Home > Uncategorized > Books, Food, PCs, Guns, and Poverty – Redux

Books, Food, PCs, Guns, and Poverty – Redux

As noted in earlier posts, I am on a vacation away from the internet and so I am re-publishing some posts on “guns in school” from years past… in part to keep the webpage “alive” in my absence, but, as is true in this case, to illustrate problems that existed in 2013 are with us even now. Posts on this topic will continue through April 20 when the marches marking the anniversary of Columbine are scheduled. This was written in January 2013: 

Over the past several months I’ve published many posts describing the adversity children raised in poverty face in terms of competing in school. Their homes often lack books, their pantries often lack food, they seldom have personal computers available to them, and their parents seldom have the time or, in some cases, the wherewithal to engage in their child’s schooling. A recent NYTimes op ed piece by David Cole reports that young black males raised in poverty DO have one edge over their white counterparts: they are eight times more likely to die as a result of gun violence:

Racial disparities in gun violence far outstrip those in almost any other area of life. Black unemployment is double that for whites, as is black infant mortality. But young black men die of gun homicide at a rate eight times that of young white men. Could it be that the laxity of the nation’s gun laws is tolerated because its deadly costs are borne by the segregated black and Latino populations of North Philadelphia and Chicago’s South Side?

The unemployment, the infant mortality, and the gun violence are evidence that young black males lack Maslow’s primary needs… and lacking a warm, safe, and nurturing environment contributes more to school failure than having a good curriculum, a longer school day, or attending a “no excuses” school.

As a teacher in Philadelphia in the early 1970s I recall the effect guns had on the middle school students I taught. Some of them lost brothers and friends to gun violence. Some of them lost classmates. The guns also affected the atmosphere of the school. Teachers who heard rumors of kids who brought guns to school and felt threatened when they went to enter their cars parked on the street, especially after they turned a student in for misbehavior. They weren’t afraid that a middle school aged student would overpower them: they were afraid that a middle school aged student with a handgun might shoot them. In urban schools, that is not an irrational fear.

Cole ends his article with the following paragraph:

To tweak the National Rifle Association’s refrain, “guns don’t kill people; indifference to poverty kills people.” We can’t in good conscience keep making young black men pay the cost of our right to bear arms.

He could also write: “guns don’t kill people; indifference to the provision of mental health services kills people”… because contrary to the rants I’ve heard on conservative talk radio “liberals” seek more funding for mental health while conservatives want cuts in all social services. Sorry Wayne LaPierre:  you can’t claim that the proliferation of handguns in urban areas or the availability of rapid fire guns doesn’t contribute to needless carnage in our country. Kids don’t need easy access to guns and I NO one needs rapid fire guns unless human carnage is the goal. Maybe Newton will be the wake up call

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