Jewish World Review Feb. 24, 2004 / 2 Adar, 5764
answer to job losses
There is a big discussion going on about what is called outsourcing, which means American corporations sending jobs overseas for cheaper labor.
The foreign workers are not just the sweatshop types who create controversy every time they are discovered, as with those who made Michael Jordan's basketball shoe line. They also do white-collar high-tech jobs that would pay perhaps $150,000 a year in this country but pay $20,000 a year in India or China, a salary differential that is very attractive to companies.
These shifts in a job market that runs at the velocity of E-mail make it even more obvious how bold and forward-looking New York Mayor Bloomberg's vision of public education is.
The mayor has made one point over and over, and it is one that we had better think about: Only 9% of the Afro-American and Latino students who entered New York City public high schools in 1998 graduated with a Regents diploma four years later. This foreshadows a dark future for those kids.
In Bloomberg's words, "In today's knowledge-based economy, that means that more than 90% of those students are in danger of permanent status as second-class citizens."
Some people will continue to do well while our economy adjusts to the new technology and a business philosophy that inevitably focuses on the bottom line. We can almost always count on such a focus from a business world in which investors have no long-term concerns and aggressively make it clear that they want to see profitable returns even sooner than immediately.
But what we also need is long-range thinking by politicians, almost none of whom has been willing to suggest that the American people need to invest in their greatest natural resource: our population. The idea that America might need to sacrifice in the interest of its future is unfathomable, even unmentionable to most politicians.
Some of this has to do with the fact that billions have been spent on the betterment of the Negro since 1965, but most of it seems a waste, given what we see now.
Sure, a number of black people made it into the middle class. But between all the shallow thinking and lack of structural planning - not to mention the disruptions created by drugs and single-parent households - we find far too many blacks in an emergency mess that no longer can be ignored.
In other words, while America and the world move on to handle the changes wrought by technology, the black lower class will remain trapped outside its own time period unless it is given a high-level education - or, if necessary, reeducation.
There are schools - for example, the Thurgood Marshall Academy in Harlem - that prove sound teaching methods and a dedicated faculty can get the job done. Those models need to spread across the nation, now.
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JWR contributor and cultural icon Stanley Crouch is a columnist for The New York Daily News. He is the author of, among others, The All-American Skin Game, Or, the Decoy
of Race: The Long and the Short of It, 1990-1994, Always in Pursuit: Fresh American
Perspectives, and Don't the Moon Look Lonesome: A Novel in Blues and Swing. Send your comments by clicking here.
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