Perhaps the best thing that can be said about the president’s new program “My Brother’s Keeper” is that there’s not much in the way of public funding supporting it. The vast majority of the $200 million budget for this five-year program that is supposed to help black youth is coming from private foundations. Unfortunately, the efforts seem completely misguided.
Atlantic Philanthropies sent out a press release touting their participation, for example, citing the group’s previous efforts at addressing racial disparities in this country. (The description should give us some ideas where this new program is headed.) “These include investments to expand community schools and access to health care for disadvantaged children and to reform discriminatory school discipline practices and racial disparities within educational and judicial systems.”
The things that have actually been shown to help black youth--including keeping them out of prison--are getting an education and getting a job. High performing charter schools and private schools have a much better record than so-called “community schools” at making sure kids graduate and actually learn something.
As far as reforming “discriminatory school discipline practices,” the push to keep misbehaving black kids in school only hurts the well-behaved black students in their classes who are actually there to learn something. Parents who are chomping at the bit to get their kids into charter schools or Catholic schools are worried not just about the academic performance of their neighborhood schools. They are concerned about about their children’s safety. But if a traditional public school principal has to wonder if he has suspended too many kids of the wrong color, the problem will only get worse.
Which is of course what Atlantic Philanthropies would like police officers to wonder too. The concern for law enforcement, according to Atlantic Philanthropies, should not be whether they are stopping crime but whether their suspects are the wrong color. The press release brags about the foundation’s involvement in ending “stop and frisk” policing, a policy that, by the way, has resulted in greater safety for hundreds of thousands of law-abiding black people living in urban neighborhoods.
Finally, Atlantic says that while its last grants are going to be given out in 2016, the foundation’s administration plans to help ensure “income security” for vulnerable people. By partnering with a president who has pushed mercilessly for a rise in the minimum wage, though, the foundation has all but ensured that fewer black men will be able to secure the entry-level jobs that allow them access to rest of the work force and the “income security” they so badly need.