There's a glaring contradiction here.

You're dismissive of calls to "try harder" or "ask wide swaths of Black America to imitate foreign cultures". The underlying idea is the fatalistic one that cultures can't change themselves and are eternally locked into past modes of behavior without outside forces coming in as saviors.

But then the entire article itself is one big plea that "we do something different" and "we be financially and culturally supportive of families". Who is "we" if not the broader population and culture?

So how can you expect the culture of society to change while simultaneously dismissing the possibility of changing the culture of the people who are actually suffering with illiteracy and poverty? My guess is it's less about the logic of what is possible and more about where you are comfortable assigning blame and agency.

That seems even more obvious when you so completely lay out the solution:

"...he was dedicated to ensure I could read so that I wouldn’t struggle as he did. As early as Kindergarten my father made me do ‘Hooked on Phonics’ sets at grades beyond my age level. He had me read books and I had siblings to read to me at night. Thus, I never once struggled with English..."

What if opinion writers, politicians, sports and music and media stars and activists made that paragraph their central message, instead of victimization narratives? What if the people who care about Black poverty in the Bay Area were doing everything in their power to motivate the children and parents there to do what Mr Owens father did?

"Moreover the idea that Black people don’t value education is absurd". Gimme a break. Are you telling me every single parent there values education as much as they should and it is ONLY economic hardships that keep them from pushing their children? Every Black parent there that can is getting their kids Hooked on Phonics? I'm not very familiar with Black families in SF, but many of the parents in the blue collar white neighborhood I grew up in didn't value education. Few were doing what your dad did (but a few were, we all did well). One of my friends from math / chess teams had a step-father who would throw his Math books away. If the kids in my neighborhood would've benefited from cultural leaders pushing education then surely a worse performing neighborhood in SF would benefit even more.

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I mean, this is entirely maintaining a victim mentality, where personal responsibility is not a factor at all. And it's based entirely on the idea that you're "owed". The fact is, we've spend an estimated $2 trillion on Great Society-focused social programs designed to lift Black students up since the 1960s. Massive amounts of scholarships, affirmative action placements, and thousands of programs have been implemented. The fact is, there are very severe social forces at work which are then totally ignored here but have been keys to success in every other ethnic group in the US.

Imbalanced incarceration rate? Sure- because Blacks commit crimes at an exponentially higher rate than anyone else. Lack of support at home? 78% of Black births are done out of wedlock. That's no one else's fault.

Rather than blaming others, there is next to zero examination of what other ethnic groups have done to lift themselves up. My white family was extremely poor two generations ago- they were Okies that were actively discriminated against. Education was/is considered a paramount value. Self sufficiency is taught like a religion. Hard work is idolized. The idea of committing any sort of crime is extremely frowned up. We're not rich or by any means. But we certainly never qualified for scholarships; we all have student debt.

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But the dollar amount debate helps illustrate the point; it will never be enough. $2, 4, 6 trillion. One thing that’s so discouraging is that even after all that we’ve spent, there’s a fixation of declaring that absurd amounts of money are still owed. Essentially, what was spent only served the purpose of getting us to a point where.....we need to cough up that much more. So in light of this, it’s important to take a step back and ask some questions, and have a conversation where some difficult observations are made.

A refrain that you’re hearing over and over again from school administrators and teachers is that they’re afraid to discipline Black students out of fear of being labeled as racist. Classes are free to be disrupted, bullies can bully, and violence is continuing. Because it’s so, so easy to scream victim. This coddling is not just harmful to the victims, but to the offenders. It does absolutely no good to tolerate lowered expectations. SFUSD in particular has a massive problem with this, and to what end? Low performance, migration of students from families with means out of the district, and lowered funding as a result.

My point is not to claim that anyone is lazy. My point is that there is a mantra of victimhood that is being promoted and perpetuated that is incredibly harmful. This is what other ethnic groups simply do not promote. Now, one may argue that Blacks may have had a rougher go. Maybe. But every ethnic group can claim to be oppressed at certain levels, some with more heft than others. And winning this argument does not help one get ahead.

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Question-- if we consider only the bottom two quintiles by parental income (or similar lower-income set of people) then does the racial attainment gap in reading proficiency disappear?

I think this type of data might help to make clearer how much of the gap is due to relative poverty and how much is "something else"..

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