Sunday, October 25, 2015

Trying to find a future in the Delta.

Washington ____ reporter Chico Harlan paid another visit to the Delta as he published another story on Mississippi poverty in the newspaper's Lost Opportunity in the Deep South series: 

The day of his high school graduation, like so many of the days before, began with chaos. Ruleville Central had pledged to lock its front doors an hour before the ceremony to prevent a crowd overflow, and Jadareous Davis was still at his grandmother’s home six miles up the road, time slipping away. Davis scanned through his mental checklist. Shoes? His older brother hadn’t yet swung by to drop off a pair. Bow tie? Maybe he could borrow one from a neighbor. Pants? Davis wasn’t even sure whether the dress code mandated black or brown, and he called a friend for help.

“Hey, what color pants we supposed to be wearing?” he said over the phone.

His grandmother’s voice blared from the other room.

“Quarter after nine!” she said. “C’mon, fellas! I don’t want to be locked out.”

Davis, 19, was about to graduate from one of the poorest-performing schools in a region of America that offers the bleakest landscape for the young, and the moment came with equal parts excitement and dread: As he entered adulthood, there was no telling when or how all the combustible parts of his life might now blow up.

Davis’s senior year had doubled as a reminder about all the hazards. He barely had a stable place to live and had moved months earlier to the far edge of town, taking over a dim unit paid for by his aunt after he grew sick of sleeping on a love seat at his grandmother’s cramped place. Davis had little family support; he’d fought with his mother so furiously several years back, his solution now was to simply not see her. He also was graduating with a debt — $1,200, the fine for driving his aunt’s car without insurance and then skipping a court date.

Toughest of all, graduation meant stepping into a place providing few examples of something better. His street in Drew consisted of a rusting cotton gin and a row of boarded-up storefronts. His neighborhood had a thriving drug trade that took place near an abandoned building with “For Colored” painted atop a doorway. His county had a poverty rate nearly three times the national average, at 36 percent. His state had the lowest median income in the nation and the second-highest incarceration rates. He could drive for two hours in any direction without finding a local jobless rate resembling anything near the national average.

The Deep South’s paralyzing intergenerational poverty is the devastating sum of problems both historical and emergent — ones that, in the life of a young man, can build in childhood and then erupt in early adulthood. Students such as Davis deal with traumas at home and dysfunction at school — only to find themselves, as graduates, searching for low-paying jobs in states that have been reluctant to fund programs that help the poor. That cycle carries implications not only for the current generation, but also for the ones to come, and holds back a region that has fallen further behind the rest of the nation.

Davis had spent his high school years at Ruleville Central, a one-story, red-brick building built in 1958, where the clocks don’t work and where 55 percent graduate on time, according to state data, well below the state rate of 76 percent....

Here in the Deep South, poverty perpetuates from generation to generation like in no other region of the country, data shows, and the obstacles that hold back new high school graduates shine a light on a vast economic struggle that differs in its expansiveness from the concentrated problems seen in urban hubs.

In recent years, shriveling job prospects for the high-school-educated and scant state support for the poor have combined with the Deep South’s more timeworn problems — single-parenthood and under-education — to diminish the chances of a middle-class life for somebody born into poverty. In Mississippi, if high school graduates don’t advance to college, they have a 77 percent chance, compared with 67 percent nationally, that their children will grow up poor, according to the National Center for Children in Poverty....  Rest of the article. 

Kingfish note: Here is some additional information about Ruleville Central High School that was not included in the article:

*Ruleville Central H.S. earned an "F" in 2014 but Ruleville Middle School earned an "A". 
*Unwed birthrate is 78% in 2010 according to the Mississippi Department of Health.
*Sunflower County School District received a "C" in 2014.
*Dropout rate at Ruleville Central H.S. is 24%.  Graduation rate is indeed 55% as stated in the article BUT
*The 2013 Children's First Report states that only 43% of SCSD employees were teachers.
*District had zero nationally certified teachers in 2013.
*Combined local, state, and federal spending per student are $12,595. State: $5,294, Local: $2,294, Federal: $5,008.


Anonymous said...

Stop common core and 42 or the boogie man will come and get you.

Anonymous said...

A article about a poor kid in the poor delta who has made poor decisions (car, skipping court) so I searched for the word "father" and 0 results popped up.

Anonymous said...

Nothing, of course, about the heritability of intelligence, among other highly heritable traits. Nothing about the fact that the better & brighter have been leaving for decades - maybe since World War One - leaving behind, those who are least capable.

In any event, anyone seeking to help the poor of the Delta needs only to help EVACUATE THEM FROM THE DELTA.

Atlanta is the ideal destination. Poor Mississippians of all races THRIVE, once transplanted to Atlanta.

Instead of EXPLOITING Mississippi's poor by writing about them (Hodding Carter would never have won the Pulitzer Prize, Faulkner would have been a nobody, and nobody else from Mississippi would ever have been published, or made a movie, had they not worked that angle. The latest example, I suppose, would be those who wrote/made 'The Help'), maybe these concerned with the welfare of the Delta's poor should be buying them BUS TICKETS TO ATLANTA. Or renting U-hauls for them, or maybe loading up tour buses or charter planes - headed to Atlanta, where services abound, and WHERE THERE IS HOPE (and where airplanes don't dump insecticides on you, and the ground does not reek of cancer-causing herbicides).

Mo Money, Mo Money said...

Sunflower County is another place where the Superintendent of Schools is elected. GOD forbid though that we effort to change that.

Anonymous said...

The family could have been at the school 2 hours early and waited in a lawn chair. Nobody was motivated enough to go early, yet they bang on the doors "expecting" to get in. The teen was criticized for ironing a shirt to look neat. Hope the school pays off and he never has to go back.

Anonymous said...

1. Seduced by something "free" that is still a poor, poor living
2. Lyndon Johnson
3. Ted Kennedy

Anonymous said...


Well said.

Anonymous said...

@4:26 I toally agree with moving folks from a sinking ship. You diminish your ideas with the rest though. And there is nothing that more money into the Delta and crappy schools will fix. New tires on a var with no engine is plain stupid.

Anonymous said...

May I ask what was the point the writer was trying to make? The Delta is just the same as Detroit or any other "urban" area. The inhabitants don't want to work.

Anonymous said...

It is sad how far removed all of you are from poverty-- and further, how hardened your hearts are to trying and help it.

I hope God can challenge you and soften you to help your fellow man.

BenBit said...

Hey Chico,

I know you are aware that DC and Baltimore (you know, you're backyard) have massive problems along the same lines as Ruleville. I'm sure you are tired of reading and writing about those issues and realize you can't win any national writing awards with those stories anyway.

But, if you truly want to help us out in lil' ole Mississippi, why don't you actually dig deep and report the real issues. This kind of article is tired, tired and absolutely pointless in effecting any change.

Anonymous said...

@9:26. You may want to check your own grammatical errors before you slam others. Unless of course they're all "typos...."

These are real issues. Whether or not they affect you is another story. Telling the story of another does not in any way diminish you as a person. Or at least it shouldn't. Work on your self esteem if it does.

It is so very easy for you all to say "just move" without considering exactly how these folks are supposed to move when they have no resources to do so. And go to Atlanta for what? If they're under-educated in Mississippi, God knows they're under-educated in Georgia as well.

Y'all are ridiculous. But I have to believe that you know you are, and enjoy being so. Carry on...

Anonymous said...

@9:15 AM, John 8:7

Anonymous said...

Show us 9:46 where 9:26 made any mention of grammatical errors at all.

Anonymous said...

Just another lib journalist having a dry spell. What better way to get back in the game by heading to the Delta and rehashing the same old tired crap. Chico also has an article about spanking students in Greenwood that he wrote during his tour of the Delta. These kind of stories are a must have on any good journalist's resume looking to make a career of "exposing injustice".

Anonymous said...

The Delta and most of the river counties are an economic disaster zone. These regions have been since the invention of the mechanical cotton picker and the complete mechanization of agriculture came to the Delta in the late 40's and early 50s. See Dattel - Race and Cotton in the Making of America, Chapters 21 and 26 . Unfortunately the Great Society programs of the 60s stopped the exodus. Why leave and find a job when you can stay where you are and receive a check from Uncle Sam. The same occurred in Appalachia. Only difference is they are all white.

If you really want to help then support programs that get people OUT of the Delta! Supporting another study, another NGO, another federal program, another county "industrial park", another teacher recruitment effort, etc accomplishes nothing. There are NO JOBS in the Delta for 95% of the population. NOTHING will change without employment and that only happens when people can get to the employment. Sadly our politicians on both sides have allowed huge amounts of our industry that could provide jobs to be exported under the banner of FREE TRADE. You want to see how free trade works out - drive around the Delta, drive around many parts of the South. Just drive around the USA and see the unbelievable number of vacant factories.

Anonymous said...

@9:57. I continue to forget the average reading/comprehension level is 5th grade.

I did not say that 9:26 made any mention of grammatical errors. I am suggesting that if one is going to insult another - as 9:26 is clearly attempting to do - one's own use of grammar and punctuation should be flawless. 9:26 clearly needs a few refreshers.

I apologize for not being clear enough for you.

What, Me Work? said...

Hodding Carter and his ilk, not mechanization, did more to destroy 'The Delta' than any other person or factor or combination of factors. He alone gave rise to liberalism in a place where none needed to exist. Through the growth of the seed of liberalism spurted by Carter (and his latter day prophets) the Delta moved along on the path that resulted in where it is today. The work of Hodding Carter (and family) along with the disaster that is LBJ's Great Society was enough to turn sunshine to shit.

BenBit said...

9:46 and 11:58 (speaking of comprehension, as I have stated in other threads, creating a handle is very simple and still Anonymous. If you are going to call people out, at least give yourself a name)

I'm not about to get into a ridiculous debate about grammar on the internet. I assume you are referring to my misuse of you're in place of your. I reread my post and believe the point I was making is clear for anyone with sufficient reading comprehension, so the grammar comment is just petty.

I agree with you completely that the sad issues in the Delta and in many other areas are real issues. The point I was making is that the author of this article is bringing no new or useful light to the subject.

You say I slammed and insulted him. I respectfully disagree. I simply called him out for what I felt was self aggrandizing reporting which provided nothing of use for the area he is covering.

Now calling adults you don't know ridiculous and indicating they read at a 5th grade level, that would be insulting.

Anonymous said...

Modern Farm Equipment has replaced the Antique Farm Equipment. The problem is that we are still having to pay for the Antique Farm Equipment.

Anonymous said...

BenBit? I'll show you mine if you show me yours. And I never said I wasn't petty - that's pretty much the point of this whole site as far as I can tell...

I will say I'm not certain that just because you don't find something new or useful doesn't mean that it isn't to others. But, I understand your point. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

1:46 - excellent analogy. And those sad miserable people would be ecstatic if someone actually gave a damn and helped them get out. They are like victims of a hurricane that no one will evacuate. Sick. These poor people make great photo ops for liberals, but you will never hear a liberal say to someone in the Delta, 'get in the car and lets get you out of here'. And if conservatives try to help we are accused of being racist and just trying to change the voting demographics.

Anonymous said...

11:48 is apparently the only person on this site who has read a history book. To suggest that people don't want to work is just plain stupid. The majority of jobs in the Delta region were agriculture, and people worked with their hands. As technology advances, people lose jobs. A lot of us who think we're living in our little paradises now will eventually become victims of technology. It sickens me when educated adults look at one person of any race and assume that all other people of that race must be the same. Sometimes I think Mississippians enjoy being at the bottom. There is a lot of hate and backwards thinking in this State.

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Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

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In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

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If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

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