"Poverty is a very complex problem, and one must be careful to not appeal to simplistic explanations of it's causes." -C. Rene Padilla, The Justice Project
It's impossible to pinpoint the exact cause of poverty (aside from the Sunday school answer of "Sin", but come on right?). I laugh when I think of myself trying to give my take on a subject that is far beyond my reach and expertise (do I even have an expertise?). However, from study, from observation, from learning from others, and from some personal experiences, I offer you a quick synopsis of steps in the right direction towards alleviating poverty:
1. What if there was public policy in the place that required you to live in the neighborhood or community in which you provide services to. Think of the impact of having teachers, police men, doctors, pastors, and anybody who provides 'services' to a community actually be present in the community. Not commuters into the community, but rather committed stable neighbors. Think of the snowball effect that would have on the community as a whole?
2. What if there was an incentive for teachers to teach in high-need schools? I know there are steps being taken to make this happen, but what if there was a nationwide incentive program for teachers to teach where the need is the highest? Imagine the benefits of having this newfound pipeline of some of the best and brightest teachers teaching kids who need them the most.
3. What if having male elementary school teachers became normal? Think about the benefits some kids would receive by having a male in a leadership and authoritative role in their life. Kids, especially boys, need to have an influx of quality older male role models in their lives. Especially from a young age (hence elementary school teacher). And from the little I've seen, most kids don't even see, must less have, a male teacher until about late middle school or so. I don't know if there is research to support this claim, but having more male elementary school teachers teaching in high-need schools will reap great rewards over time.
4. What if there were laws that required developers to include a certain percentage of affordable housing units in new housing developments (inclusionary zoning)? In Raleigh, inclusionary zoning is not a required practice. Instead, what is happening all over the city is missed opportunities. For example, the new North Hills housing developments off Six Forks Rd. have ZERO units set aside for affordable housing. The lack of movement to enact laws and requirements to build and set aside units for affordable housing will undoubtedly lead to a variety of problems including concentrations of poverty, lack of entry to jobs, and the whole school reassignment issue. Davidson was the first city/town in North Carolina to adopt a mandatory ordinance. Come on Raleigh!
5. What if gentrification could be harnessed for something good? I believe it can but the greed and desire for these new transplant neighbors to make good on their investment hinders true community from ever forming. Gentrification as an evil entity is a slow way to exploit and displace people. At the same time gentrification can have many great perks. It is something that can be good and life-giving. In this form, it's a necessary step towards revitalization. The great community developer Nehemiah in the Old Testament didn't call all the people of Persia to come and inhabit Jerusalem. He called one of ten to come and dwell in Jerusalem (Nehemiah 11:1-2). Because all or too many of the Persian people coming to live in Jerusalem would have been detrimental to the existing make-up of the city. So, what if gentrification could be harnessed for good?
6. New question stemming from number five above, What if the Church community tithed it's people in this way? (notice: Church, Big C)
Those are just a quick six and I might add more later if I get the chance to.
6 days ago