Friday, June 08, 2007

Race, Culture, and Crime

In a recent post, Mike linked to a study by economists James Heckman and Deitriy Masterov, which argues that the education of young children (pre-K) provides the greatest return on investment. In contrast, trying to educate the brains of adolescents, the economists say, is largely a waste of resources

The latter conclusion came to mind when I happened across a report issued last month by a think-tank, Policy Bridge, based in Northeast Ohio. According to its web site, the key objective of Policy Bridge is "to monitor urban policy issues and inform regional public policy debates by framing issues of relevance to the minority community."

The report is entitled, "The Rap on Culture: How Anti-Educational Messages in Media, at Home & on the Street Hold Back African-American Youth." It pulls no punches in its condemnation of social influences (foremost among them, Hip-Hop), that, according to the report's authors, have had such a devastatingly corrosive impact on the academic progress of black students, particularly those residing in low-income, urban environments.

For many progressives, the report and its conclusions will doubtless make for uncomfortable reading. But for those of us who (correctly, I believe) decisively proclaim that a greater investment in education will ultimately pay far greater dividends then the construction of prisons, the issue of culture and its often deleterious impact will inevitably have to be forthrightly acknowledged and addressed.

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