously, we know nothing about the inner workings of this family. Is it fair to guess that Richard and his sister spend alotta time playing video games? Hmmm. Might reading be a low priority in this house? Well, how could one possibly be so presumptuos as to wager a guess... wait, I think I see a library behind the plywood window.

    Flint is a microcosm of a nation that is anti-intellectual and pro-passive entertainment. Sure, the schools could do more, government could do more, we could have a society where everybody's needs are met. Great, but that ain't gonna happen anytime soon.

    Until PARENTS themselves model positive behavior: reading, writing, creativity, and physical activity (things that cost next to nothing) you're gonna get one generation after another of bad xeroxes. As the old saying goes- "the nut don't fall far from the tree."

    Again, we don't know this family... but all of know Flint. Too many families are complicit in their own shitty situations.

    Pick yerself up by your own bootstraps? Yeah, I know, I may have never had to do that, nevertheless there is no knight in shining armor on the horizon that is gonna save the families of Flint. Obama, McCain, Granholm, Levin, U of M, Kettering, GM, Uptown Developments, Toyota, Williamson, Walling, Kildee, Captain Bubblegum... ugh, we're fucked.

    Hey parents, we got a kick-ass art museum, library, cultural center, universites, and despite the city's sorry lot, all sorts of positive activities. YOU gotta raise your kids, so do it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Slick, Touche, 100% on the mark I'd say.Running down the ameneties, don't forget the Planetarium also. The next generation of Xerox kids will probably have go-rilla thumbs also from the damn vidiot games. I sometimes wonder if it's not a plot on the part of the Japanese Corporations to undermine the flower of American Youths. They'll be a lot easier to handle when Blackwater wants to do a street sweep and their collective heads are deep into some damn blip-blip hand held mind trashing game. So Slick, you get a large AMEN from this part of the choir...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow...do I understand you correctly? There is someone else out there touting personal responsibility?

    Amen!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Don't get too excited there mister. The whole "personal responsibility" jag that so many lazy pundits preach is just a cheap way to take the onus off of our corrupt and unfair capitalist system.

    It is so easy for mfers that benefit from the system to label all those that are "have nots" as unmotivated and somehow deserrving of their lot in life. Dudes in Grand Blank were born in the end zone but somehow convinced themselves they scored a touchdown.

    If you are from Flint you'd have to be blind not to recognize the various ways that inequality has taken shape over the years. The city has had to bear the brunt of: inadequate school funding, poverty, pollution, racism, crime, etc. etc ad infinitum. Ya just can't explain away Flint's problems by labelling the citizenry as a buncha no-good welfare bums.

    So go ahead, chant a mantra of "personal responsibility" if it makes you feel righteous, but to do so is to be ignorant of a thousand and one other factors that contribute to Flint's problems.

    ReplyDelete
  5. When we find ONE single, common, concrete, solution to ending poverty, poor education, unemployment and the generational viscous cycle that ensues.... well then problem solved. To my knowledge, we have NO such perfect solution. I think it's just a TAD bit more complicated than that... A good start maybe, but far more complicated. Just curious Mr. or Ms. Smurf, but do you have children? Most people (not all I realize) want more for their children than they had or have. Even complicit Flintoid-Falling-Tree-Nuts. In a place as grim as Flint, that future can't look too bright. I will agree that parents are the number one influence on children but really, do you see society any better if we didn't rely on schools, and yes - GOVERNMENT to help sometimes?

    ReplyDelete

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