Friday, March 02, 2018

South Africa and American Cities Have Much In Common


go-ogle |  Deindustrialization, disinvestment in urban public infrastructure, the expanding criminal justice system, and the privatization of correctional facilities create the nexus in which the school-to-prison pipeline is the logical outgrowth. The relationship between urban public schools and the criminal justice system was fostered by a variety of forces that systematically excluded black populations from participation in economic and social development. The economization of incarceration has further influenced a political environment where crime control is the reigning logic of governance of the urban poor. Residential and school segregation spatially and socially marked the urban poor and the black population was targeted and object of social ill.

De-industrialization of inner cities in the 1940's marked a new era in racial and social disparity. Facilitated and accelerated by government subsidies, the movement of resources out of urban centers was a precondition of poor urban isolation. As manufacturing jobs shifted out into the suburbs, and later abroad, employment opportunity for inner city folks dwindled. Federal subsidies such as FHA and VA facilitated suburbanization beginning in the late 1940's, creating a mass exodus of middle-income and white households. There is an established pattern of discretionary action on behalf of banks and public institutions that excluded black folks from partaking in these opportunities to move out into the suburbs. Access to superior living conditions, better funded schools, and higher-paying work was significantly limited. White flight signaled the beginning of a systemic disinvestment in public urban institutions. With homeowners now mobilized in America's suburbs, local politicians were advocating for resources that privileged their propertied constituents. Meanwhile, in cities, high unemployment rates compounded with low performing urban schools further ossified the color line. City schools as public institutions are thus situated within a larger political economy of post-industrial urban change. In Ghetto Schooling, Jean Anyon writes:

In the years between 1945 and 1960, a number of developments coincided to lay the foundation for the isolation and alienation of the urban poor that characterize our cities-and our city schools-today. the migration to cities of southern blacks fleeing poverty, segregation, inadequate education, federally subsidized suburbanization of white families and manufacturing firms leaving these same cities, federal and state policies that did not adequately address the problems festering in urban neighborhoods, corporate disinterest, and local political patronage and corruption.

Within two decades, major American cities had drastically transformed from predominantly manufacturing to white collar industry. In the early 1940's, New York's manufacturing industry employed a little over 40 percent of the total working population. By the 1960's, the vast majority of those jobs had been displaced by employment opportunities in the corporate, real estate, banking, financial, legal, and insurance industries, as well as civil service jobs in the growing bureaucracy of New York. Under the auspices of Fiorello LaGuardia and Robert Moses, New York was transformed from an industrial working-class city to a corporate center with a booming middle-class. Investments shifted from the funding and supporting of urban infrastructure, including city schools, to financing middle-class housing and a growing service industry. Meanwhile, in 1950's New Jersey, the dispersal of manufacturing jobs from urban centers to the suburbs (and later abroad) accelerated the pace. The relocation of the manufacturing sector outside the reach of poor urban communities of color was aided by federal subsidies worth a little over 120 billion dollars. Resources for sustaining a viable community in poor areas, many of which were predominantly black or latino, were increasingly scarce. White flight and deindustrialization shifted good jobs away from them, creating a socially isolated superfluous population without the means to access white-collar jobs.

The effects of white flight and urban disinvestment would have generational reverberations, many youth of color were effectively shut out from jobs in the high-tech industry through the lack of educational preparedness available to them. Public schools in poor urban communities did little more than warehouse children in poor conditions. The institution funneled these youth into positions of subordination in the new economuy. Urban schools prepared youth for low-wage service sector jobs through a curriculum that emphasized discipline and conformity. They also pushed insubordinate youth into the juvenile justice system. City schools just did not have the adequate resources to provide a contemporary and quality education for its poor children.