HBCUs, lib­er­tar­ian al­liance aim to help fight poverty

Dayton Daily News - - IDEAS & VOICES - Star Parker She writes for Creators Syn­di­cate.

In 2015, as told on the Cen­ter for Ad­vanc­ing Op­por­tu­nity web­site, Johnny C. Tay­lor Jr., then-pres­i­dent of the Thur­good Mar­shall Col­lege Fund, heard lib­er­tar­ian bil­lion­aire busi­ness­man Charles Koch, in a TV in­ter­view, dis­cussing elim­i­nat­ing bar­ri­ers to op­por­tu­nity.

Tay­lor reached out to Koch, and the re­sult was a Koch con­tri­bu­tion of $25.6 mil­lion to the TMCF to es­tab­lish the Cen­ter for Ad­vanc­ing Op­por­tu­nity.

Although there is no short­age of re­search on poverty in Amer­ica, CAO’s in­no­va­tion is to study the prob­lem by go­ing into these com­mu­ni­ties, see­ing how the lo­cals think and de­vis­ing lo­cal so­lu­tions. The Cen­ter, ac­cord­ing to Koch, “brings to­gether stu­dents and fac­ulty from His­tor­i­cally Black Col­leges and Uni­ver­si­ties with com­mu­nity mem­bers to study and col­lect data about crim­i­nal jus­tice, ed­u­ca­tion, and en­trepreneur­ship and for­mu­late lo­cally in­formed so­lu­tions to them.”

Now CAO has brought in an­other part­ner, Gallup, and has re­leased its first ma­jor sur­vey: “The State of Op­por­tu­nity in Amer­ica: Un­der­stand­ing Bar­ri­ers & Iden­ti­fy­ing So­lu­tions.”

The re­search ex­am­ines “frag­ile” com­mu­ni­ties, de­fined as “ar­eas with high pro­por­tions of res­i­dents who strug­gle fi­nan­cially in their daily lives and have lim­ited op­por­tu­ni­ties for so­cial mo­bil­ity.”

Sixty-six per­cent of these com­mu­ni­ties are black or His­panic, 58 per­cent earn less than $34,999, and 12 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion have a bach­e­lor’s de­gree or more.

Not so sur­pris­ing is that in­di­vid­u­als in these com­mu­ni­ties are strug­gling. Forty-four per­cent say that there were times dur­ing the past year that they were un­able to af­ford food. Thirty-eight per­cent work full time. Fifty-one per­cent be­lieve crime in their com­mu­nity has in­creased “over the last few years.”

Only 32 per­cent strongly agree or agree that all chil­dren in their com­mu­nity have ac­cess to high-qual­ity pub­lic schools.

But de­spite chal­leng­ing life cir­cum­stances, in­di­vid­u­als in these com­mu­ni­ties re­main re­silient and op­ti­mistic. Sixty-eight per­cent of the res­i­dents of these com­mu­ni­ties, com­pared to 79 per­cent of all Amer­i­cans, agree that Amer­i­cans “can get ahead” by “work­ing hard.” What con­cerns me are the per­cep­tions that res­i­dents of these frag­ile com­mu­ni­ties have re­gard­ing poli­cies that they say they think will im­prove their sit­u­a­tions. Raise the min­i­mum wage, more funds to pub­lic schools, more govern­ment spend­ing.

This demon­strates the great need for con­ser­va­tive thought lead­ers to spend qual­ity time in these com­mu­ni­ties ed­u­cat­ing res­i­dents about ideas that have failed and dis­cussing in­no­va­tive ideas that can bring the re­sults they seek.

How can we change the tax and reg­u­la­tory re­al­i­ties of these com­mu­ni­ties to at­tract busi­ness? How can school vouch­ers and tax cred­its cre­ate schools that can serve the spe­cial needs of these com­mu­ni­ties? How can hous­ing vouch­ers pro­vide the flex­i­bil­ity for these in­di­vid­u­als to ben­e­fit from govern­ment hous­ing as­sis­tance but still al­low them to move and choose where they want to live?

The meet­ing of minds be­tween the lib­er­tar­ian Kochs and the largely tra­di­tion­ally Demo­cratic com­mu­ni­ties of HBCU’s can pro­duce new un­der­stand­ing and in­sights to fight poverty.

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