My article on the 2016 election generated some reaction, some of which I’ll address in this post.
But before I get to that, some notes (and jokes) on Donald Trump’s shocking victory:
—We can thank the rise in politically-correct rhetoric on jobs, race relations, and education for Trump’s victory. You can only lambaste Middle America for so long before they buck.
Trump’s ascendancy was a natural counter-reaction to that.
—Hillary’s smaller-than-expected showing at the ballot box is a fascinating case study in voter psychology.
People routinely lie to save face in public. You can state that you support Hillary with little fear of being branded a bigot.
Can’t do the same for Trump
Many respondents might have said they were pro-Clinton while the cameras were rolling and secretly voted for Trump.
—Clinton’s camp had celebrations ready across the country, in anticipation of her coronation. As news trickled in that Trump was gobbling up battleground states, fans at Clinton HQ looked like one of those top seeds in the NCAA tournament that gets stunned early.
Did that just happen?
—On NFL player Colin Kaepernick’s choice to abstain from voting because he didn’t like “the two candidates”.…
I had the following exchange with a friend, who suggested that Kaep’s vote wasn’t important and that factory workers in rust belt states who backed Trump were barking up the wrong tree:
Friend: “Well those factory jobs aren’t coming back….if they do they will be in the form of automation and robotics.”
Kene: “Kaep is like a factory worker who doesn’t like his wages and work conditions, but won’t go to union meetings to battle management.”
Nice to see him setting such a great example.
It doesn’t matter what money he is donating behind the scenes; his public statement against voting carries a lot of weight with people who look up to him.
Individual votes don’t mean much in the national election, sure, but they’re important in local elections. It’s one of the most direct forms of community organizing available for the disenfranchised bloc Kaep claims he’s kneeling for.
It’s not so much the actual act of not voting that’s shameful; it’s the thought process behind that mindset of “voting doesn’t matter” that’s troubling.
A man that clamors for change and then forgoes his right to voice his opinion is a guy we can’t respect.
“But Kene, athletes aren’t supposed to be role models. That’s the job of parents.”
Kaepernick wanted to make a statement to the public, be a symbol for progress. He accepted the publicity, so he’s got to handle the criticism, too.
He did himself a disservice.
—On Green Party Candidate Jill Stein…
Friend: “Nobody is talking about Jill Stein.”
Kene: “She’s not worth talking about. She’s like the 12th man on an NBA team…she’s there, but she’s not really there.”
—A final joke I made to a few friends when it was all said and done…..
“Apparently, they’re now doing fashion shows in Haiti and Zimbabwe with “Congratulations, Hillary” shirts.”
Trump has his warts. Let’s hope he can be molded in to a leader that keeps America moving forward.
Now that that’s out of the way, back to the election piece:
Minorities, in particular, who vote Democrat en masse, no matter how they’ve been treated, should go another route, if only for one vote. Democrats have taken minority support for granted for decades. Education and economic landscapes in inner cities across the country remain in shambles–despite lofty promises from long-term Democratic incumbents.
That struck a chord with some.
The school problem is nuanced. I have a long article saved in my drafts that I’ll eventually complete. on some of the reasons behind failure in inner-city schools.
A reader suggested that funding disparity–fueled by differences in property taxes—plays a major role in the faltering of inner-city schools:
Solid reporting from NPR. It raises two questions:
1) “How do we close this funding gap?”
2) “Are income gaps the proximate cause of minority failure in education?”
The answer to the first question varies, and it’s not something that can be legislated away. You cannot take money from one district’s taxpayers to give to another’s. Forcibly busing kids in to different districts should be avoided as well.
Charter schools and school vouchers are worth exploring.
If you’re talking about creating more economic opportunities to raise household incomes, that’s another animal.
You would need to prioritize adding more in-demand skills through education (Circular logic? Yup.). You’d also have to squash some of the thinking that keeps people mired in poverty: No more payday loans, check cashing joints, and other money mistakes.
The cost to roll out these awareness programs across the nation would be astronomical, nearly-impossible to coordinate.
And who would spearhead this effort? The government? These are the same people who are in charge of the education systems you despise now. You really going to trust them?.
Many of these problems get solved with personal responsibility: Hold others accountable for their actions, but make sure you pull your own weight and stay ready to listen and learn.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22: 6
The answer to the second question—”Is funding disparity the biggest hindrance to school success?”—is “no”.
Does lower per-capita income impact education outcomes in poor areas? Absolutely. Less access to resources means less spending on education and an uphill battle for students.
But there are other lurking variables at play.
There’s no bigger impact on a kid’s chances for academic success than family involvement. A child’s home environment plays a critical role in shaping the environments they spend their formative years in.
Do your parents give you an earful if you score less than a 95 or are they satisfied as long as you stay academically-eligible for the basketball team? Is your mom on a first name basis with your teacher or would she struggle to pick her out of a lineup?
Bad schools are full of kids with families who are less than fully-committed to the academic process—more money per student will not change that.
Again, parental involvement is paramount. I’m not talking about lip service here: If an outsider were watching your every move, would they believe that academic excellence was a priority for you?
The mere presence of an engaged parent boosts a child’s chances of success exponentially. It’s not the actual act of sticking a book in a kid’s hand that works magic; it’s the thought process behind that move that suggests a kid is living in a household that facilitates achievement.
If finances were truly the biggest cause of achievement gaps, we wouldn’t have immigrants from West Africa and Asia who routinely make the Honor Roll and ace standardized tests. Many of those students come from poverty that makes East St. Louis seem like Beverly Hills.
That’s not a popular view, but it has merit.
A motivated student in a bad school can still emerge from their surroundings and become a success, holding tight to virtues instilled by the adults around them.
I’m not excusing school funding disparity or denying its existence—I’m supporting a more pro-active response to the academic performance problem.
We have a surprising amount of agency and there are too many people spreading a message of victimhood to further their own agenda.
There’s a lot of “correlation/causation” surrounding the relationship between school funding and school performance. We should continue to press for capital improvements within school districts while ensuring we don’t give kids excuses to settle for mediocrity.
The value of a good school goes beyond the textbooks and teachers supplied by the budget; it’s the people you have access to. The friends and networks your kid is connected to and long-term gains compounded by that proximity.
When some investment banking firm is looking for a new summer analyst, who is more likely to get the gig: the kid who beamed his resume in to the online application form–along with a thousand other hopefuls from across the country–or the kid whose father plays tennis with one of the managing directors every Saturday morning?
There’s a lot to be gained–or lost–by osmosis and network effects construct glass ceilings in every level of society.
“But Kene, we shouldn’t have to live in a world with such disparity. We can’t succeed because [Insert socio-economic problem].”
So, devote your life to changing it.
Start by researching the root causes of these problems: dive beyond superficial talking points and anecdotal evidence.
Or focus on learning how to deliver value to others so you can be an in-demand asset no matter what your background.
Beyond that, I don’t know what to tell you—Life isn’t fair.
You can sit and whine about iniquity, finding excuses for losing, or you can hunt for ways to win despite your handicaps.
The choice is yours.