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									Poverty and homelessness

Adapted 9th month, 2005

James Yarsky
   1      Course description                                                                                           1
   2      Who are the poor and why are they poor?                                                                      4
   3      Solutions for poverty                                                                                       54
   4      Homelessness and community service                                                                          68

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Course description                                                                 Section 1

Section 1

Course description

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Course description                                                                                                         Section 1

Course description
Poverty and Homelessness, an integral part of Friends Academy for many years, puts into practice the
belief that service to humanity is central to our educational mission as Quaker school. The purpose of
this course is to explore the reasons we do service as well as learn more about the social problems of the
poor and actions that can be taken to alleviate poverty. At the end of the term, students will have an
opportunity to participate in a two-day work camp serving the poor and homeless of New York City.

This course contains the following components

Part 1 Who are the poor and why are they poor?

This question guides much of the course. Students will hear stories of actual families living at or below
the poverty line and develop a greater understanding of the complexities of poverty. Students will also
learn about the liberal/conservative debate on the causes of poverty and have a chance to debate the
questions posed from the readings provided. Occasionally, guest speakers will lecture the class with
personal accounts of this issue.

Part 2 What are the solutions to poverty?

Students learn about past and current anti-poverty programs and study the current discussion about the
future of these programs. Students examine different solutions to poverty in order to come up with their
own plan to combat poverty in the United States. It can be assumed that many Friends Academy
graduates will go on to work in positions of power (law, medicine, politics); Poverty and Homelessness
offers them a perspective on a problem they may otherwise never hear. FA hopes they take these
experiences with them on their future endeavors.

Part 3 Homelessness

We will discuss the issues surrounding homelessness and participate in an overnight service project in
New York City. At Youth Service Opportunity Project (YSOP), which is based at the Friends Seminary
School, we will serve meals to homeless and hungry people in various shelters, drop-in centers and soup
kitchens. Our trip is scheduled for each term and is a required part of this course.

Part 4 Why service?

In this part of the course, students learn the different traditions that encourage people to pursue service as
an important part of what it means to be human. In addition, students look at the impact of volunteerism
and charity, as well as the experiences of people who have devoted their lives to service.

Required materials
   Handouts for homework. Eventually, a Reader will be published for the course. As for now, all
    reading assignments will be Xeroxed copies of articles and selections from books. Some source
    material includes: Zinn‘s—Peoples History of the United States, Ehrenrich‘s—Nickle and Dimed
    (On not getting by in America); Kozol‘s— Amazing Grace; Neelly‘s—Habits of the Heart;

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Course description                                                                                                         Section 1

    Miller‘s—The two percent solution; and various essays by the likes of Cornell West, Noam
    Chomsky, David Brookes, William Bennett, Ralph Nader, Jack Kemp and PJ O‘Rourke.

Student Expectations
   Bring intellectual curiosity and openness, critical reasoning and energy to class.
   Actively participate in class discussions and feel free to ask questions.
   Respect the comments and opinions of the teacher and your peers.
   Bring reading material to class.

Methods of assessment

Students will be evaluated according to the thoroughness and originality of written work (3 essays on a
variety of subjects). Active class participation is essential to the organization of the course and students
will be assessed on the quality and frequency of contributions. I expect students to put effort into all
class activities, which will include debates, presentations and group projects.

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Who are the poor and why are they poor?                                                                 Section 2

Section 2

Who are the poor and why are they poor?

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Who are the poor and why are they poor?                                                                                   Section 2

Lesson 1. Poverty
James Yarsky

Begin with silent worship.

Introductions and explanations. This is an ethics course. If students think I‘m being too pig headed or
that I‘m not listening they should feel free to stop the class cold.

The Quality of Mercy from Shakespeare on board.

The quality of mercy is not strain’d.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown.
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings.
But mercy is above this sceptered sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings;
It is an attribute of God himself;
And earthly power doth then show like God’s
When mercy seasons justice

Why do we need to take a course on poverty? Poor people are not represented particularly well in history
books. More often than not, the writers of history are the one‘s who tend to benefit from what is
happening at any given time. Thus, I try to find sources that cover as many different points of view as
possible. Zinn‘s—Peoples History of the United States, Ehrenrich‘s—Nickle and Dimed (On not getting
by in America); Kozol‘s—Amazing Grace; Neelly‘s—Habits of the Heart; Miller‘s—The two percent
solution, Stud Terkell‘s—Working; and various essays by the likes of Cornell West, Ralph Nader, Noam
Chomsky, David Brookes, William Bennett, Jack Kemp and PJ O‘Rourke.

Often, History classes are full of stories of conquest and development, graft and robbery, power and
intimidation. I‘ll do my best to represent the folks who were overlooked for one reason or another
historically and otherwise. I‘ll also do everything I can to be fair in assessing the causes and solutions to
poverty here in the United States. We‘ll start with the working poor and move our way into dire poverty.
The class takes an undeniably depressing arc but I‘m confident that I can relate several examples of
pragmatic and faith based solutions to ease the burden on our nation‘s poor.

Next, I relate my experiences with poverty and homelessness. I have years of personal experience living
at or below the poverty line and I was homeless in New York City for a number of months. I still wrestle
with whether or not this is a good idea.

Afterward, each student relates to the class whether he or she has had any experience, or known anyone
who has been affected by poverty.

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Who are the poor and why are they poor?                                                                                   Section 2

Materials needed

My big mouth.

The hook/motivation
   Who are the poor and where do we get off talking about them?
   None of us are free until all of us are free – Martin Luther King.

Discovery & application

You can say anything and back it up with numbers; therefore, most of the initial material for the course
is testimonial. I use numbers from the census bureau and other government sources to explain the
economic dynamic of the problem but I tend to find stories that draw a picture of what the numbers
mean. I occasionally use charts and graphs to relate personal testimonies to data.


Think about whether or not you have what it takes to survive in what you perceive to be conditions of

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Who are the poor and why are they poor?                                                                                   Section 2

Lesson 2. Poverty
James Yarsky

Begin with silent worship.

What is the difference between socialism and capitalism? Communism and Democracy? Working
poor? Rich Dad, Poor Dad take on how to make money. Is our system un-American? Individualists
and federalists? We read excerpts from Habits of the Heart about Whinthrop, Jefferson, Franklin and
Whitman (highlighted).

The late mythologist Joseph Campbell was interviewed by Bill Moyers in the six-part video series
Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth. In the second video—(―Program Two: The Message of Myth.‖
Mystic Fire Video in association with Parabola: The Magazine of Myth and Tradition. Apostrophe S
Productions: 1990)—he says one can determine what a culture‘s pervading ideology is by looking at its
tallest buildings. In animistic cultures, the central structure was the shaman‘s dwelling. In Medieval
times, the tallest structure was the basilica, in Renaissance times it was the cathedral. Later, as the power
and influence of the church gave way to kings and rulers, the castle dominated the skyline. Now, in
Washington, no building can be higher than the Capital; but what buildings tower highest on the coastal
skyline most major cities in the US? Our highest buildings are about finance and media. Between the
World Trade Center, the Sears Tower, the US Steel Building and their like, our architecture largest
structures are symbolic of a culture that is transfixed on our economy. Further, from the top of many of
those structures, our cable networks pump the likes of MTV across their airwaves.
   What kind of a picture does that conjure of Western values?
   What are our idols?
   What else can you use to build a society?

David Vallins: Who are we to say that the products we produce aren‘t our art? Our culture? Is that such
a bad thing?

So, who‘s right? Is it Whinthrop and Jefferson? Franklin? Whitman? Does religion or philosophy
come into play? How?

According to MSNBC, the United States has organizations like Faith at Work who promote prayer in the
workplace. Thousands of these small prayer groups have been cultivated in law firms, investment banks,
etc. Business men and women pray for G-d‘s guidance in their daily business decision making meetings.
   What benefit could this have?

Next, we discuss faith-based initiatives that compete for government money in order to cope with the
problem of poverty and homelessness.
   Why bring religion into this? How do the secular organizations fare?

The hook/motivation

What does our culture value?

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Who are the poor and why are they poor?                                                                                Section 2


Read the excerpt (photocopied) from Barbara Ehrenrich’s “Nickel and Dimed (On Not Getting By
In America)”. Please note the context of this book—that Ms Ehrenrich is a writer/sociologist who
makes a good living in both of those fields. As a research assignment, she chose to live eighteen
months of her life working and surviving on minimum wage jobs. She used only the money she
earned from her minimum wage jobs for her bills and expenses. The book is a series of
journalistic essays based on her work in three different cities and jobs: Key West, Florida—
waitress; Portland, Maine—maid; and Minneapolis, Minnesota—retail.

Be prepared to discuss the excerpt for the next class.

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Who are the poor and why are they poor?                                                                                 Section 2

Lesson 3. Poverty
James Yarsky

Begin with silent worship.

I give a brief overview of Nickled and Dimed. What was it like to read about poverty from a rationale,
intelligent, experiential voice?
   What did you think of her language?
   Could you do what she did?
   Do you think the book is valuable?

We read from Studs Turkell‘s working. Excerpted in hard copy. Mike Lefevre.
   What do we think about Mike‘s idea to etch names in buildings? Do you understand what he‘s
    talking about?
   Why does he go and get into fights in bars? Fight Club?
   Were you surprised the Mike reads? Why?
   Mike talks about 20 hour work weeks. The reason we have to work 40 hours is because it keeps us
    down. Do you think he‘s being a whiner or lazy? He says we are consumed by our work and can‘t
    get our minds around anything else and that makes the powers that be happy. What do you think?
   How did you like Mike‘s comments about his children being imprints?

We discuss bootstrap mentality and laziness in poor neighborhoods. Refer back to Rich Dad, Poor Dad
thing about remote earnings.

The federal minimum wage is $5.15 per hour. (the rate varies from state to state)

Wal Mart is the largest employer in the United States and they don‘t even pay their workers enough to
afford food. In fact, they give them classes on how to acquire food stamps and Medicaid. That means
that taxpayers subsidize Wal Mart employees.
   What does that do to the workers?
   What does that mean to our capitalistic system?
   Some states are stopping WAL MART's from opening.
   Should this behavior be regulated?
   Should we increase the minimum wage?
   What else can be done?
   Who‘s problem is this?

What is a living wage? How does a living wage help/hurt our economy?

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Who are the poor and why are they poor?                                                                                                 Section 2

Lesson 4. Poverty
James Yarsky

Begin with silent worship.

Measuring poverty.

In 2004, 37.0 million people were in poverty, up 1.1 million from 2003.

We look at the United States Government Census Bureau‘s poverty guidelines and I discuss the money
in real terms. How do we measure poverty? I explain the government‘s measurement of the poverty
line? Is it outdated to use food costs as a measurement when the rents are so high? What is the monetary
breakdown? We discuss, in real terms, what $9,645 means to a single person for a year (two persons -
$12,334). Is that number realistic? Is it cruel? What do the students think of the way we measure

The following table is a estimated breakdown for a single New York resident living at the poverty line.

                                                         Bare minimums

Based on $9,645 broken down evenly over a one month period                                                             Real dollars
Rent (included utilities)
Studio or 1 bedroom ($820 from private listing, $700 (posted) plus a finder’s fee for realtor)                              $820.00
      Originally, (3 years ago)                                                                                               675.00
      % total by getting roommate                                                                                             410.00
Furnished rooms (Port Washington $1,000)*                                                                                        –
Phone (Lowest possible bill Verizon)                                                                                            38.00
Transportation (Buses only, to and from work, five days)                                                                        60.00
Food (based on 16% of income, Federal government)                                                                             122.85
Toiletries (toilet paper, soap, toothpaste, razors)                                                                             10.00
Clothes (minimum)                                                                                                               20.00
Total spent (single no room-mate)                                                                                         $1,070.85
Total spent (single with room-mate)                                                                                         $660.35
Total income                                                                                                                $803.75
* Source: Newsday (September 3, 2002)

What ifs
   What if your roommate is unreliable?
   What if you get sick?
   What if you get fired (how many days of work can you safely miss?)
   What if you need more than a bus to get to work?
   What if you need to buy a uniform?
   What if your boss holds your first weeks salary?

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Who are the poor and why are they poor?                                                                                Section 2

We discuss the Company Store as a symbolic answer as to how local food stores jack prices up at food
stamp and welfare check time.

Are credit cards the modern day equivalent of the Company Store? Explain interest rates and how
people get caught up in debt. Are people who get caught up in credit card debt stupid? Why are their so
many of them?

What is the difference between good debt and bad debt?

Are there intelligent people living below the poverty line? What is stopping them from realizing the
American dream?

The hook/motivation

What role does intelligence play in poverty?

Discovery & application

Can anyone become poor?


Write a two page essay about a great lack in your life — something that money can’t fix. What
was it you wanted? Why couldn’t money fix it? How did it make you feel that you couldn’t get
what you wanted. Do you see any connections between that and the context of this class.


Look around and find something you own that is expensive. It should be something that is
important to you. At $5.15 per hour, how long would it take you to earn enough money to buy that
item? Imagine that the job is nasty and that you have to pay $800 (rent and bills) + $120 (food)
each month. Would you still want the item? Write a two page essay about your process and

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Who are the poor and why are they poor?                                                                                  Section 2

Lesson 5. Poverty
James Yarsky

What is welfare? Where did it come from?

What is Welfare Reform? Why did President Clinton(D) sign that bill into law in 1996?

We discuss the initial design of welfare. It was created to give people a cushion so they could improve
their lives. If folks lost their jobs they‘d sign up for welfare. The government subsidized their efforts in
improving their lives. People would go to school (trade, high school, college), and collect welfare
checks to keep their heads above water. When they finished their training, they would go to work and be
part of a new tax base. Welfare was meant to be a temporary subsidy.

Workfare is not a bad idea, neither is welfare but what must be done with the people who take advantage
of it? Why would someone give up? How do you offer hope to a person who is on welfare? Can money
solve that problem? Religion?

The question is why would anyone want to stay on welfare? We use the Nickled and Dimed reading as a
base for the argument of staying home: not enough money, too many hours, no day care, no way to
climb the ladder, no health care (trade off from Medicaid). If you stay at home with your kids, you have
medical and groceries. This conversation leads us to…

…breakdown of the family. Why would anyone in their right mind have children while languishing in
poverty? (I relate my story: Why ------------would my first wife and I have a child when I was the only
one working. I wasn‘t making a lot of money. We lived in an efficiency apartment in Brooklyn, etc.
Where did we get off having a child? Remember – the worst did happen. My first wife and I broke up.
My daughter became the child of a single father. The two of us struggled for years.) We relate this to
other people who are living in poverty who have children.
   There are 5.7 million Americans receiving welfare benefits
   Nearly 37 million American children live in poverty.
   The effects of poverty take the lives of 27 children every day in the US.
   Families with children make up about 40% of the people who become homeless.
   Children account for 25% of the homeless population.
   50% of people who become poor each year are children.
   Since 1975, the child poverty rate has increased by over 40%.
   12 million American children have no health insurance and millions of others have inadequate
   The National Center for Health Statistics found that poor children were 3.6 times more likely than
    more affluent children to have fair or poor health.
   Poor children are 2 times more likely to die from birth defects and 5 times more likely to die from
    infectious diseases.
   14 million American children (30%) are hungry or at risk of hunger.

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Who are the poor and why are they poor?                                                                                  Section 2

   Due to cuts in programs for low-income children, 1.1 million additional children are being pushed
    into poverty or deeper into poverty.
   Child poverty can be alleviated for $45 billion. This is less than the amount of money given in annual
    tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans during the 1980's and 1990's.
   $1 spent on childhood immunization saves $10 in later health costs.

What is the difference between a guy and a man? Is that a good place to start a moral argument? Is the
Man Show a good example of the behavior of guys? Does Sex and the City accurately portray the ideals
of women and sex? Can anything be done about this? What? Does this behavior lead to the downfall of

How many problems in society can be attributed to ―guy‖ behavior? Is this fair? What is the role of the
woman? What can be done on a small scale regarding this issue? What can be done on a large scale?

What about the men who bail? (Use Angela’s Ashes and Amazing Grace readings about children in

Reading from Angela’s Ashes.

Materials needed

Angela’s Ashes

The hook/motivation

What happens to kids on welfare?

Discovery & application

Students responded so beautifully to this lesson. Reasons for having kids: more welfare money, looking
for any kind of normalcy, they want to have a family. Everyone wants to have a family. Gay people
want to have children. There is a normal drive to want a family – to pursue happiness. If we‘re going to
assume that poor people have the same wants and desires as people with money then we have to assume
that poor people want families. And that is something that they can achieve without money.

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Who are the poor and why are they poor?                                                                                   Section 2

Lesson 6. Poverty
James Yarsky

Begin with silent worship.

Corporate Welfare. We discuss corporate welfare, inflated salaries and bonuses to executives who run
companies. Energy bill subsidies…Why are we helping them do their business? Is that capitalism?
How do these things affect lay-off situations? Should the executives care? Is it moral to pay an
executive an exorbitant salary and complain about how the workers salaries are bringing the company

Is the fact that many CEOs make over 1,000 times the median income of their company good business?
What happens to the fabric of the company if the highest of the high ups are making an that much more
than everyone else? How can we assign something that much value? Are baseball players worth the
amount of money we pay them? CEOs? Doctors? Lawyers? It seems that the compensation is about
the number of people affected by your work.

When company‘s start faltering under high paid CEO, do they feel like they have to cook their books?
Do they feel pressure to keep their CEOs and thus, pretend they‘re making more money than they are?
What happens in the end to some of those companies?

Many decades ago very clever lawyers enhanced a breed of psychopathic entities, known as
"corporations". This entity which is actually a legal person under law, exists to make money, and
expand and make more money. Little or no conscience. – The Corporation

Tell the Charlie Sanford/Frank Newman story.

Nader. Why did he have to write Unsafe at any Speed? Talk about Bridgestone/Firestone and Ford
thinking it was more cost efficient to let people get into accidents, settle lawsuits rather than do a recall.
Ford spokesman pats himself of back after they‘re busted.

Compare Linux, Google (Don't be evil).

What about companies who aren‘t evil? How can a company be profitable, competitive and fair to its
workers, management, stockholders and the general public.

Next, we read from Eat the Rich, PJ O‘Rourke.

What did we think about Eat the Rich? Good points? Free market being moral, etc. I have several
problems with his argument namely, hardworking, educated people are losing their jobs by the score.
Free, unregulated markets often pollute, and take advantage of their workers (all in the name of money?)
I need a better argument. I like the bootstrap mentality but regulations are a fact of life.

Do we accept O‘Rourke‘s argument that fairness shouldn‘t matter in business? Why then, do we insist
that our children play fair? Treat one another kindly? Only to grow up and rip off an idea so you can get

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Who are the poor and why are they poor?                                                                                Section 2

rich? Is that a good foundation for a society? We talk about ADM and its price fixing scandal. What
would have happened to them had there been no FBI, SEC, etc.?

I like O‘Rourke but he‘s awfully cocky about a very young country and its moral, business and political
ethos. I get the whole 10th commandment thing and the idea of curtailing our fear of wealth so that we
can appreciate what it can offer us more but I think the fairness issue is not up for grabs.

Can you measure the success of a culture based on the amount of stuff it consumes?

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Who are the poor and why are they poor?                                                                                 Section 2

Lesson 7. Poverty
James Yarsky

Begin with silent worship.

Based on several scholarly studies, family life plays a huge role in the success or demise of a human
being. What happens when the very fabric of the family is torn up? We watch The Vanishing Black
Family. Why are those folks behaving like that? In what way is teenage pregnancy and single
parenthood a good thing? How is it awful? We talk about Monique‘s reaction to that film.

What is the role of the male? I relate my experience as a single dad as compared to a married dad. Dan
and Connie Large‘s story (babysitting).

What is the role of the family? How do we value the family? What is the dad in pop culture? The
Mom? Kids? Is family life valued in our society? Do we eat together as a family, etc.?

Societal Solutions

We talk about schools that make at-risk teens carry around real life dolls to see how they‘d handle being

Can we legislate family values? What are covenant marriages?

By Senators Bailey, Adams, and Windom
RFD Judiciary
Rd 1 11-MAR-1998

SYNOPSIS:Under existing law, all marriages in Alabama may be dissolved unilaterally by either party
on the grounds of incompatibility of temperament or irretrievable breakdown and the fact that one party
is willing or desirous of continuing the marriage does not prevent the granting of a divorce on these
grounds. This bill would allow couples who desire stronger legal protections of the marriage bond to
enter into a covenant marriage agreement which would eliminate the traditional no-fault grounds for
divorce. A license for a covenant marriage would require a signed covenant marriage agreement and
proof of pre-marital counseling. This bill would provide for marriages existing at the time this bill
becomes effective to be declared covenant marriages at the request of the married couple. This bill
would outline the causes upon which a covenant marriage may be legally terminated and would
establish requirements relating to covenant marriage. This bill would require the Office of the Attorney
General to promulgate an informational pamphlet describing the requirements of a covenant marriage
and would require that certain forms be used for marriage license applications, marriage licenses, and
marriage certificates.

By Representative Guin
RFD Judiciary
Rd 1 13-JAN-1998

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Who are the poor and why are they poor?                                                                                 Section 2

SYNOPSIS: Under existing law, there is only one type of marriage and the only requirement for
obtaining a marriage license is proof of age. This bill would create a second type of marriage, called a
covenant marriage. A license for a covenant marriage would require a declaration of intent and proof of
pre-marital counseling. This bill would provide for marriages existing at the time this bill becomes
effective to be declared covenant marriages at the request of the married couple. This bill would outline
the causes upon which a covenant marriage may be legally terminated. This bill would require the Office
of the Attorney General to promulgate an informational pamphlet describing the requirements of a
covenant marriage.

Are bills like the covenant marriage law from Alabama (above) useful or practical? What kinds of bills
would you propose to strengthen family values? Or, why is it impossible to legislate stronger families?

Materials needed

The Vanishing Black Family by Bill Moyers.


Write a two page essay about how we might try and legislate family values. If you were a
lawmaker, what would you do to instill stronger families, help to curtail teenage pregnancy or
encourage a more stable family dynamic.

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Who are the poor and why are they poor?                                                                                  Section 2

Lesson 8. Poverty
James Yarsky

Begin with silent worship.

What can you tell me about your local 7-11 at 7am in the morning? Who is there? Why are they there?
Who is hiring these men?

What about immigration? Is immigration is a by-product of our country‘s never-ending search for cheap
labor? We send jobs to third world countries (first manufacturing now information) and we complain
that our market based economy is lagging. Are illegal immigrants who come here for the same reasons
as our forefathers sucking our economy dry by not paying taxes and insurance or are they assisting our
economy by creating children that will eventually become better earning, tax payers?

Are our immigration laws xenophobic? Should we allow illegal immigrants to do the jobs legal
Americans don‘t want? Are the Illegals serving a purpose by offering cheap labor to carpenters,
plumbers, etc.?

―Give me your poor, your tired your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.‖ What kind of country
invites the poor, tired and huddled masses? What do we do with them? Why afterward, do we often
vilify them? How does a collection of huddled masses create a civilization?

Are Americans willing to spend more money on their stuff so cheap labor gets paid a decent amount of

What is the difference between someone who works and makes it out and one who works and doesn‘t
make it out? How did the early immigrants get out? Luck, etc.?

I tell stories about working with immigrants and ask for stories from the students.

ASIDE: Why are conservatives suspicious of government economic regulation but not warfare? Why
does their fear and distrust of government go away when lives are at stake?

Materials needed

The questions above will suffice

The hook/motivation

What role does immigration play in today‘s market economy?

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Who are the poor and why are they poor?                                                                                 Section 2

Lesson 9. Poverty
James Yarsky

Begin with silent worship.

Hurricane Katrina

Pew Trust Pole: 66% of black people think the federal government let the poor black people in the Gulf
suffer on purpose. 77% of white people think the federal government did their best for everyone. How
do disasters show economic disparity?

Actual breakdown.

[In his latest speech, John Edwards] mentioned that the typical white family has about $80,000 in assets,
while the typical Hispanic family has about $8,000, and the typical African-American family has about
$6,000. That's an astonishing gap. – David Brooks

Does that number say it all? What can be done about a situation in which the income and asset gap is
that profound?

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Who are the poor and why are they poor?                                                                                 Section 2

The actual breakdown of whites and non-whites in America is White: 77%, Non-white: 23%.

The following is a list of colleges and non-white student breakdown.

College                                      White students                                       Non-white
NYU                                                92%                                                   8%
Amherst                                            85%                                                 15%
RPI                                                78%                                                 22%
Havorford                                          76%                                                 24%
Northwestern                                       73%                                                 27%
Cornell                                            73%                                                 27%
Brown                                              72%                                                 28%
Princeton                                          71%                                                 29%
Tufts                                              71%                                                 29%
Duke                                               70%                                                 30%
UPenn                                              70%                                                 30%
Temple                                             70%                                                 30%
Dartmouth                                          68%                                                 32%
Swarthmore                                         68%                                                 32%
MIT                                                53%                                                 47%

Racism and the new deal.

From Rick Burns documentary on New York. During the new deal, the US government (for the first
time) was investing huge amounts of capital into the infrastructure and recreational structures of the
country. During the time of Robert Moses and Mayor LaGuardia, 250 parks were either built or
renovated in New York City. Of those 250, 2 were in neighborhoods predominantly made up of black

The Federal Savings and Loan started going into neighborhoods to red line. They looked for blocks
where black and Latino people lived. They would red line those blocks and then tell the banks to
financially cordon off those areas for black people and Latinos. They did. In the late twenties black
people and Latinos were the least racially segregated people in New York. 20 years later they were the
most. If you were a white person and you lived on a block that had just one black person living on it, the
bank decided that you lived in a black neighborhood and deemed your house less valuable. Eventually,
the banks would only sell to black or Latino people for those red lined neighborhoods thereby isolating
the black and Latino populations.

In the coming decades landlords starting burning down buildings rather than deal with falling real estate
prices. They burned so many buildings in the South Bronx in the 60s and 70s that it became an every
day event. After a while, the South Bronx looked like a bomb hit.

And what about real estate agents today who tell black and Latino people, ―I have just the house for
you.‖ and they promptly lead them to a poor, Latino neighborhood. Is that legal red lining? Why don‘t
we take white people to black neighborhoods to look at houses? or visa versa.

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Who are the poor and why are they poor?                                                                                  Section 2

―You know how your government feels about you when you‘re treated this way.‖ – from documentary

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore-
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over-
Like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
Like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Langston Hughes

What are the students perceptions of Harlem? Have they ever been? Have they ever walked through?

Stereotypically speaking, are wealthy white people more afraid of people who are not white or people
who are poor?

What is white trash?

Clarence Page

Essayist Clarence Page talks about the ramifications of using the term "acting white" and about taking
personal responsibility.

CLARENCE PAGE: In African American folklore, the sea crab ranks among the dumbest of creatures
who also offers a valuable lesson. When you catch a bucket or a basketful, you never have to put a lid on
because when one of the creatures tries to get out, the others will just pull it back in. Some of our fellow
human beings aren't much smarter than that. When they see you working hard to achieve your dreams,
they'll make fun of you just for trying.

With friends like those, my parents used to say, you don't need enemies. And black people have enough
enemies. That message has come back to me a lot lately, like during the Democratic National
Convention, when Senate candidate Barack Obama, the keynote speaker from Illinois, talked about what
people need to do to help themselves.

BARACK OBAMA: Go into any inner city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone
can't teach our kids to learn. They know that parents have to teach, that children can't achieve unless we
raise their expectations and turn off the television set and eradicate the slander that says a black youth
with a book is acting white.

CLARENCE PAGE: Yes, today's hip- hop generation has basket crabs of its own, eager to put you down
for somehow acting white when you try to get ahead, as if blackness means you have to fail. Obama, the
son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas, has a more positive view of
blackness. He wants the rest of us to pass that message on to our kids.

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Who are the poor and why are they poor?                                                                                 Section 2

BILL COSBY: There is a time, ladies and gentlemen, when we have to turn the mirror around.

CLARENCE PAGE: So does Bill Cosby. Now 67 and deep in his anecdotage, Dr. Cosby has made a
new name for himself as a sometimes politically incorrect prophet of black self-improvement.

BILL COSBY: It is almost analgesic to talk about what the white man is doing against us (Applause) and
it keeps... it keeps a person frozen in their seat.

CLARENCE PAGE: Cosby and wife Camille have contributed millions of their dollars to educational
causes. Yet some people were offended when Cosby said some of the lower economic classes are not
holding up their end of this deal. Some people thought he was blaming the victim and washing dirty
black community laundry in public, as if our enemies did not already know what was going on.

ACTOR "Barbershop": You all come on around here and learn something.

CLARENCE PAGE: Reporter: I think Cosby understands that the first step to self-improvement is self-
criticism. As the movie "Barbershop" illustrated, there was nothing in Cosby's comments that black
community elders have not been telling us for generations.

ACTOR: But the problem with you all today is that you got no skill, no sense of history and then, with a
straight face, got the nerve to want to be somebody.

CLARENCE PAGE: Cosby was saying the same thing back in the late '60s when I interviewed him for
my college newspaper, back when both of us had a lot more hair. It was the era of big afros and black
power, black panthers, and big revolutionary rhetoric. But Cosby didn't want to talk about that. He
wanted to talk about how we young black students needed to work hard and take advantage of the hard-
won opportunities that civil rights victories were opening up to us as keepers of the dream.

At the time I was disappointed. Like the rest of my generation, I was trying to find myself in the
romantic ideologies of that era. Today I see his bootstrap wisdom through new eyes, the eyes of a parent.
Forty years have passed since the Civil Rights Act. We now have black leaders in all walks of American
life. Yet surprising academic achievement gaps persist along racial and ethnic lines, even for students in
upper-income families.

In fact, prominent black professors, Henry Louis Gates and Lani Guinier recently observed that more
black undergraduates at Harvard come from immigrant families than from families descended from
American slavery. Many other selective universities could say the same. Black immigrants from Africa,
the West Indies, and elsewhere seem to be too busy pursuing American opportunities to waste time
worrying about whether or not they are "acting black."

Some people badmouth successful immigrants, trying to pull them back down the way crabs do. But the
immigrants' relentless optimism offers the rest of us a valuable lesson: The dream of equal opportunity is
as old as the American dream. But as Bill Cosby reminds us, our own self-defeating attitudes can take us
out of the race before we even start. No joke. I'm Clarence Page.

Materials needed

New York – Rick Burns, Collected Poems – Langston Hughes,

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Who are the poor and why are they poor?                                                                                  Section 2

White privilege

What is white privilege? How can white people talk about things like white privilege and not feel
queasy? (I explain the idea of solemn witness to explain how a person might start a discussion about
race without fear). We read from The Cornell West Reader (pgs. 251).

Former Treasury Secretary, now president of Harvard University, Lawrence Summers says economic
disparity is affecting attendance at U.S. colleges and universities. To address the issue, Harvard has
begun a new initiative to cover tuition for lower-income students. He said that in his studies that the best
students from poor neighborhoods are less likely to attend college than the worst students in the richest
neighborhoods. Socio-economic diversity is an extremely valuable tool in universities like Harvard.
The benefits are obvious for the poor students – what are the benefits for the poor students?

We talk about Alice Walker‘s interview with Charlie Rose in which she spoke about the impact of her
skin color on major aspects of her life. ―Look at me. I‘m a black woman. We can‘t be the same, Charlie
Rose. White people want to know why we can‘t all be one, but one usually means ‗White‘. They want
black people to be white.‖ Is this because we don‘t think about our skin color in the same manner as
black people?

Affirmative Action

At one time or another, every successful business person gets where they are through connections. You
can be smart, industrious and hard working but someone has to be willing to give you a shot, write a
recommendation or make a call and ask for a favor on your behalf. At one time or another, every
successful business person gets hired, an internship or into college for some reason that has nothing to do
with merit – someone gets you the interview, makes a call, knows your Uncle Herman or Uncle Herman
is an alumni, you come from the right part of the country, you are good at sports, you are a woman, you
are a person of color or you are the religion they need to make the class more diverse.

Affirmative action is simply legislated connections. The difference between white people and many
people of color is that most white people don‘t even think about using or benefiting from the
connections. It is assumed that you use those connections and further assumed that you deserve to use
them. And most white people don‘t think using these connections or advantages makes them less
qualified for the job. Its just ―getting their foot in the door‖. ―Get my foot in the door and I can do the
job‖. I believe most white people are so used to benefiting from these connections they are not even
aware that they have these advantages. They don‘t see them. That‘s why some white people think
affirmative action is unfair because they don‘t see the advantages they have themselves. They are blind
to them.

I‘ve heard some people make the argument that affirmative action is benefiting middle class and upper
middle class black people who ―don‘t need it‖ and bypassing poor blacks who clearly do. I say middle
class black people still need affirmative action. Just look at our government and the Fortune 500
companies. They must be at least 95% white and male. So there‘s more work to do.

But I do think there is no real program to reach out to people who are economically disadvantage; maybe
because we like to think America is classless society. In any case, we rarely look at that at all.

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Who are the poor and why are they poor?                                                                                  Section 2


Former Treasury Secretary, now president of Harvard University, Lawrence Summers says economic
disparity is affecting attendance at U.S. colleges and universities. To address the issue, Harvard has
begun a new initiative to cover tuition for lower-income students. He said that in his studies that the
best students from poor neighborhoods are less likely to attend college than the worst students in
the richest neighborhoods. Socio-economic diversity is an extremely valuable tool in universities like
Harvard. The benefits are obvious for the poor students – what are the benefits for the poor students?

Discovery & application

What is the legacy of white privilege? How did the banks orchestrate segregated neighborhoods? How
did the government treat those neighborhoods? This is not that long ago. I remember it.

Individual student goals

I‘m looking for students to make connections between individual process and an avalanche of odds
stacked against people in poverty.


Read the following article. Do you think Canada’s solution is the solution?

The Harlem Project


Back in 1990, Geoffrey Canada was just your average do-gooder. That year, he became the president of
a nonprofit charitable organization based in Harlem called the Rheedlen Centers for Children and
Families, and he set out trying to improve the world, one poor child at a time. It was a bad moment to be
poor in New York City. Harlem, especially, was suffering under the simultaneous plagues of crack
cocaine, cheap guns and rampant homelessness, and Canada's main goal at Rheedlen, in those years, was
to keep the children in his programs alive. The organization had an annual budget of $3 million, which it
spent on a predictable array of services in Upper Manhattan: after-school programs, truancy prevention,
anti-violence training for teenagers. The programs seemed to do a lot of good for the children who were
enrolled in them, at least in part because of Canada's own level of devotion. He was obsessed with his
job, personally invested in the lives of the children he was helping and devastated when they ended up in
prison or on drugs or shot dead on the street.

But after he ran these programs for a few years, day in and day out, his ideas about poverty started to
change. The catalyst was surprisingly simple: a waiting list. One Rheedlen after-school program had
more children who wanted to enroll than it was able to admit. So Canada chose the obvious remedy: he
drew up a waiting list, and it quickly filled with the names of children who needed his help and couldn't
get it. That bothered him, and it kept bothering him, and before long it had him thinking differently about
his entire organization. Sure, the 500 children who were lucky enough to be participating in one of his
programs were getting help, but why those 500 and not the 500 on the waiting list? Or why not another
500 altogether? For that matter, why 500 and not 5,000? If all he was doing was picking some kids to
save and letting the rest fail, what was the point?

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Who are the poor and why are they poor?                                                                                 Section 2

At around the same time, he was invited by Marian Wright Edelman, the president of the Children's
Defense Fund, to join a group she had recently founded called the Black Community Crusade for
Children. Once a year, she brought together two dozen leaders from across the country who were trying
to solve the problems of poor black children. They met down at a farm in Tennessee that had once been
owned by Alex Haley, the author of ''Roots,'' and they spent a few days comparing notes on the crisis in
America's poor neighborhoods. For Canada, the good news at these discussions was that he wasn't alone
-- but that was the bad news, too. All across the country, in big cities and in small towns, well-meaning
nonprofits were finding the same thing: they were helping a few kids, getting them out of the ghettos and
off the streets and sometimes even into college, but for the masses of poor children, and especially those
who were black, nothing was changing; those children were still falling behind in school, scoring below
average on reading tests and staying poor.

Most of the men and women who were meeting in Tennessee were from Canada's generation -- he is 52 -
- and they had come of age in the hopeful period following the passage of the Civil Rights Act, when
things seemed as if they were about to improve for poor black Americans. But as Edelman convened her
group, life in the ghettos was getting worse, not better. To Canada, it felt as if he and his peers were
losing more children more quickly than they had ever lost before. For the first time, he felt a sense of
hopelessness, and he found himself thinking that the kids he was seeing in kindergarten in Harlem were
already doomed, destined to spend the rest of their lives stuck at the bottom.

Canada knew there were success stories out there. There were always reports in the newspapers about
''special'' kids who ''overcame the odds.'' Some brilliant teacher or charity or millionaire went into the
ghetto and found 100 kids and educated them and turned their lives around. But those stories seemed
counterproductive to Canada. Instead of helping some kids beat the odds, he thought, why don't we just
change the odds? When he looked around, though, he couldn't find anyone who knew how to do that.
Experts in his field had figured out how to educate one disadvantaged child, or one classroom full of
kids, but the benefits were localized, and usually temporary. And no one had any idea how to change a
whole school system or a whole housing project, or for that matter a whole neighborhood. So, in the
middle of the 1990's, that's what Geoffrey Canada decided he would do. And now, 10 years later, he has
become a very different kind of do-gooder, one with a mission both radically ambitious and startlingly
simple. He wants to prove that poor children, and especially poor black children, can succeed -- that is,
achieve good reading scores, good grades and good graduation rates -- and not just the smartest or the
most motivated or the ones with the most attentive parents, but all of them, in big numbers. Three years
ago, he chose as his laboratory a 24-block zone of central Harlem, now expanded to 60 blocks -- an area
with about 6,500 children, more than 60 percent of whom live below the poverty line and three-quarters
of whom score below grade level on statewide reading and math tests -- and he named it the Harlem
Children's Zone.

After welfare reform passed in 1996, the national debate on poverty seemed simply to shut down. Most
conservatives explain poverty by looking to culture and behavior: bad parenting, high out-of-wedlock
birth rates, teenagers who don't know the value of an honest day's work. To most liberals, the real
problems are economic: underfinanced public schools and a dearth of well-paying semiskilled jobs,
which make it nearly impossible for families to pull themselves out of poverty. Canada says he believes
that both assumptions are true. He agrees that the economy is stacked against poor people no matter how
hard they work, but he also thinks that poor parents aren't doing a good enough job of rearing their
children. What makes Canada's project unique is that it addresses both problems at once. He keeps the
liberals happy by pouring money into schools and day-care centers and after-school programs, and he
satisfies the conservatives by directly taking on the problems of inadequate parenting and the cultural
disadvantages of a ghetto home life. It's not just that he's trying to work both sides of the ideological

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Who are the poor and why are they poor?                                                                                  Section 2

street. It's that Canada has concluded that neither approach has a chance of working alone. Fix the
schools without fixing the families and the community, and children will fail; but they will also fail if
you improve the surrounding community without fixing the schools.

Canada's new program combines educational, social and medical services. It starts at birth and follows
children to college. It meshes those services into an interlocking web, and then it drops that web over an
entire neighborhood. It operates on the principle that each child will do better if all the children around
him are doing better. So instead of waiting for residents to find out about the services on their own, the
organization's recruiters go door-to-door to find participants, sometimes offering prizes and raffles and
free groceries to parents who enroll their children in the group's programs. What results is a remarkable
level of ''market penetration,'' as the organization describes it. Eighty-eight percent of the roughly 3,400
children under 18 in the 24-block core neighborhood are already served by at least one program, and this
year Canada began to extend his programs to the larger 60-block zone. The objective is to create a safety
net woven so tightly that children in the neighborhood just can't slip through.

At a moment when each new attempt to solve the problem of poverty seems to fall apart, one after the
next, what is going on in central Harlem is one of the biggest social experiments of our time. Social
scientists and poverty advocates are watching carefully to see if Canada can pull it off. Many are
skeptical; they have seen too many ambitious anti-poverty programs collapse because of budget overruns
or administrative hubris, and Canada acknowledges that his work has just begun. But the sheer scale of
Canada's project has created a palpable excitement among foundation officials, poverty scholars and
business leaders. Marian Wright Edelman said that though there are a few other good neighborhood-
based programs around the country, ''none are as comprehensive as the Harlem Children's Zone, and
none of them hold as much promise.''

David Saltzman, executive director of the Robin Hood Foundation, concurred: ''If it works, it'll be the
best thing that's happened in a long time. Man, if Geoff can make this thing work, it's huge.''

The programs that the Harlem Children's Zone offers all seem carefully planned and well run, but none
of them, on their own, are particularly revolutionary. It is only when they are considered together, as a
network, that they seem so new. The organization employs more than 650 people in more than 20
programs; on a recent afternoon, I spent some time walking around Harlem, dropping in on one program
after another. At Harlem Gems, a program for 40 prekindergarten students at a public school on 118th
Street, Keith, who had just turned 5 and was missing a front tooth, sat at a computer working away at
''Hooked on Phonics,'' while Luis, a 19-year-old tutor, gave him one-on-one instruction. A few blocks up
Lenox Avenue, at the Employment and Technology Center, 30 teenagers in T-shirts and basketball
jerseys, all part of the organization's new investment club, were gathered around a conference table,
listening to an executive from Lehman Brothers explain the difference between the Dow Jones and the
Nasdaq. At P.S. 76 on West 121st Street, fifth-grade students in an after-school program were standing
in front of their peers, reading aloud the autobiographies they had written that afternoon. And over at
Truce, the after-school center for teenagers, a tutor named Carl was helping Trevis, a student in the
eighth grade, with a research project for his social studies class, an eight-page paper on the life of
Frederick Douglass. In a nearby housing project, a counselor from the Family Support Center was paying
a home visit to a woman who had just been granted legal custody of her two grandchildren; in other
apartments in the neighborhood, outreach workers from Baby College, a class for new parents, were
making home visits of their own, helping teach better parenting techniques. A few blocks away, at the
corner of Madison Avenue and 125th Street, construction was under way on the organization's new
headquarters, a six-story, $44 million building that will also house the Promise Academy, a new charter
school that Canada is opening in the fall.

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Who are the poor and why are they poor?                                                                                    Section 2

While the new building is going up, Canada works on Park Avenue between 130th Street and 131st
Street, in a small office in a six-story building that always seems to be under renovation. When I visited
him on an icy afternoon in February, the radiator in his office was hissing constantly; when the room got
too hot, Canada propped his window open with a book about community revitalization. That cooled
things off, but it also created a new distraction. Directly outside Canada's second-floor window, no more
than 20 feet away, are the elevated tracks that carry every Metro-North train heading out of Grand
Central Terminal toward Connecticut and Westchester County. Each time a train passed, full of
commuters on their way back to the suburbs, a rumbling filled the room, and Canada leaned a little
closer so that I could make out what he was saying.

He is a tall, lean, athletic man with rounded shoulders and long limbs, and on this afternoon he was
wearing a dark suit and a light blue shirt with his monogram sewn over the breast pocket. His graying
hair was cropped close to his scalp. His office is spare -- a desk with a phone and a computer and a few
piles of mail. There's a coat rack for his suit jacket, a bookshelf and a small round table with four chairs
where he holds meetings. On his desk is a big picture of his 5-year-old son, Geoffrey Jr., from his second
marriage. On the wall behind his desk are photographs -- Canada with President Clinton, Canada with
Mayor Bloomberg -- as well as a portrait of a dozen or so of the young people he has trained in tae kwon
do, which he has been teaching two nights a week for 21 years. A framed citation on the opposite wall
certifies him as a third-degree black belt.

Although Canada likes to say that he is sick of against-the-odds success stories, he is one himself. He
grew up on Union Avenue in the South Bronx. His father left when he was 4, and his mother reared him
and his three brothers herself, sometimes supporting them with wages from menial jobs and sometimes
relying on welfare and food from local charities. In his memoir ''Fist Stick Knife Gun,'' Canada describes
the rituals and codes of violence that governed life for children like him, growing up in the inner city in
the 50's and 60's. As a teenager, he drank and fought and smoked pot and carried a knife, but he also
stayed in school, worked in a factory in the evenings and won a scholarship to Bowdoin College in
Maine, and from there went on to earn a degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Bowdoin doesn't have many black alumni, and so when a promising black high-school senior is applying
to the college from New York, the admissions office often sends the student to Canada for an alumni
interview. When I arrived at his office, Canada was firing questions at Julian, a 17-year-old from
Brooklyn who attends a magnet school. Canada made notes on a clipboard as Julian talked, answered a
few of his questions about Bowdoin and Maine and then shook his hand and showed him out.

''He's a good kid, and I think he'll be terrific at Bowdoin,'' Canada said as he sat back down. ''But he's not
my kid.'' Not a Harlem Children's Zone kid, he meant. ''He comes from a family, they've got it together,
his parents are both educators. That's not us. We want those other kids, the ones who don't have two
parents, whose parents haven't gone to college, who haven't got a chance statistically of making it.''

This distinction -- between children who are ''his kids'' and children who aren't -- is one that Canada
draws all the time, and it goes back a long way in his own personal history. In ''Fist Stick Knife Gun,''
published in 1995, he describes a summer night when he was 14. He and half a dozen friends were sitting
on someone's stoop drinking Rheingold when a car came screeching up and a man they didn't know got
out and challenged one of them to a fight. The fight started, and at first it went according to the rules of
Union Avenue, meaning no weapons and no one else gets involved. But then the stranger pulled out a
gun, which was almost unheard of in 1966. Canada was ready to run, but instead he and his friends
slowly converged on the older, bigger, better-armed man and scared him off the block through the

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strength of their numbers. What he learned that day, he wrote, was that he and his friends ''loved one
another enough to be willing to die.''

When Canada talks about ''my kids'' now, he means the 6,500 children who live in the Harlem Children's
Zone. But even more than that, he means the least successful children in the neighborhood. When he
talks about them, it feels personal, as if his real objective is to work with children just like the cold,
tough, frustrated boys he grew up with on Union Avenue, most of whom are now dead or in prison -- to
make amends for the past by saving Harlem's children today.

Still, Canada's approach to poverty is not sentimental. When he considers any given poor family living in
the Harlem Children's Zone, he divides their problems up in his mind into the ones he needs to solve and
the ones he doesn't need to solve. The ones he needs to solve are the ones that are keeping the child from
succeeding in school. Everything else, he has decided, he can leave alone. ''Do we think that it would be
better for our parents to be married?'' he said, tilting back in his chair. ''Absolutely. Why? Because two-
parent families have more income. Children tend to do better when they have two parents in the house.''
In fact, he knows that the great majority of births in Harlem are to single mothers and that most of the
parents whose children he serves are unmarried. ''But what ability do we have to make an impact on
that?'' he asked. ''None. Right? If we tried to do that, we'd spend all our time just doing that.''

Canada admitted that he is engaged in a kind of triage. He described for me an imaginary Harlem parent.
''You can be 20 years old, with a job that doesn't pay you enough money to survive on,'' he said. ''You're
underemployed. You've got a kid. The kid's not doing well in school. You've got no place for the kid to
be after school. Well, we'll provide services for that child. But we're not going to solve the problem of
you being underemployed. That's not going to go away.''

He is, in other words, sidestepping the macroeconomic solutions that some advocates insist are the only
way to solve the problem of poverty -- better wages, a national jobs program, a bigger earned-income tax
credit -- in favor of programs that in one way or another directly affect the performance of the
neighborhood's poor children.

Canada's educational philosophy emphasizes accountability and testing, and in that way it is similar to
the dominant idea in public education today. The doctrine of accountability -- the idea that if students do
poorly on standardized tests, schools should lose their financing and teachers should lose their jobs --
first emerged in the late 80's and early 90's in the Houston public schools. It then moved to the White
House as the basis of the No Child Left Behind law when Rod Paige, the superintendent of the Houston
schools, became the education secretary under George W. Bush. In the past year, though, news reports
and lawsuits have revealed that when schools are compelled to meet certain numbers -- graduation rates,
standardized-test scores -- their administrators often succumb to the urge to cheat. In Houston and New
York, principals have shoved troubled students out of school, often under an administrative sleight of
hand, in order to keep their schools' numbers artificially high. Canada has set the same rigorous goals for
his own organization, but for him, the urge is the opposite: not to push the worst kids aside, but to recruit
them even harder.

On this afternoon, Canada was worried about a set of internal statistics he had just uncovered: some of
his students seemed to be doing too well. Last fall, his organization started a new program in four
Harlem public schools called the Fifth Grade Institute, an after-school program for 160 fifth-grade
students designed to begin catching them up to grade level before the charter school opens in September.
Canada wanted to calculate how much the program was improving the reading ability of these students,
so he asked to see their scores on the previous year's citywide fourth-grade reading test for comparison.

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Reading scores in New York City public schools are delivered in four categories, the higher the better. A
4 means the child is reading above grade level; a 3 means the child is reading at grade level; a 2 means
below grade level; and a 1 means significantly below grade level. In most of the city, 2's and 3's
predominate, with some 4's thrown in. In schools in Harlem, though, about three-quarters of the students
score either a 1 or a 2; there are a few 3's, and 4's are rare.

But when Canada looked at the scores for the children in the Fifth Grade Institute, he found a lot of 3's --
more than a random sampling of Harlem students would have drawn. And on the day I visited, he was
worried that the process of recruiting students for the Fifth Grade Institute had somehow been selective.
He was sure it wasn't conscious on the part of his administrators, and, in fact, when he later received
more detailed scores, they seemed more in line with the neighborhood patterns. Still, it was only natural,
he knew, that parents who would bother to sign their children up for an ambitious after-school program
would tend to be the better-organized, better-educated ones, and so it wouldn't be surprising if their
children were better readers. Maybe his kids, the 1's and 2's, hadn't heard about the program, or maybe
their parents hadn't managed to get it together in time to sign them up.

Do what do you do? If you offer a new program, the best students will naturally enroll first, but you want
the worst students. How do you get those parents to apply? Sometimes, in Canada's experience, it
happens by accident. In 2001, the first year the Harlem Children's Zone offered Harlem Gems, its Head
Start-like program for 4-year-olds, the organizers were behind schedule and didn't manage to send out
fliers and start recruiting until August, just a few weeks before the program began. All the well-
organized parents had already made their child-care plans for the year, and the last-minute, overburdened
parents were the ones who signed up. That gave Canada the demographic he wanted, and he was able to
get concrete results. When the 4-year-olds started Harlem Gems in 2001, 53 percent were scoring
''delayed'' or ''very delayed'' on the Bracken Basic Concept Scale for school readiness. At the end of the
yearlong program, 26 percent were delayed.

In that case, the search for the most delayed kids worked because the organizers got lucky. Usually,
though, it involves a lot of knocking on doors. I went out one morning with two outreach workers,
Francesca Silfa and Mark Frazier, as they searched through central Harlem for new parents to enroll in
Baby College. They knocked on the door of every apartment in a 21-story building on 118th Street,
looking for parents with children under 4, leaving fliers under the doors if no one answered. They didn't
meet with any resistance or hostility, although they did get a few skeptical looks. Mostly the process
seemed slow and painstaking. Whenever they ran into Baby College graduates in the halls, they stopped
to chat, prodding them for suggestions of good candidates in the building or elsewhere on the block. In
addition to the door-to-door approach, recruiters visit laundromats, supermarkets and check-cashing
outlets to look for new mothers. On the day I was with them, Silfa approached one woman pushing a
stroller down 118th Street and managed to sign her and her daughter up on the spot.

For most parents, the attractions of a program like Baby College are obvious: useful information, the
relief of spending Saturday morning getting to know other mothers instead of being stuck in a cramped
apartment and free child care during class time. But if those aren't enough of a pull, there are raffles at
the end of each class for $50 Old Navy gift certificates and a big drawing at the end of the course in
which one parent wins a month's rent.

This combination of door-knocking, cajoling and offering incentives seems to work, and each nine-week
session of Baby College draws a class of more than 100 parents, all of whom receive weekly follow-up
visits at home. More than 95 percent of the parents -- 677 so far -- have successfully completed the
course. The real test of this approach, Canada said when we spoke in February, will come when the

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Promise Academy opens its doors. By law, the charter school will be open to students from anywhere in
the city's five boroughs, which means a lottery to choose the incoming classes from a broader pool of
applicants. But the only students Canada really wants in his school are the ones from central Harlem, and
especially the lowest-performing ones, exactly those whose parents, he said, are least inclined to apply to
send their children to a special school.

''I will make sure that every single poor-performing school and parent in Harlem knows about this
program,'' Canada said back in February. ''And if we don't get more 1's and 2's than 3's, then we haven't
done our job properly.'' What that will require, Canada said, is persistent recruiting. ''We're going to have
to go and force some of these parents to come and fill out the application,'' he said. Even once he finds
the 1's and 2's, he added, ''their parents may say no, which means we have to go back and figure out a
way to bribe them and get them to say yes. And I hate to put it like that, but that's what we'll end up
doing. We'll end up saying, 'If you get your kid to apply, you'll get free movie passes.'''

The point of all of this intensive recruiting is to amass evidence -- indisputable data that show exactly
what it will take to level the playing field and get poor children performing on the same level as the city's
middle-class children. ''If we just end up saving a bunch of kids in Harlem, that will be good for them,
but it won't mean an awful lot to me in the long run,'' Canada said. ''We want to be able to say that
thousands of poor children can learn at high levels and perform at rates that are the same as middle-class
children if they are given the opportunity to do so. But I want to be clear when I say we've got an answer
that we really have an answer.''

The answer that Canada wants to provide is in fact very much in demand. There are plenty of examples
of programs that didn't work: in 2000, for example, the Heinz Endowments abandoned as a failure a $59
million, five-year program to provide early-childhood care and education for 7,600 low-income children
in and around Pittsburgh. The program's costs soared, and four years in, when Heinz pulled the plug,
only 680 children were being served. What is most startling about the current study of poverty is how
little conclusive evidence there is about which cures do work. There are no more than a dozen studies in
the field that track how successful various interventions are over the long term, and the evidence from
those studies tends to be spotty and subject to debate.

To William Julius Wilson, the Harvard sociologist who is one of the country's leading thinkers on urban
poverty, this is precisely the significance of the Harlem Children's Zone. ''It is very, very important for
policy makers to be able to cite examples of how you can improve the life chances of disadvantaged
kids,'' he said. ''There are so many people who feel that whatever you do, it's not going to work. They
want to say, 'Well, there's just a culture of poverty out there, and you can't really change it.''' If Canada's
project is successful, though, Wilson said, it will ''provide the ammunition to policy makers who want to
do something to address the problems of poverty.'' It will allow them to say: ''Here are kids who would
ordinarily end up as permanent economic proletarians, and here is a program that has been able to
overcome the cumulative disadvantages of chronic subordination. So why not commit ourselves across
the nation to try to duplicate what he's done?''

Canada has a vivid picture in his mind of a judgment day to come -- 8, 10, 12 years down the road.
Children who are now entering the system as infants will be taking their third-grade citywide math and
reading tests, and they'll be scoring at or above grade level. Children who entered the system as Harlem
Gems will be graduating from high school -- he expects that 90 percent of his students will graduate on
time. It is only at that point, he explained, that he will be able to say to the rest of the country: ''This isn't
an abstract conversation anymore. If you want poor children to do as well as middle-class children'' -- not
necessarily to be superachievers but to become what he calls ''typical Americans,'' able to compete for

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jobs -- ''we now know how to do it.'' If he's right, the services he will provide will cost about $1,400 a
year per student, on top of existing public-school funds. The country will finally know, he said, what the
real price tag is for poor children to succeed.

Canada first came up with the idea for the Harlem Children's Zone in the mid-90's, but it wasn't until a
few years later that he was ready to propose it officially to the board of the Rheedlen Centers (as the
organization was then known). Crime had dropped sharply in Harlem, as it had everywhere in New York
City, and Canada was no longer overwhelmed by the daily anxiety of trying to prevent the children in his
programs from being killed. The national economy was booming, housing prices in the neighborhood
were climbing and the first signs of gentrification were appearing, but for children in Harlem, the
situation hadn't improved much. The unemployment rate there was still very high. (Even now, after the
arrival of new middle-class residents, it stands at 18.5 percent.) It was in this context that Canada went
before the Rheedlen board in 1998 and said that he wanted to remake the organization completely, to set
up a kind of project that had never been tried before.

Canada had recently brought on a new board member, a fellow Bowdoin alumnus named Stan
Druckenmiller, who, while running George Soros's Quantum Fund, became one of the most successful
hedge-fund managers in the history of the stock market, amassing a personal fortune estimated at more
than $1 billion. After Canada laid out his proposal to the board, Druckenmiller took him aside and told
him that in his opinion he had the right plan but the wrong board. Canada agreed, and the two men
politely deposed the chairman and replaced him with Druckenmiller, who set about raising money and
recruiting new board members from the higher echelons of Wall Street.

The organization now has a lot more money than it did a few years ago. Druckenmiller paid for about a
third of the cost of the new headquarters himself, and board members contribute about a third of the
annual operating budget. (The rest comes from foundations, the government and private donors.) In
April, the organization held a glittering fund-raising dinner at Cipriani 42nd Street, a cavernous former
bank building converted into a restaurant, and raised $2.8 million in a single night, mostly from bankers
and stockbrokers. (The 2003 fund-raiser, by comparison, pulled in $1.5 million.)

Financiers and C.E.O.'s are drawn to the Harlem Children's Zone not just because of its mission but also
because of the way it is run. In fact, the relationship the organization has with its donors is as unusual,
arguably, as the program itself. In the late 90's, Allen Grossman, then the president of Outward Bound
U.S.A. and now a management professor at the Harvard Business School, began studying the nonprofit
sector from a business perspective. It was a mess, he concluded: in an article in The Harvard Business
Review in 1997, he described a hopelessly dysfunctional relationship between foundations and nonprofit
organizations, in which foundations made short-term grants to pet projects, nonprofits spent all their time
chasing money and each side had a vested interest in maintaining the reassuring fiction that failing
programs were actually succeeding. Grossman proposed that philanthropists start thinking more like
venture capitalists: searching out nonprofits with innovative long-term ideas, financing them early,
insisting on transparency and frequent evaluation and nurturing them along the way with expert advice
and continuing infusions of capital.

One of the first foundations to take Grossman's ideas seriously was the Edna McConnell Clark
Foundation, which had been financing Rheedlen for years. In 1999, Nancy Roob, the foundation's grant
manager, approached Canada and offered him $250,000, plus the dedicated services of a new
management consultancy for nonprofits called the Bridgespan Group, to write a new business plan. This
was unheard of: when philanthropists give away a quarter of a million dollars, they generally want the
money to go directly to poor people, with as little overhead as possible. Clark, by contrast, was inviting

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Canada to spend the foundation's money -- first the $250,000, and eventually another $1 million --
entirely on overhead: on developing the business plan; creating a new, more hierarchical management
structure; buying new technology for an internal communication system; and constructing a rigorous and
continuing process of self-evaluation.

The business plan that Canada's team came up with proposed a steady increase in the annual budget over
nine years, from $6 million to $10 million to $46 million. (This year, four years in, it is $24 million.) The
plan reads more like a corporate strategy document than a charity prospectus. It refers to ''market-
penetration targets'' and ''new information technology applications,'' including a ''performance-tracking
system.'' In practice, too, the organization feels more like a business than a nonprofit, which offers
comforting visuals to donors: everyone at the headquarters wears a suit, every meeting starts on time and
there is a constant flow of evaluations, reports and budgets. ''Geoff could be a C.E.O. at any S.&P. 500
company,'' Druckenmiller said, and he meant it as a compliment.

uring the months I spent visiting Canada, the issue of education took up more and more of his time and
attention. When we first spoke, almost a year ago, he described all of the organization's programs -- an
initiative to combat asthma, an organizing campaign for tenants -- as equally important. But as the
months wore on, it seemed, all he could think about were the problems in the schools. He was pouring
more and more resources into Harlem's public schools, paying for in-class tutors and after-school reading
programs, and scores had barely budged. He was beginning to see it as a systemic problem, he said,
something that couldn't be solved by the kind of supplementary services he was offering. ''We've got to
really do something radically different if we're going to save these kids,'' he told me in the fall. ''If we
keep fooling around on the fringes, I know 10 years will go by, and instead of 75 percent of the kids in
Harlem scoring below grade level on their reading scores, maybe it will be 70 percent, or maybe it will
be 65 percent. People will say, 'Oh, we're making progress.' But that to me is not progress. This is much
more urgent than that.''

So at the same time that he has been working inside the school system with a greater intensity than
before, he has also begun to try to opt out of it, by establishing charter schools. Beginning in September,
the Harlem Children's Zone plans to start educating its own students at two locations. The Promise
Academy, which will eventually be a kindergarten-through-12th-grade charter school, will start with a
kindergarten and sixth-grade class in September. The sixth grade will be housed in the organization's
new headquarters on 125th Street; the kindergarten is expected to open inside an existing public school.
The academy will expand over the course of seven years into a school of 1,300 students. The curriculum
will be intense: classes will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., five days a week -- an hour and a half longer than
regular city schools. After-school programs will run until 6 p.m., and the school year will continue well
into July.

Although charter schools are regulated by the state, and are outside the city's control, Joel I. Klein, the
city's schools chancellor, has supported Canada's charter-school efforts. Canada said he sees Bloomberg
and Klein as his allies, which is a strange feeling, he said, because for so long he felt as if he were at war
with the school system. Soon after Klein was appointed, in the fall of 2002, he called Canada and set up
a meeting. Canada said that the proposals Klein laid out for the entire school system -- greater
accountability, more charter schools, more involvement for outside groups -- were exactly what Canada
had been waiting to hear. In the summer of 2003, Klein appointed Lucille Swarns to be the regional
superintendent for Upper Manhattan, and when Canada met her, he was once again pleasantly surprised.

''When I first came here in the early 1980's,'' Canada said, ''we felt that District 3'' -- which stretches from
the Upper West Side into central Harlem -- ''ran a system almost of apartheid, where below 96th Street,

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the schools were doing great, and the schools we cared about were doing lousy.'' Even after his
organization began spending a million dollars a year in the district's schools, he said, he never once got a
call from the district superintendent. With Swarns things were different right away.

The most surprising aspect of the new collaboration between Klein and Canada is that the chancellor is
encouraging the Harlem Children's Zone's plans to convert existing public schools in Harlem into charter
schools. Canada has received conditional approval from Klein to start a slowly expanding charter school,
beginning this fall with the Promise Academy's kindergarten class. As those children move through the
school, the organization will take over control of an additional grade each year, sharing the building with
the public school while gradually supplanting it. In six years, Canada explained, ''we're going to put the
existing school out of business'' -- and he said he hopes that that school is only the beginning.

All of which makes skeptics, especially those in the teachers' union, wonder about Canada's motivation.
Randi Weingarten, the president of the United Federation of Teachers, said that she used to be friendly
with Canada, even attending his fund-raisers, until Bloomberg and Klein came into office and started
making threatening noises toward her union. ''Since the mayor became mayor, Geoff Canada has stopped
having any relationship with us,'' she said.

In her opinion, Canada's new attitude comes down to politics: ''I think what's happened is that they've
decided that they'll work with the mayor, and that they won't work with the public-school system except
through the mayor and the chancellor'' -- meaning that they won't work with the teachers' union. Canada
often speaks of the opposition that his charter-school plan is going to face from the teachers' union and
what he calls the educational establishment, but to Weingarten, it's the other way around: it's Canada
who is picking this fight, demonizing the teachers' union in order to score political points with the
mayor. ''They are working very secretly with the Board of Education and the Bloomberg administration''
on the charter-school plan, she said, a strategy that she said was shortsighted, not least because it is far
from certain that Bloomberg will be re-elected. ''If you truly want schools to succeed,'' she said, ''you
work with the people who represent the teachers.''

The battle between the teachers' union and City Hall has been going on for decades, but it has reached an
unusually high pitch under Bloomberg. Canada clearly feels a genuine ideological kinship with the
mayor, and with Klein, but there's also an immediate advantage to his alliance with them: his charter
schools will use nonunion teachers; they will be paid more than public-school teachers, he said, but they
will also work longer days, and for 12 months a year. Canada also wanted a free hand to fire teachers
who weren't performing up to his expectations -- authority Canada said he felt sure the union would not
give him. At his new school, he will have it.

n the days and weeks leading up to the charter-school lottery, the organization's outreach workers did
exactly what Geoffrey Canada said they would do: they went door-to-door in housing projects, they
tracked down recalcitrant mothers and fathers, they solicited applications from the parents of children in
every one of their programs. And by the evening of the lottery, a rainy Tuesday in April, they had
received 359 applications for just 180 slots -- 90 in the kindergarten class and 90 in the sixth grade.
Legally, they could have held the lottery behind closed doors and simply mailed out acceptance letters,
but Canada wanted it to be a real event, so he arranged to hold the lottery in public, in the auditorium of
P.S. 242 on West 122nd Street.

By the time the lottery began, the place was packed. Every seat was filled with a hopeful parent or a
prospective student or a patient sibling, and late arrivals were standing in the aisles or cramming

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themselves into the back of the room. Multicolored helium balloons were tied to the end of each row of
seats, which gave the room a festive air, but more than anything the place felt nervous.

Canada took the stage. On a long table next to him, a gold drum held a jumble of index cards, each one
printed with the name of a child. ''We are calling our school Promise Academy because we are making a
promise to all of our parents,'' Canada said from behind a lectern. ''If your child is in our school, we will
guarantee that child succeeds. There will be no excuses. We're not going to say, 'The child failed because
they came from a home with only one parent.' We're not going to say, 'The child failed because they're
new immigrants into the country.' If your child gets into our school, that child is going to succeed. If you
work with us as parents, we are going to do everything -- and I mean everything -- to see that your child
gets a good education.''

And then the drawing began, starting with the kindergarten class. Doreen Land, the charter schools'
newly hired superintendent, read the first name into a microphone: ''Dijon Brinnard.'' A whoop went up
from the back of the auditorium, and a jubilant mother started edging her way out of her row, proudly
clutching the hand of her 4-year-old son. Land smiled and took the next card: ''Kasim-Seann Cisse.''
Another whoop, some applause and then another name.

At the front of the auditorium, Canada greeted each mother (or, occasionally, father) and child. Proud
parents shook his hand and introduced their children, beaming on their way back to their seats. In the
second row, a woman in her 40's, wearing an ''I Love New York'' T-shirt and a red nylon jacket, sat with
her head bowed and her eyes shut tight, her lips moving in an anxious prayer. And then Land called the
name ''Jaylene Fonseca,'' and the woman's eyes flew open. She made her way to the front, shook
Canada's hand and then told me that her name was Wilma Jure and that Jaylene was her niece, a 4-year-
old already enrolled in Harlem Gems. As her eyes filled with tears, she explained that Jaylene's mother,
Jure's sister, was living in the city's shelter system for homeless families. Most nights, Jaylene slept with
her mother in a shelter on 41st Street, then spent the day in Harlem Gems. ''It's an amazing program for
people like us who really don't have the means to send our kids to get such a good education,'' Jure said.
''I mean, she's learning French,'' she added, a little incredulous. Now Jaylene was guaranteed a spot in the
Promise Academy from kindergarten through the end of high school. It was hard not to feel that her life
had just changed for the better, with the draw of a card.

As the evening wore on, though, the mood in the auditorium started to shift. The kindergarten lottery
ended, the chosen students trooped out to the cafeteria for a group photo and the sixth-grade lottery
began. In the front row, Virainia Utley sat with her daughter Janiqua, listening to the names being called.
Utley is something of a model parent in the Harlem Children's Zone. Janiqua is in the Fifth Grade
Institute at P.S. 242, and her three younger siblings -- Jaquan, Janisha and John -- are all enrolled in the
computer-assisted after-school reading program. Utley is the vice president of her tenants' association,
which was organized by Community Pride, the community-organizing division, and she is a regular
presence at Zone events. When I first met her, months earlier, she was already talking about Janiqua
going to the Promise Academy. But now the lottery numbers were rising -- 54, 55, 56 -- and her name
hadn't yet been called.

After Land read out the 90th name, Canada took the stage again and explained to the remaining parents
that it wasn't likely that there would be room for their children in the sixth grade. Land would read out
the rest of the names and put them on a waiting list, he said, but this part wouldn't be much fun. He
encouraged everyone to go home. Land went back to reading names, and Utley and Janiqua sat and
listened, still in their seats, as the waiting list grew and the number of cards in the drum dwindled. By the
time Land got to the 80th place on the waiting list, Utley told me, she and Janiqua were just waiting to

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make sure her name was called. Maybe her card got lost, she said, or stuck to another card. The room
was thinning out, and the only remaining parents were angry ones. One by one they were letting Canada
know how they felt. A line of parents came up to him to find out what could be done to get their children
into the school, and he had to tell each one the same thing: nothing could be done. One woman, who was
too angry to give me her name, spat out her complaint. ''It's not fair,'' she shouted. ''And I don't like it.''
Why drag everyone out on a rainy night, she wanted to know, just to sit in a public-school auditorium
and feel like losers?

Finally, at No. 111 on the waiting list, Janiqua Utley's name was called, and her mother rose, took her by
the hand and started up the aisle to the backdoor. As workers began sweeping up coffee cups and popped
balloons, I sat down next to Canada. He looked exhausted, overwhelmed not only by the evening but
also by the enormity of the task ahead of him. His eyes were watery, and as we talked, he dabbed
periodically at his nose with his folded-up handkerchief. ''I was trying to get folks to leave and not to
hang around to be the last kid called,'' he said. ''This is very hard for me to see. It's very, very sad. These
parents feel, Well, there go my child's chances.''

It was a waiting list, I reminded him, that had started him on the path toward the Harlem Children's Zone
more than a decade ago -- and now, despite all the millions of dollars, and the staff of 650 and the
backing of the mayor, he is still setting up waiting lists. He nodded. ''We've got to do more,'' he said.
''We've got to do better.'' He sighed and looked up at the stage, where Land had just reached No. 150.

Paul Tough is an editor at The New York Times Magazine.

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Lesson 10. Poverty
James Yarsky

Begin with silent worship.

Students write some choice lines from Eminem, Nelly, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, Bob Herbert, Malcolm X,
Neil Young, Pope John Paul II on the board while I play G.O.D. (Gaining One's Definition), Retrospect
for Life and Pop’s Rap by Common on the CD player. Why? What‘s on the board? What did we just
hear? Does this music play a role in the breakdown of a society? What is the role of the person who
listens to this music from a distance to the neighborhood on which the narrative is based>

Next, we talk about the two Bob Herbert articles from the last two weeks of the Times. What is
Ghettopoly? Why do people seem more upset about Ghettopoly than the actual conditions of broken

Materials needed

Source quotes (above)

Fight The Power
Shocklee - Sadler - Ridenhour

1989 the number another summer (get down)
Sound of the funky drummer
Music hittin' your heart cause I know you got sould
(Brothers and sisters, hey)
Listen if you're missin' y'all
Swingin' while I'm singin'
Givin' whatcha gettin'
Knowin' what I know
While the Black bands sweatin'
And the rhythm rhymes rollin'
Got to give us what we want
Gotta give us what we need
Our freedom of speech is freedom or death
We got to fight the powers that be
Lemme hear you say
Fight the power

As the rhythm designed to bounce
What counts is that the rhymes
Designed to fill your mind
Now that you've realized the prides arrived
We got to pump the stuff to make us tough
from the heart
It's a start, a work of art
To revolutionize make a change nothin's strange
People, people we are the same
No we're not the same
Cause we don't know the game
What we need is awareness, we can't get careless
You say what is this?
My beloved lets get down to business

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Mental self defensive fitness
(Yo) bum rush the show
You gotta go for what you know
Make everybody see, in order to fight the powers that be
Lemme hear you say...
Fight the Power

Elvis was a hero to most
But he never meant &*@! to me you see
Straight up racist that sucker was
Simple and plain
Mother &*@! him and John Wayne
Cause I'm Black and I'm proud
I'm ready and hyped plus I'm amped
Most of my heroes don't appear on no stamps
Sample a look back you look and find
Nothing but rednecks for 400 years if you check
Don't worry be happy
Was a number one jam
Damn if I say it you can slap me right here
(Get it) lets get this party started right
Right on, c'mon
What we got to say
Power to the people no delay
To make everybody see
In order to fight the powers that be

The hook/motivation

What does pop culture have to say about the state of poverty in America?


Read the Martin Luther King Speech (below).

Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence
By Rev. Martin Luther King
4 April 1967

Speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity
Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City

I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I
join with you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the
organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. The recent
statement of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart and I found myself in full
accord when I read its opening lines: "A time comes when silence is betrayal." That time has come for us
in relation to Vietnam.

The truth of these words is beyond doubt but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one.
Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their
government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty
against all the apathy of conformist thought within one's own bosom and in the surrounding world.

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Moreover when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict
we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.

Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak
is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate
to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in
our nation's history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the
prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of
conscience and the reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its
movement well and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in
need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.

Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the
burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many
persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has
often loomed large and loud: Why are you speaking about war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the
voices of dissent? Peace and civil rights don't mix, they say. Aren't you hurting the cause of your people,
they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless
greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment
or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.

In the light of such tragic misunderstandings, I deem it of signal importance to try to state clearly, and I
trust concisely, why I believe that the path from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church -- the church in
Montgomery, Alabama, where I began my pastorate -- leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight.

I come to this platform tonight to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation. This speech is not
addressed to Hanoi or to the National Liberation Front. It is not addressed to China or to Russia.

Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation and the need for a collective solution
to the tragedy of Vietnam. Neither is it an attempt to make North Vietnam or the National Liberation
Front paragons of virtue, nor to overlook the role they can play in a successful resolution of the problem.
While they both may have justifiable reason to be suspicious of the good faith of the United States, life
and history give eloquent testimony to the fact that conflicts are never resolved without trustful give and
take on both sides.

Tonight, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the NLF, but rather to my fellow Americans, who,
with me, bear the greatest responsibility in ending a conflict that has exacted a heavy price on both

The Importance of Vietnam

Since I am a preacher by trade, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing
Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile
connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America. A
few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of
hope for the poor -- both black and white -- through the poverty program. There were experiments,
hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and
eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that
America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as

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adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive
suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as

Perhaps the more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was
doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their
brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of
the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending
them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in
southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching
Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to
seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor
village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit. I could not be silent in the
face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.

My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the
ghettoes of the North over the last three years -- especially the last three summers. As I have walked
among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles
would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my
conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked -- and
rightly so -- what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence
to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I
could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first
spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government. For the
sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling
under our violence, I cannot be silent.

For those who ask the question, "Aren't you a civil rights leader?" and thereby mean to exclude me from
the movement for peace, I have this further answer. In 1957 when a group of us formed the Southern
Christian Leadership Conference, we chose as our motto: "To save the soul of America." We were
convinced that we could not limit our vision to certain rights for black people, but instead affirmed the
conviction that America would never be free or saved from itself unless the descendants of its slaves
were loosed completely from the shackles they still wear. In a way we were agreeing with Langston
Hughes, that black bard of Harlem, who had written earlier:

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Now, it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of
America today can ignore the present war. If America's soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the
autopsy must read Vietnam. It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the
world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that America will be are led down the path of
protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.

As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another
burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1964; and I cannot forget that the Nobel Prize for Peace

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was also a commission -- a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for "the
brotherhood of man." This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances, but even if it were not
present I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To
me the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those
who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the good news
was meant for all men -- for Communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for
white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the
one who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them? What then can I say to the "Vietcong" or to
Castro or to Mao as a faithful minister of this one? Can I threaten them with death or must I not share
with them my life?

Finally, as I try to delineate for you and for myself the road that leads from Montgomery to this place I
would have offered all that was most valid if I simply said that I must be true to my conviction that I
share with all men the calling to be a son of the living God. Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed
is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood, and because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned
especially for his suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them.

This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances
and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation's self-
defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our
nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less
our brothers.

Strange Liberators

And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond to
compassion my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of
each side, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of
war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them too because it is clear to me that there will
be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.

They must see Americans as strange liberators. The Vietnamese people proclaimed their own
independence in 1945 after a combined French and Japanese occupation, and before the Communist
revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. Even though they quoted the American Declaration
of Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize them. Instead, we decided
to support France in its reconquest of her former colony.

Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not "ready" for independence, and we again
fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long.
With that tragic decision we rejected a revolutionary government seeking self-determination, and a
government that had been established not by China (for whom the Vietnamese have no great love) but by
clearly indigenous forces that included some Communists. For the peasants this new government meant
real land reform, one of the most important needs in their lives.

For nine years following 1945 we denied the people of Vietnam the right of independence. For nine
years we vigorously supported the French in their abortive effort to recolonize Vietnam.

Before the end of the war we were meeting eighty percent of the French war costs. Even before the
French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, they began to despair of the reckless action, but we did not. We

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encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had
lost the will. Soon we would be paying almost the full costs of this tragic attempt at recolonization.

After the French were defeated it looked as if independence and land reform would come again through
the Geneva agreements. But instead there came the United States, determined that Ho should not unify
the temporarily divided nation, and the peasants watched again as we supported one of the most vicious
modern dictators -- our chosen man, Premier Diem. The peasants watched and cringed as Diem
ruthlessly routed out all opposition, supported their extortionist landlords and refused even to discuss
reunification with the north. The peasants watched as all this was presided over by U.S. influence and
then by increasing numbers of U.S. troops who came to help quell the insurgency that Diem's methods
had aroused. When Diem was overthrown they may have been happy, but the long line of military
dictatorships seemed to offer no real change -- especially in terms of their need for land and peace.

The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments
which were singularly corrupt, inept and without popular support. All the while the people read our
leaflets and received regular promises of peace and democracy -- and land reform. Now they languish
under our bombs and consider us -- not their fellow Vietnamese --the real enemy. They move sadly and
apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social
needs are rarely met. They know they must move or be destroyed by our bombs. So they go -- primarily
women and children and the aged.

They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the
bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the
hospitals, with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one "Vietcong"-inflicted injury.
So far we may have killed a million of them -- mostly children. They wander into the towns and see
thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They
see the children, degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters
to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.

What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action
into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test our latest weapons on them,
just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe?
Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless

We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have
destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing of the nation's only non-
Communist revolutionary political force -- the unified Buddhist church. We have supported the
enemies of the peasants of Saigon. We have corrupted their women and children and killed their
men. What liberators?

Now there is little left to build on -- save bitterness. Soon the only solid physical foundations remaining
will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call fortified
hamlets. The peasants may well wonder if we plan to build our new Vietnam on such grounds as these?
Could we blame them for such thoughts? We must speak for them and raise the questions they cannot
raise. These too are our brothers.

Perhaps the more difficult but no less necessary task is to speak for those who have been designated as
our enemies. What of the National Liberation Front -- that strangely anonymous group we call VC or

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Communists? What must they think of us in America when they realize that we permitted the repression
and cruelty of Diem which helped to bring them into being as a resistance group in the south? What do
they think of our condoning the violence which led to their own taking up of arms? How can they believe
in our integrity when now we speak of "aggression from the north" as if there were nothing more
essential to the war? How can they trust us when now we charge them with violence after the murderous
reign of Diem and charge them with violence while we pour every new weapon of death into their land?
Surely we must understand their feelings even if we do not condone their actions. Surely we must see
that the men we supported pressed them to their violence. Surely we must see that our own computerized
plans of destruction simply dwarf their greatest acts.

How do they judge us when our officials know that their membership is less than twenty-five percent
Communist and yet insist on giving them the blanket name? What must they be thinking when they
know that we are aware of their control of major sections of Vietnam and yet we appear ready to allow
national elections in which this highly organized political parallel government will have no part? They
ask how we can speak of free elections when the Saigon press is censored and controlled by the military
junta. And they are surely right to wonder what kind of new government we plan to help form without
them -- the only party in real touch with the peasants. They question our political goals and they deny the
reality of a peace settlement from which they will be excluded. Their questions are frighteningly
relevant. Is our nation planning to build on political myth again and then shore it up with the power of
new violence?

Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence when it helps us to see the enemy's
point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may
indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and
profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.

So, too, with Hanoi. In the north, where our bombs now pummel the land, and our mines endanger the
waterways, we are met by a deep but understandable mistrust. To speak for them is to explain this lack of
confidence in Western words, and especially their distrust of American intentions now. In Hanoi are the
men who led the nation to independence against the Japanese and the French, the men who sought
membership in the French commonwealth and were betrayed by the weakness of Paris and the
willfulness of the colonial armies. It was they who led a second struggle against French domination at
tremendous costs, and then were persuaded to give up the land they controlled between the thirteenth and
seventeenth parallel as a temporary measure at Geneva. After 1954 they watched us conspire with Diem
to prevent elections which would have surely brought Ho Chi Minh to power over a united Vietnam, and
they realized they had been betrayed again.

When we ask why they do not leap to negotiate, these things must be remembered. Also it must be clear
that the leaders of Hanoi considered the presence of American troops in support of the Diem regime to
have been the initial military breach of the Geneva agreements concerning foreign troops, and they
remind us that they did not begin to send in any large number of supplies or men until American forces
had moved into the tens of thousands.

Hanoi remembers how our leaders refused to tell us the truth about the earlier North Vietnamese
overtures for peace, how the president claimed that none existed when they had clearly been made. Ho
Chi Minh has watched as America has spoken of peace and built up its forces, and now he has surely
heard of the increasing international rumors of American plans for an invasion of the north. He knows
the bombing and shelling and mining we are doing are part of traditional pre-invasion strategy. Perhaps
only his sense of humor and of irony can save him when he hears the most powerful nation of the world

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speaking of aggression as it drops thousands of bombs on a poor weak nation more than eight thousand
miles away from its shores.

At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the
voiceless on Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called enemy, I am as deeply
concerned about our troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them
to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other
and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short
period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must
know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated
surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy and the secure while we create hell for the poor.

This Madness Must Cease

Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the
suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being
destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double
price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world,
for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my
own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.

This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these

"Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of
those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their
enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military
victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political
defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom and democracy,
but the image of violence and militarism."

If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no
honorable intentions in Vietnam. It will become clear that our minimal expectation is to occupy it as an
American colony and men will not refrain from thinking that our maximum hope is to goad China into a
war so that we may bomb her nuclear installations. If we do not stop our war against the people of
Vietnam immediately the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horribly
clumsy and deadly game we have decided to play.

The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we
admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been
detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn
sharply from our present ways.

In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this
tragic war. I would like to suggest five concrete things that our government should do immediately to
begin the long and difficult process of extricating ourselves from this nightmarish conflict:

End all bombing in North and South Vietnam.

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Declare a unilateral cease-fire in the hope that such action will create the atmosphere for negotiation.

Take immediate steps to prevent other battlegrounds in Southeast Asia by curtailing our military buildup
in Thailand and our interference in Laos.

Realistically accept the fact that the National Liberation Front has substantial support in South Vietnam
and must thereby play a role in any meaningful negotiations and in any future Vietnam government.

Set a date that we will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam in accordance with the 1954 Geneva

Part of our ongoing commitment might well express itself in an offer to grant asylum to any Vietnamese
who fears for his life under a new regime which included the Liberation Front. Then we must make what
reparations we can for the damage we have done. We most provide the medical aid that is badly needed,
making it available in this country if necessary.

Protesting The War

Meanwhile we in the churches and synagogues have a continuing task while we urge our government to
disengage itself from a disgraceful commitment. We must continue to raise our voices if our nation
persists in its perverse ways in Vietnam. We must be prepared to match actions with words by seeking
out every creative means of protest possible.

As we counsel young men concerning military service we must clarify for them our nation's role in
Vietnam and challenge them with the alternative of conscientious objection. I am pleased to say that this
is the path now being chosen by more than seventy students at my own alma mater, Morehouse College,
and I recommend it to all who find the American course in Vietnam a dishonorable and unjust one.
Moreover I would encourage all ministers of draft age to give up their ministerial exemptions and seek
status as conscientious objectors. These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the
moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of
humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.

There is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some
circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter the struggle, but I
wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing. The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far
deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality we will find ourselves
organizing clergy- and laymen-concerned committees for the next generation. They will be concerned
about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be
concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names
and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and
policy. Such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God.

In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the
wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression
which now has justified the presence of U.S. military "advisors" in Venezuela. This need to maintain
social stability for our investments accounts for the counter-revolutionary action of American forces in
Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Colombia and why
American napalm and green beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru. It is with such

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activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he
said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken -- the role of those who make
peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the
immense profits of overseas investment.

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must
undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented"
society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and
property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism,
materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our
past and present policies. n the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life's
roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho
road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as
they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a
beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars
needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of
poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual
capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to
take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: "This is not
just." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: "This is not
just." The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn
from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war:
"This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm,
of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into
veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields
physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice
and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on
programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this
revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering
our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is
nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have
fashioned it into a brotherhood.

This kind of positive revolution of values is our best defense against communism. War is not the
answer. Communism will never be defeated by the use of atomic bombs or nuclear weapons. Let us
not join those who shout war and through their misguided passions urge the United States to
relinquish its participation in the United Nations. These are days which demand wise restraint and
calm reasonableness. We must not call everyone a Communist or an appeaser who advocates the
seating of Red China in the United Nations and who recognizes that hate and hysteria are not the
final answers to the problem of these turbulent days. We must not engage in a negative anti-
communism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy, realizing that our greatest defense
against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice. We must with positive action

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seek to remove thosse conditions of poverty, insecurity and injustice which are the fertile soil in
which the seed of communism grows and develops.

The People Are Important

These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation
and oppression and out of the wombs of a frail world new systems of justice and equality are being born.
The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. "The people who sat in
darkness have seen a great light." We in the West must support these revolutions. It is a sad fact that,
because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice,
the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now
become the arch anti-revolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has the
revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgement against our failure to make democracy real
and follow through on the revolutions we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture
the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty,
racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and
unjust mores and thereby speed the day when "every valley shall be exalted, and every moutain and hill
shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain."

A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical
rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in
order to preserve the best in their individual societies.

This call for a world-wide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one's tribe, race, class
and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all men. This oft
misunderstood and misinterpreted concept -- so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as
a weak and cowardly force -- has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When
I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that
force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is
somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Moslem-
Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first
epistle of Saint John:

Let us love one another; for love is God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God.
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. If we love one another God dwelleth in us,
and his love is perfected in us.

Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day. We can no longer afford to worship
the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by
the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that
pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says : "Love is the ultimate force that
makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil.
Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of
now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late.
Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost
opportunity. The "tide in the affairs of men" does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out

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Who are the poor and why are they poor?                                                                                  Section 2

deperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the
bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: "Too late."
There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. "The moving finger
writes, and having writ moves on..." We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-

We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam
and justice throughout the developing world -- a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act
we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those
who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter -- but beautiful -- struggle for a
new world. This is the callling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall
we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the
forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will
there be another message, of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their
cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in
this crucial moment of human history.

As that noble bard of yesterday, James Russell Lowell, eloquently stated:

Once to every man and nation
Comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth and falsehood,
For the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God's new Messiah,
Off'ring each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever
Twixt that darkness and that light.

Though the cause of evil prosper,
Yet 'tis truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold,
And upon the throne be wrong:
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow
Keeping watch above his own

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Who are the poor and why are they poor?                                                                                   Section 2

Lesson 11. Poverty
James Yarsky

Begin with silent worship.

What did you think of the MLK speech? What is the connection between warfare and poverty? What is
our role?

What are practical ways to offer hope to people who feel hopeless?

Is this the root of socialism? What is so bad about socialism?

Do you know how valuable another person‘s work is to the larger good? What about Utah‘s decision to
grant amnesty to its Mexican immigrants for fear that the state economy would collapse? How valuable
are menial jobs?

It‘s a very osteopath view of society.

How else can you offer people who feel less valued a sense of belonging and opportunity?

We talk about poor neighborhoods as a business. How would you invest in a poor neighborhood?
   If you don‘t put up money for schools early on, then you pay much more for prisons and police later.
   Why wouldn‘t you put money into struggling neighborhoods early so the inhabitants become law-
    abiding tax payers as they age?
   Isn‘t that good business?
   Besides, I don‘t want to get mugged by your kid in the future.

What about dire poverty. Sub-Saharan Africa? Southeast Asia? Central America? Nazi Germany?
What do all these places have in common? Why are people starving to death? What affect does all this
suffering have on the world?

UNICEF report shows half the world's children are devastated by poverty, conflict and AIDS. 1 billion
children are denied a healthy and protected upbringing as promised by 1989's Convention on the Rights
of the Child, the world's most widely adopted human rights treaty. The report stresses that the failure of
governments to live up to the Convention's standards causes permanent damage to children and in turn
blocks progress toward human rights and economic advancement .- UNICEF web site
   640 million children do not have adequate shelter
   500 million children have no access to sanitation
   400 million children do not have access to safe water
   300 million children lack access to information
   270 million children have no access to health care services
   140 million children have never been to school
   90 million children are severely food-deprived

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Who are the poor and why are they poor?                                                                                  Section 2

It‘s time to start talking about solutions

Materials needed

Addresses, parental approval. (Letter writing materials are not completed yet. Discussion is solely
based on the abstract idea).

The hook/motivation

What can poor people learn from wealthy people?


Read The Singer Solution to World Poverty. (Below)

In the Brazilian film Central Station, Dora is a retired schoolteacher who makes ends meet by sitting at
the station writing letters for illiterate people. Suddenly she has an opportunity to pocket $1,000. All she
has to do is persuade a homeless 9-year-old boy to follow her to an address she has been given. (She is
told he will be adopted by wealthy foreigners.) She delivers the boy, gets the money, spends some of it
on a television set and settles down to enjoy her new acquisition. Her neighbor spoils the fun, however,
by telling her that the boy was too old to be adopted — he will be killed and his organs sold for
transplantation. Perhaps Dora knew this all along, but after her neighbor's plain speaking, she spends a
troubled night. In the morning Dora resolves to take the boy back.

Suppose Dora had told her neighbor that it is a tough world, other people have nice new TV's too, and if
selling the kid is the only way she can get one, well, he was only a street kid. She would then have
become, in the eyes of the audience, a monster. She redeems herself only by being prepared to bear
considerable risks to save the boy.

At the end of the movie, in cinemas in the affluent nations of the world, people who would have been
quick to condemn Dora if she had not rescued the boy go home to places far more comfortable than her
apartment. In fact, the average family in the United States spends almost one-third of its income on
things that are no more necessary to them than Dora's new TV was to her. Going out to nice restaurants,
buying new clothes because the old ones are no longer stylish, vacationing at beach resorts — so much
of our income is spent on things not essential to the preservation of our lives and health. Donated to one
of a number of charitable agencies, that money could mean the difference between life and death for
children in need.

All of which raises a question: In the end, what is the ethical distinction between a Brazilian who sells a
homeless child to organ peddlers and an American who already has a TV and upgrades to a better one —
knowing that the money could be donated to an organization that would use it to save the lives of kids in

Of course, there are several differences between the two situations that could support different moral
judgments about them. For one thing, to be able to consign a child to death when he is standing right in
front of you takes a chilling kind of heartlessness; it is much easier to ignore an appeal for money to help
children you will never meet. Yet for a utilitarian philosopher like myself — that is, one who judges
whether acts are right or wrong by their consequences — if the upshot of the American's failure to

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Who are the poor and why are they poor?                                                                                   Section 2

donate the money is that one more kid dies on the streets of a Brazilian city, then it is, in some sense, just
as bad as selling the kid to the organ peddlers. But one doesn't need to embrace my utilitarian ethic to see
that, at the very least, there is a troubling incongruity in being so quick to condemn Dora for taking the
child to the organ peddlers while, at the same time, not regarding the American consumer's behavior as
raising a serious moral issue.

In his 1996 book, Living High and Letting Die, the New York University philosopher Peter Unger
presented an ingenious series of imaginary examples designed to probe our intuitions about whether it is
wrong to live well without giving substantial amounts of money to help people who are hungry,
malnourished or dying from easily treatable illnesses like diarrhea. Here's my paraphrase of one of these

Bob is close to retirement. He has invested most of his savings in a very rare and valuable old car, a
Bugatti, which he has not been able to insure. The Bugatti is his pride and joy. In addition to the pleasure
he gets from driving and caring for his car, Bob knows that its rising market value means that he will
always be able to sell it and live comfortably after retirement. One day when Bob is out for a drive, he
parks the Bugatti near the end of a railway siding and goes for a walk up the track. As he does so, he sees
that a runaway train, with no one aboard, is running down the railway track. Looking farther down the
track, he sees the small figure of a child very likely to be killed by the runaway train. He can't stop the
train and the child is too far away to warn of the danger, but he can throw a switch that will divert the
train down the siding where his Bugatti is parked. Then nobody will be killed -- but the train will destroy
his Bugatti. Thinking of his joy in owning the car and the financial security it represents, Bob decides not
to throw the switch. The child is killed. For many years to come, Bob enjoys owning his Bugatti and the
financial security it represents.

Bob's conduct, most of us will immediately respond, was gravely wrong. Unger agrees. But then he
reminds us that we, too, have opportunities to save the lives of children. We can give to organizations
like UNICEF or Oxfam America. How much would we have to give one of these organizations to have
a high probability of saving the life of a child threatened by easily preventable diseases? (I do not believe
that children are more worth saving than adults, but since no one can argue that children have brought
their poverty on themselves, focusing on them simplifies the issues.) Unger called up some experts and
used the information they provided to offer some plausible estimates that include the cost of raising
money, administrative expenses and the cost of delivering aid where it is most needed. By his
calculation, $200 in donations would help a sickly 2-year-old transform into a healthy 6-year-old —
offering safe passage through childhood's most dangerous years. To show how practical philosophical
argument can be, Unger even tells his readers that they can easily donate funds by using their credit card
and calling one of these toll-free numbers: (800) 367-5437 for Unicef; (800) 693-2687 for Oxfam

Now you, too, have the information you need to save a child's life. How should you judge yourself if you
don't do it? Think again about Bob and his Bugatti. Unlike Dora, Bob did not have to look into the eyes
of the child he was sacrificing for his own material comfort. The child was a complete stranger to him
and too far away to relate to in an intimate, personal way. Unlike Dora, too, he did not mislead the child
or initiate the chain of events imperiling him. In all these respects, Bob's situation resembles that of
people able but unwilling to donate to overseas aid and differs from Dora's situation.

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If you still think that it was very wrong of Bob not to throw the switch that would have diverted the train
and saved the child's life, then it is hard to see how you could deny that it is also very wrong not to send
money to one of the organizations listed above. Unless, that is, there is some morally important
difference between the two situations that I have overlooked.

Is it the practical uncertainties about whether aid will really reach the people who need it? Nobody who
knows the world of overseas aid can doubt that such uncertainties exist. But Unger's figure of $200 to
save a child's life was reached after he had made conservative assumptions about the proportion of the
money donated that will actually reach its target.

One genuine difference between Bob and those who can afford to donate to overseas aid organizations
but don't is that only Bob can save the child on the tracks, whereas there are hundreds of millions of
people who can give $200 to overseas aid organizations. The problem is that most of them aren't doing it.
Does this mean that it is all right for you not to do it?

Suppose that there were more owners of priceless vintage cars — Carol, Dave, Emma, Fred and so on,
down to Ziggy — all in exactly the same situation as Bob, with their own siding and their own switch, all
sacrificing the child in order to preserve their own cherished car. Would that make it all right for Bob to
do the same? To answer this question affirmatively is to endorse follow-the-crowd ethics — the kind of
ethics that led many Germans to look away when the Nazi atrocities were being committed. We do not
excuse them because others were behaving no better.

We seem to lack a sound basis for drawing a clear moral line between Bob's situation and that of any
reader of this article with $200 to spare who does not donate it to an overseas aid agency. These readers
seem to be acting at least as badly as Bob was acting when he chose to let the runaway train hurtle
toward the unsuspecting child. In the light of this conclusion, I trust that many readers will reach for the
phone and donate that $200. Perhaps you should do it before reading further.

Now that you have distinguished yourself morally from people who put their vintage cars ahead of a
child's life, how about treating yourself and your partner to dinner at your favorite restaurant? But wait.
The money you will spend at the restaurant could also help save the lives of children overseas! True, you
weren't planning to blow $200 tonight, but if you were to give up dining out just for one month, you
would easily save that amount. And what is one month's dining out, compared to a child's life? There's
the rub. Since there are a lot of desperately needy children in the world, there will always be another
child whose life you could save for another $200. Are you therefore obliged to keep giving until you
have nothing left? At what point can you stop?

Hypothetical examples can easily become farcical. Consider Bob. How far past losing the Bugatti should
he go? Imagine that Bob had got his foot stuck in the track of the siding, and if he diverted the train, then
before it rammed the car it would also amputate his big toe. Should he still throw the switch? What if it
would amputate his foot? His entire leg?

As absurd as the Bugatti scenario gets when pushed to extremes, the point it raises is a serious one: only
when the sacrifices become very significant indeed would most people be prepared to say that Bob does
nothing wrong when he decides not to throw the switch. Of course, most people could be wrong; we
can't decide moral issues by taking opinion polls. But consider for yourself the level of sacrifice that you
would demand of Bob, and then think about how much money you would have to give away in order to
make a sacrifice that is roughly equal to that. It's almost certainly much, much more than $200. For most
middle-class Americans, it could easily be more like $200,000.

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Isn't it counterproductive to ask people to do so much? Don't we run the risk that many will shrug their
shoulders and say that morality, so conceived, is fine for saints but not for them? I accept that we are
unlikely to see, in the near or even medium-term future, a world in which it is normal for wealthy
Americans to give the bulk of their wealth to strangers. When it comes to praising or blaming people for
what they do, we tend to use a standard that is relative to some conception of normal behavior.
Comfortably off Americans who give, say, 10 percent of their income to overseas aid organizations are
so far ahead of most of their equally comfortable fellow citizens that I wouldn't go out of my way to
chastise them for not doing more. Nevertheless, they should be doing much more, and they are in no
position to criticize Bob for failing to make the much greater sacrifice of his Bugatti.

At this point various objections may crop up. Someone may say: "If every citizen living in the affluent
nations contributed his or her share I wouldn't have to make such a drastic sacrifice, because long before
such levels were reached, the resources would have been there to save the lives of all those children
dying from lack of food or medical care. So why should I give more than my fair share?" Another,
related, objection is that the Government ought to increase its overseas aid allocations, since that would
spread the burden more equitably across all taxpayers.

Yet the question of how much we ought to give is a matter to be decided in the real world — and that,
sadly, is a world in which we know that most people do not, and in the immediate future will not, give
substantial amounts to overseas aid agencies. We know, too, that at least in the next year, the United
States Government is not going to meet even the very modest United Nations-recommended target of 0.7
percent of gross national product; at the moment it lags far below that, at 0.09 percent, not even half of
Japan's 0.22 percent or a tenth of Denmark's 0.97 percent. Thus, we know that the money we can give
beyond that theoretical "fair share" is still going to save lives that would otherwise be lost. While the
idea that no one need do more than his or her fair share is a powerful one, should it prevail if we know
that others are not doing their fair share and that children will die preventable deaths unless we do more
than our fair share? That would be taking fairness too far.

Thus, this ground for limiting how much we ought to give also fails. In the world as it is now, I can see
no escape from the conclusion that each one of us with wealth surplus to his or her essential needs should
be giving most of it to help people suffering from poverty so dire as to be life-threatening. That's right:
I'm saying that you shouldn't buy that new car, take that cruise, redecorate the house or get that pricey
new suit. After all, a $1,000 suit could save five children's lives.

So how does my philosophy break down in dollars and cents? An American household with an income
of $50,000 spends around $30,000 annually on necessities, according to the Conference Board, a
nonprofit economic research organization. Therefore, for a household bringing in $50,000 a year,
donations to help the world's poor should be as close as possible to $20,000. The $30,000 required for
necessities holds for higher incomes as well. So a household making $100,000 could cut a yearly check
for $70,000. Again, the formula is simple: whatever money you're spending on luxuries, not necessities,
should be given away.

Now, evolutionary psychologists tell us that human nature just isn't sufficiently altruistic to make it
plausible that many people will sacrifice so much for strangers. On the facts of human nature, they might
be right, but they would be wrong to draw a moral conclusion from those facts. If it is the case that we
ought to do things that, predictably, most of us won't do, then let's face that fact head-on. Then, if we
value the life of a child more than going to fancy restaurants, the next time we dine out we will know

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that we could have done something better with our money. If that makes living a morally decent life
extremely arduous, well, then that is the way things are. If we don't do it, then we should at least know
that we are failing to live a morally decent life — not because it is good to wallow in guilt but because
knowing where we should be going is the first step toward heading in that direction.

When Bob first grasped the dilemma that faced him as he stood by that railway switch, he must have
thought how extraordinarily unlucky he was to be placed in a situation in which he must choose between
the life of an innocent child and the sacrifice of most of his savings. But he was not unlucky at all. We
are all in that situation.

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Solutions for poverty                                                                 Section 3

Section 3

Solutions for poverty

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Solutions for poverty                                                                                                    Section 3

Lesson 12. Poverty
James Yarsky

Begin with silent worship.

What is the power of money in the solution of poverty?

We discuss the Singer Solution to World Poverty. We discuss Singer‘s idea on donating all money made
over $30,000. Is it a moral responsibility to donate the money if it is a proven fact that the money will
save the lives of children? What gives Singer the right to draw the ―Enough Money‖ line?

Do students think that excess is a sin? Is it a moral responsibility to donate the money?

What role does money play in the solution to poverty? How can it be better allocated? Even on a small
scale, what can money do on a local level: Glen Cove, Locust Valley, Friends Academy, etc.? How
does money work in an organization like AFSC or Catholic Charities? Do the students see the
connection between solutions to poverty and money? Does it make them look at money in a different

The United States can be viewed as a particularly stingy nation. Opinion surveys show that Americans
believe that 20 percent of the federal budget is consumed by foreign aid, but the number is in fact far
smaller. The United States currently contributes about a tenth of 1 percent of its income in aid to poor
countries -- an abysmal rate that falls below that of all industrialized nations, and is dwarfed by the
giving rate of Canada (0.26 percent), Germany (0.28 percent), the United Kingdom (0.34 percent) and
France (0.42 percent). In 2004, the U.S. spent $15 billion on direct foreign aid; as a comparison, we
spent $450 billion on the military. In order to keep our promises and spend something along the lines of
what Sachs says we need to, we have to increase foreign aid to around $100 billion a year. America's
wealthy are so wealthy that we could get the necessary funds just by taxing the rich, Sachs points out. A
5 percent tax surcharge on incomes over $200,000 would do the trick.

Is poverty the hell of the wealthy? How do you convince someone that money doesn‘t = happiness.

The New Yorker article Jumpers. Relate to people who kill themselves over money problems. Do you
think all the people who jumped regretted it when their feet left the ground?

So how do you create benevolence from that idea?

Questions to consider for students who don’t like the idea of sharing what’s theirs

Q1. Is money the most important value? If so, can we agree that any value you have as a human being
disappears if you don't have money? For example: is that why you didn't think a person from Ethiopian
could invent the iPod?

Q2. Does everybody get what they deserve?

Q3 Do you deserve your money?

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Solutions for poverty                                                                                                   Section 3

Q4. If yes, why?

Q5. Who made the money you enjoy? How did they make it? Does it matter how?

Q6. If not, does it matter if someone hit the lottery? Old money? New money from some fad?
Corporate welfare, defense? Crime? -- Why

Q7. If that is the case, does it matter who you are? Can you be replaced by anyone, anywhere? An
Ethiopian? Why? Why not?

Q8. Who are you without money?

Q9 Who am I without money?

Your self interest is at stake. We divide the class up into two sections. ½ of the class is deemed western
Europe, the other half is southeast Asia. Mr Yarsky is the World Bank. I decided that the western
Europe students will get As and the southeast Asia kids get Fs. The southeast Asia kids may barter with
whatever they have but chances are the only thing the European kids need from you is cheap labor.
   This examines your world view and the struggle between self interest and power
   Chances are the southeast Asia kids will think this system is unfair. By what standard is this
    system unfair?

Materials needed

The Singer Solution to World Poverty – The New York Times Magazine.

The hook/motivation

What to do with all that money.

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Solutions for poverty                                                                                                  Section 3

Lesson 13. Poverty
James Yarsky

Begin with silent worship.

How do economies evolve?

In America, we had an Industrial Revolution that lead to countless jobs in manufacturing. Those jobs
dried up after a certain amount of time due to outsourcing. There was a very dry spell for employment
and then the Technology Revolution hit. That lead to countless jobs in the information technology field.
Those jobs dried up after a certain amount of time due to outsourcing. There was a very dry spell for
employment and then …. Now what?

What will be the next revolution in jobs? Do the students have any ideas on what might rebuild an
economy that shuts down blue and white collar jobs?

Will it be fuel centered? How do we create jobs based on our finite resources?

Can a global economy grow from a new energy source? What would that energy source have to
encompass? Is there anyone working on this? Who?

What role does personal responsibility play in this environment? What are rags to riches stories and why
are they so interesting? Can anyone relate a rags to riches story from their family history? What does
that story teach you? Why can‘t everyone appreciate that story?

On the global front: Is war a better investment than food and medicine relief. Should we follow
Belgium‘s, Switzerland‘s lead on the percentage of money we offer up for benevolence or should we
continue to stock pile weapons and soldiers — just in case

Materials needed

Journal article

Hook or motivation

Does everyone need to be an entrepreneur?

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Solutions for poverty                                                                                                    Section 3

Lesson 14. Poverty
James Yarsky

Begin with silent worship.

We discuss Shandeep's message in worship about his grandfather. How did faith keep his grandfather in
tact through financial ruin, success, ruin and success again? Why is it that the people with faith can
survive with more grace in dire situations that people without?

What is the difference between religion and faith? Which one is more important?

Is religion the answer? Why is it that many of the relief agencies for the poor are faith based? Why does
the President want to link taxpayer money with faith based organizations? In what kind of financial
states are the icons of most religions? Why?

Religion can be a great community builder and it‘s usually free.

Social Darwinism. What does it mean? Is that a proper way to build a society? We briefly discuss
George Rivara‘s essay from Quakerism in 2001. George thought that the ideas of social and spiritual
responsibility were kind of far-fetched and not particularly pragmatic. Later in the essay though, he said
that they‘re the only way we will survive. He wrote, ―If Quakers don‘t do it, who will?‖

Next, we read from The Eternal Promise by Thomas Kelly, Chapter 4 Religion for this distraught world.
We discuss the meaning of the words. We talk about people like Charles Dickens or Upton Sinclair who
wrote about the struggles of the poor eloquently. Where did their passion come from?

We talk about Matt Grimes‘ and Jesse Lamas‘ understanding of the power of love. If love is the most
powerful force, then it can overcome any evil. Do we really buy that? What about people who call
themselves religious zealots? Osama Bin Laden sells himself as a religious prophet but he believes the
ultimate power is in the hands of men with weapons. Does that mean the Osama Bin Laden worships
weapons over love? Is that religion?

Tell the story about Greystone Bakery. Buddhist owner, Christian neighborhood. All employees are
ex-offenders and addicts. They are paid a decent wage and are expected to improve. They can move up
in the company and employees tend to move on to bigger and better jobs.

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. – MLK

We discuss the bullying class the teachers took at the beginning of the year and how it relates to a lack of
benevolence. The solution starts with the onlookers, not the perpetrators or the victims.

Next, we talk about religion in the role of the person helping. We discuss several relief agencies and
how they incorporate G-d into their work including: AFSC, FCNL, The Catholic Worker, Alcoholics
Anonymous, Christian Aid, Habitat for the Humanity, Jubilee Network, Unitarian Universalists for a Just
Economy, Mennonite Committee on Social Justice, Jewish Social Justice Network, Bread for the World,
National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice, Long Island Council of Churches.

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Religion based relief agencies, secular agencies. What‘s the difference?

Materials needed

The Eternal Promise, Savage Inequities and Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist, The Jungle.

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Solutions for poverty                                                                                                      Section 3

Lessons 15. Poverty
James Yarsky

Begin with silent worship.

What is noblesse oblige?

What is Free The Children? Who started it and why?

The FOX NEWS banner. 24 hours a day it reads Terror Alert High. We talk about Brian Lehrer‘s idea
to post the number of children dying from preventable diseases every day (15,000) as a 24 hour banner.
What effect do the two banner have on you?

Where are all of you headed and how will you deal with that power? Is there such a thing as ―noblesse
oblige‖? What is the difference between a company that wants to make as much fast money as possible
and a company that patiently builds it‘s customer base, treats its workers right and stands behind their

Does this formula work for any profession?:
   Investment banking
    give examples of careless investing
       quick money making schemes
       investing in companies that treat their work force terribly
   Journalism
    what happens when someone writes story to make a deadline?
    what happens when someone writes a story for accuracy?
    is it possible to do both every time?
   Carpentry
    who‘s going to hire a carpenter after their structures start falling apart in 5 years?
    why would a patient, more expensive carpenter make more money in the long run?
   Medicine
    no explanation necessary I hope

Why were labor unions so important when they first starting popping up? What happened to unions?
Why haven‘t they learned to create symbiotic relationships with management? Is that necessary for a
company and work force to survive for a long time?

Materials needed

Roger and Me.

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Solutions for poverty                                                                                                  Section 3

Lesson 16. Poverty
James Yarsky

Begin with silent worship.

International Poverty Relief Agencies (NGOs)

We talk about CARE, FTC, World Hunger Year, UNICEF (United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization) and other agencies related in student papers. What did the students like about
their efforts?

Your government in action

President Johnson’s War on Poverty

―The War on Poverty, declared in the State of the Union address on Jan. 8, 1964, was the attempt of
President Lyndon B. Johnson to break the cycle of poverty affecting nearly 35 million Americans.
Economic expansion had reduced unemployment to 5.3 percent, but projections showed that 25 percent
of young blacks were destined for a life of irregular employment. Johnson, having enacted the modest
antipoverty program of his predecessor, John F. Kennedy, wanted his own, and directed Sargent Shriver
to steer the development and passage of an omnibus bill.

―Rejecting an alternative of direct subsidies, the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, signed into law by
Johnson on Aug. 20, 1964, attempted to prepare the poor for successful competition in an expanding
economy. It combined new and existing programs of services by professionals -- VISTA, Neighborhood
Youth Corps, Job Corps, College Work Study, and Head Start--with the novel Community Action
Programs (CAP), designed to involve recipients with ‗maximum feasible participation.‘ Shriver's Office
of Economic Opportunity (OEO) was given authority to run its own programs and supervise related
agencies. Funding for OEO, which was never adequate, was further reduced as spending for the
Vietnam War increased. Thus, an extended structure, poorly financed, frustrated the rising expectations
of the poor.‖ – text from Johnson‘s webite

What does the class make of a war on poverty?

Head Start

―Head Start and Early Head Start are comprehensive child development programs which serve children
from birth to age 5, pregnant women, and their families. They are child-focused programs and have the
overall goal of increasing the school readiness of young children in low-income families.

―The Head Start program is administered by the Head Start Bureau, the Administration on Children,
Youth and Families (ACYF), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Department of Health
and Human Services (DHHS). Grants are awarded by the ACF Regional Offices and the Head Start
Bureau's American Indian and Migrant Program Branches directly to local public agencies, private

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organizations, Indian Tribes and school systems for the purpose of operating Head Start programs at the
community level.

―The Head Start program has a long tradition of delivering comprehensive and high quality services
designed to foster healthy development in low-income children. Head Start grantee and delegate
agencies provide a range of individualized services in the areas of education and early childhood
development; medical, dental, and mental health; nutrition; and parent involvement. In addition, the
entire range of Head Start services are responsive and appropriate to each child's and family's
developmental, ethnic, cultural, and linguistic heritage and experience.

―All Head Start programs must adhere to Program Performance Standards. The Head Start Program
Performance Standards define the services that Head Start Programs are to provide to the children and
families they serve. They constitute the expectations and requirements that Head Start grantees must
meet. They are designed to ensure that the Head Start goals and objectives are implemented
successfully, that the Head Start philosophy continues to thrive, and that all grantee and delegate
agencies maintain the highest possible quality in the provision of Head Start services. For more
information please refer to the: current Head Start Statistical Fact Sheet or contact the Head Start
Information and Publication Center.‖ – text from Head Start website.

Good idea, right?

HUD/Tenant Organizations
   Why is it hard to clean up after someone even if you know it will make the world a better place
   Make a correlation between HUD/Tenant Organizations and the outdoor ed trip.

Explain the relationship between Jack Kemp and Bertha Gilkey

Why would someone call a housing project a pile of poor people?

Bertha Gilkey's tenant organizing is not just limited to St. Louis. For more than 10 years, she's been
traveling to the Cabrini-Green Housing Project in Chicago, one of the largest and most notorious in the
country. Of all the high-rise buildings in the complex, all but one are plagued by drugs and gang
violence. The one building that's different is at 1230 North Burling. In 1985 its residents decided they'd
had enough.

It started off with volunteers at 1230 North Burling. Ten women took over the lobbies and secured them
for 24 hours. They dared the gangs to come in. They had no doors, front or back. They just sat there.
They had no guns. They had nothing but the will, the sheer will, that they were going to take back
control of their community. In 1992, the tenant management corporation signed a management contract
with the Chicago Housing Authority or CHA. Bertha continues to work with these tenant leaders as a
consultant. ‗Groups have to have ongoing training in order for them to be able to move from one level to
another.‘ Says Bertha Gilkey, ‗Because the laws are constantly changing. And they need ongoing
training just to understand the technical bureaucratic documents that they have to use.‘‖ – text from a
HUD linked site

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HUD’s Current Secretary, Mel Martinez

HUD was born in 1965, but its history extends back to the National Housing Act of 1934. Learn more
about our mission and our rich past.

Congressional and Presidential actions establishing major HUD-related programs

   1937 U.S. Housing Act of 1937
   1965 Department of Housing and Urban Development Act of 1965 creates HUD as Cabinet-level
   1966 Robert C. Weaver becomes the first HUD Secretary, January 18.
   1968 Riots in major cities follow assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Civil Rights Act of
    1968 (also known as the Fair Housing Act) outlaws most housing discrimination, gives HUD
    enforcement responsibility. Housing Act of 1968 establishes Government National Mortgage
    Association (Ginnie Mae) to expand availability of mortgage funds for moderate income families
    using government guaranteed mortgage-backed securities.
   1969 Robert C. Wood receives recess appointment as HUD Secretary, January 7. George C. Romney
    is appointed HUD Secretary by President Richard M. Nixon, January 22.
   1970 Housing and Urban Development Act of 1970 introduces Federal Experimental Housing
    Allowance Program and Community Development Corporation.
   1972 Pruitt-Igoe public housing buildings in St. Louis are demolished.
   1973 President Nixon declares moratorium on housing and community development assistance.
    James T. Lynn becomes HUD Secretary, February 2.
   1974 Housing and Community Development Act consolidates programs into Community
    Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. Section 8 tenant-based certificates increase low-income
    tenants' choice of housing. Gerald R. Ford becomes president following Nixon's resignation.
   1975 Carla A. Hills is appointed HUD Secretary, March 10.
   1977 Patricia R. Harris is appointed HUD Secretary by President James E. Carter, January 23. Urban
    Development Action Grants (UDAG) give distressed communities funds for residential or
    nonresidential use.
   1979 Moon Landrieu becomes HUD Secretary, September 24. Inflation hits 19 percent, seriously
    impacting homebuying and home mortgage loans.
   1980 Depository Institutions' Deregulation and Monetary Control Act of 1980 changes rules
    governing thrift institutions, expands alternative mortgages.
   1981 Samuel R. Pierce Jr. is appointed HUD Secretary by President Ronald W. Reagan, January 23.
    Interest rates for FHA-insured mortgages peak at 15.17 percent (up from 7 percent in 1972).
   1983 Housing and Urban-Rural Recovery Act of 1983 begins Housing Development Action Grant
    and Rental Rehabilitation programs.
   1987 Stewart B. McKinney Act sets up programs to help communities deal with homelessness.
   1988 Indian Housing Act gives HUD new responsibilities for housing needs of Native Americans
    and Alaskan Indians. Housing and Community Development Act allows sale of public housing to

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    resident management corporations. Fair Housing Amendments Act makes it easier for victims of
    discrimination to sue, stiffens penalties for offenders.
   1989 Jack F. Kemp is appointed HUD Secretary by President George W. Bush, February 13.
    Financial Institutions' Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act bails out failing thrift institutions.
   1990 Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing Act emphasizes homeownership and tenant-
    based assistance, launches HOME housing block grant. Low-Income Housing Preservation and
    Residential Homeownership Act of 1990 fortifies Federal commitment to preservation of -assisted
    low-income, multifamily housing.
   1992 Federal Housing Enterprises' Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992 creates HUD Office
    of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight to provide public oversight of FNMA and Federal Rome
    Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac).
   1993 Henry G. Cisneros is named Secretary of HUD by President William J. Clinton, January 22.
    Empowerment Zone and Enterprise Community program becomes law as part of the Omnibus
    Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993.
   1995 "Blueprint for Reinvention of HUD" proposes sweeping changes in public housing reform and
    FHA, consolidation of other programs into three block grants.
   1996 Homeownership totals 66.3 million American households, the largest number ever.
   1997 Andrew M. Cuomo is named by President Clinton to be Secretary of Housing and Urban
    Development, the first appointment ever from within the Department.
   1998 HUD opens Enforcement Center to take action against HUD-assisted multifamily property
    owners and other HUD fund recipients who violate laws and regulations. Congress approves Public
    Housing reforms to reduce segregation by race and income, encourage and reward work, bring more
    working families into public housing, and increase the availability of subsidized housing for very
    poor families.
   2000 America's homeownership rate reaches a new record-high of 67.7 percent in the third quarter of
    2000. A total of 71.6 million American families own their homes - more than at any time in
    American history.
   2001 Mel Martinez, named by President George W. Bush to be Secretary of Housing and Urban
    Development, is unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate on January 23, 2001.


A decent, safe, and sanitary home and suitable living environment for every American
   Creating opportunities for homeownership
   Providing housing assistance for low-income persons
   Working to create, rehabilitate and maintain the nation's affordable housing
   Enforcing the nation's fair housing laws
   Helping the homeless
   Spurring economic growth in distressed neighborhoods
   Helping local communities meet their development needs

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The hook/motivation

How government can and does help.

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Lesson 17. Poverty
James Yarsky

Begin with silent worship.

We create a mock society. I assign students roles as politicians, business leaders, laborers, religious
leaders, poverty stricken, convicts. The class is divided accordingly. Each student holds on to their role
for several lessons.

Line up
                Government          Religious Leaders   Labor                       Poverty stricken               Professionals
B block         Governor            Rabbi               Head USW                    Resident Activist              Journalist
Quaker Valley   Campaign Mgr        Baptist Min         Freelance Welder            On the fence                   Doctor
                Mayor Town X        Father              USW members                 Bitter                         Teacher
                Lawyer Will                                                         Homeless
B block         Governor            Rabbi               Head USW                    Resident Activist              Journalist
Quaker Valley   Campaign Mgr        Baptist Min         Freelance Welder            On the fence                   Doctor
                Mayor Town X        Father              USW members                 Bitter                         Teacher
                Lawyer Will                                                         Homeless

Scenario 1
    It‘s an election year. Big business is crucial to the governor‘s reelection campaign. The business
     leaders are lobbying for another sewage treatment plant in poor neighborhood X. Their argument is
     convincing and well reasoned. (i.e. you can‘t put a sewage treatment plant in a mid – high income
     neighborhood because the residents will vote you out, move to another town and poor people will be
     the only ones to move in because property values have plummeted.)
    The labor unions are for the construction because they want to get their laid off workforce back on
     the job.
    Religious leaders and poor people are complaining. They are asking why the only place these
     treatment plants surface is in poor neighborhoods. They are lobbying, protesting and getting
     themselves on tv.
    Convicts are reading newspapers and seeing what‘s happening in their old communities. They have
     nothing but time. What are they going to do with it?

Materials needed

Can we learn to commit and make the roles as realistic as possible? How?

Meeting with Andrew Geha.
    Make the atmosphere as game-ish as possible
    Pattern it after Sim-City a little
    If there is a tangible goal for the students they will take the process more seriously
    The problem is getting them to relate to their roles and how they fit into society

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   Don‘t keep secrets
   Help them as much as possible without giving them the answer

The hook/motivation

Committing to the process of changing the tide.

Discovery & application

The issue at hand is that no avoidable suffering is acceptable. Sharing is the answer. If a plant exists in
a part of town where there are children, that is unacceptable. In fact, it is unacceptable to build a plant
wherever the fumes may cause physiological damage. The plant must go next to the other plant and the
city lines must be redrawn. How do we convince citizens that they must make room for this new
addition to the population?
   Heather: The union will not build the plant unless it is deemed safe. If not, the union will picket the
    site and not do the work. We understand that we are jeopardizing our livelihoods and our homes but
    we will not contribute to suffering of poor people because we may end up poor ourselves.
   Rob. We have to figure out how to spread this out. Why aren‘t the rich folks doing their part? Why
    is it acceptable for them to dump their pollution on poor people?
   Tiffany: Sick children are sick children. We have to stop thinking of this problem as a class problem
    and look at it a health issue.
   Daniel. Since the union and the poor people have offered up their loyalty to one another, I will work
    with them. I will register voters and show them how the democratic process can serve them.
   Alexandra and Natalie – as the CEOs of the investment bank and real estate partners we believe it is
    unethical to build when we know kids will die.
   Annie. I‘m so sick of people assuming that rich people will not sacrifice land or money to help
    people who are in dire need.
   Me. You’ll never get people to agree to this? It‘s about leadership. Think about it, our government
    gets people to sacrifice their own sons and daughters for war efforts all the time. What makes you
    think they won‘t sacrifice land for the common good?

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Section 4

Homelessness and community service

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Homelessness and community service                                                                                       Section 4

Lessons 18. Poverty
James Yarsky

Begin with silent worship.

YSOP permission slips.

In the Vagina Monologues, Eve Ensler interviews hundreds of homeless women. Only one of them was
not sexually assaulted. What do we think is the correlation drawn here? Does this fact change your
perception of homeless women?

Next, we talk about the Punch in the abstract. How much homelessness can be blamed on 10 second
events like the one described in the book. We talk about how some people seem more able to handle the
aftermath of such events than others. Many struggle with their events to the point where they keep
accumulating more bad events.

We talk about Louie.

I read Isaiah 53. The students listen to the description of the suffering servant. How can a servant be a
leader? What is moral leadership? Do I feel like homeless people are suffering for me? Can Louie
happen to anyone?

Materials needed

The Bible. Isaiah 53

Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2For he
grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that
we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 3He was despised and
rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide
their faces he was despised, and we held him of no account.

4 Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck
down by God, and afflicted. 5But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed. 6All we like sheep
have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us
all. 7He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the
slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 8By a
perversion of justice he was taken away. Who could have imagined his future? For he was cut off from
the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people. 9They made his grave with the wicked
and his tomb with the rich, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him with pain. When you make his life an offering for sin,
he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days; through him the will of the LORD shall prosper.
11Out of his anguish he shall see light; he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge. The righteous

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one, my servant, shall make many righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. 12Therefore I will allot
him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out himself
to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession
for the transgressors.

Materials needed

Isaiah 53 ―The Punch‖, ―Vagina Monologues‖

The hook/motivation

Who are the suffering servants?


Read the column below. Write a two page essay about what you think needs to be done. I believe
the answer to problems like this exist in our classroom. Think about what you’ve learned, give me
advice. Tell me how to change the world.

Throughout this year, I worked closely with some homeless people in New York City. I sat down with
several of these folks and we talked about their lives and how they came to find themselves in their
predicaments. For some, these predicaments stretched out over many, many years.

When they're in a big group, they reminisce. Some of these guys talk about their time in prison like other
people talk about an old school or the war or the old neighborhood. Some of them talk about their kids.
Many homeless people are parents. Some of them carry their kids in tow; others simply haven't seen their
kids in a long, long time.

About a month ago, I interviewed a homeless fella in a shelter near midtown Manhattan. It was a very
strange experience. I'd known this man for a few months. During the interview, I listened closely as he
told me about his life. It was colorful, funny and terribly sad. Things went wrong. He married "the wrong
woman." The marriage turned sour. Things got dangerous during the marriage. The two of them had a
son. She left. She came back. She left. He ended up in jail. He was released. He went into the army. It
wasn't that rapid fire of course, but I only have so many words for this column. Anyway, he'd been
homeless for years and years.

This man is smart. He's charming and compassionate. He also doesn't know who he is. I don't think he's
really examined his life in decades. I think his life is a living metaphor for what's going on his mind. His
life is a mess, so he doesn't have to think about what he's done. He doesn't have to think about where his
son is, because he's very busy surviving. He doesn't want to think. Thinking leads to deep despair.
Things got desperate while he told me his story.

There are about 40,000 homeless people in the temporary shelter system in New York City. Tens of
thousands more are doubled up in single-family dwellings then shuffled around from home to home. A
lot of these people are kids. They often can't get to school because they spend most nights shuttling from
one shelter to another. Their parents are doing everything right to get them placed in the system, but they
still can't manage to get their kids into a school, because the system moves them around so much.
Imagine trying to raise your kids while scrambling around for a temporary home—for years.

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For some horrible and bizarre reasons, I was a homeless parent for a while. I didn't have my daughter
with me, because she was with her mom in a studio apartment in Brooklyn. I paid their bills and slept on
the subway. I knew exactly what I was doing out there. I was trying to pay for failing in my marriage. I
didn't care about anything except making sure my daughter was fed and had a home. After a while, I got
lucky. A friend rescued me. With his help, I found a place to stay, changed my life and eventually lived
with my daughter in that studio apartment in Brooklyn.

What would have happened to my daughter if I ended up homeless for good? I can't even imagine. The
two of us are very close. We've had profound affects on one another. If I was still out there, sleeping on
the F train, who knows what kind of a relationship we'd have had. The embarrassment and the
humiliation of it all would have been staggering.

Something that I've noticed about many people who mess up as badly as I did is that they spend a lot of
time treating themselves horribly. If they hurt someone they love, they usually know it. Sometimes, they
hide their shame in things like booze, drugs, abuse or making themselves homeless. They may never see
their children again. It's a very efficient system that leads to an unhappy end for everyone.

Leaving your children like this leads to an extraordinary amount of hatred. This hatred serves a purpose
when the children are young. It keeps them going. They feed off it. They play that famous mantra in their
heads: "I will never end up like them." Inevitably, that kind of hatred turns to poison. As evidence of
this, many of us end up exactly like them. We think we have what it takes to break the terrible mold, but
we fall short because we hang on to the hate as if it's something pure and good.

So, we have to forgive them, even if they bailed on us. Even if we haven't seen them since we were six.
We have to have compassion for them because what they are doing to themselves is far worse than any
revenge scenario you could possibly plan. Trust me, I know.

Now, I'm not saying you have to invite them over for dinner, I'm just saying that you have to let go of
your hate. Take your time. Try it for five minutes tomorrow. See how it makes you feel. One of my
favorite quotes is by Sister Helen Prejean in Dead Man Walking. She says, "Forgiveness is never easy.
Each day it must be prayed for and struggled for and won."

We can win this.

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Lesson 19. Poverty
James Yarsky

Begin with silent worship.

Could 10 second events lead to a calling? We talk about events that changed people for the better. Class
discussions, art, home life, bearing witness to something terrible or extraordinary. Can anyone in class
recall a story of someone who changed their lives radically for the better? What happened?

Do you have what it takes to change the world? To what degree? Does a leader have to emerge from the
poorest part of society before they‘re taken seriously.

YSOP permission slips

Are their people who choose poverty and homelessness? Why would they choose poverty? What are
they doing?


This distinction between the sangha and the laity provides the karmic "grease" that keeps the wheels of
Buddhism running. The monks take a vow of poverty, renouncing the ownership of possessions. They
receive their food through daily begging. The lay people accept this practice and give food to the monks,
and support them in other ways. In this way, the lay people earn merit (good karma). In turn, the monks
provide the laity with religious services, such as officiating at celebrations of birthdays and marriages,
giving religious guidance, and so on. This earns the monks merit. As Buddhism spread and became
popular, more wealthy people were attracted to it, including kings. Such people gave from their
enormous resources, some building large and lavish monasteries, endowing food supplies, giving statues
and other objects of precious metals, and so on.

The thief

              Left it behind–

                             The moon at the window

Les Miserables

"Teach the ignorant as much as you can; society is guilty in not providing universal free education, and it
must answer for the night it produces. If the soul is left in darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty
one is not he who commits the sin, but the one who causes the darkness."

Priests, nuns, Buddhist monks, St Francis, Mother Theresa,

In the United States today there are an estimated 82,000 women (women religious), 9,000 brothers and
14,000 priests in religious orders who live the consecrated life. Most of them work in schools, parishes
and diocesan institutions and have taken vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

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The person who takes a vow of poverty chooses to share all in common rather than have personal
ownership of material goods. "Poverty" testifies to dependence upon God as the source of all gifts and
solidarity with others, especially the poor. Those religious with a vow of poverty connect with the poor,
work with them and speak about their needs and concerns. Their vow of poverty questions contemporary
materialism and consumerism.


Choosing Hunger Awareness Day


The attraction of the short-term gain encourages many individuals to choose poverty for life. One study
estimated that one-sixth of aid recipients could have worked but chose leisure and the other benefits of
being supported by tax dollars instead. (5) An elaborate study involving almost 9,000 people
documented the deleterious results of a guaranteed income. One group of subjects, who served as
controls, received no benefits. An experimental group was told everyone would be given enough money
to bring total individual income to a specified target amount. Those in the experimental group who
worked would receive less money than those who didn't, so everyone would have the same income for
three consecutive years.

When the control and experimental groups were compared, the results were unequivocal. Young men
who stayed unmarried throughout the experiment worked 43% less when income was guaranteed. These
young men jeopardized their future earnings by getting less work experience than their peers. Wives in
the experimental group cut their hours by 20%, and their husbands reduced their work week by 9%. If a
female head of household lost her job, it took over a year for her to find a new one if she was receiving
guaranteed income. Her counterpart in the control group found new employment in less than half the
time. (6) Clearly, welfare payments decreased the incentive to work, especially for individuals with no
family responsibilities.

Divorce rates went up by 36-84% for most couples in the experimental group. Evidently, part of what
binds couples together is the economic benefits of a family unit. Guaranteed incomes made it easier to
say good-bye. In one group, couples thought that their welfare payments would be stopped if they
separated. As a result, divorce rates in that group were comparable to those of the controls. (7) Clearly,
people adjusted their behavior to adapt to income guarantees.

As a result, a national debate has begun. On one side are those who argue that welfare is beneficial and
benign, helping people who are in poverty because of external circumstances over which they have no
control. On the other are those who argue that welfare is encouraging millions to choose poverty because
our generous welfare system makes it more attractive than work.

This study argues that there is some truth on both sides of the debate. Welfare does indeed help people
who fall into poverty through no fault of their own. At the same time, there is overwhelming evidence
that the welfare system encourages dependency, the breakup of families and the emergence of single-
parent households.

The hook/motivation

What kind of person chooses poverty as a lifestyle or learning tool?

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Lessons 20. Poverty
James Yarsky

Begin with silent worship.

What is a home? I relate a staff member‘s story about her home life. She lived in a loving environment.
Her folks were crazy about each other. They didn‘t have much but it didn‘t matter. She wanted saddle
shoes. Her Dad told her if they bought them they would have to sacrifice something else (like food).
She understood. She went out, told her folks they couldn‘t afford them and that was that. This was a
source of embarrassment to her father but to her it was no big deal.

As she got older she wanted to pattern her life after her folks. She did. Years after she was married, her
husband became a big success. His success changed him. She stayed the same. It became a struggle.
All she wanted was a safe home and filled with love. Everyone else in the house wanted status.
Everyone else. Why not her?

My story. Home was always a place to hang my hat until Kathleen. My daughter Cait and I lived in a
studio apartment in Brooklyn. Our neighborhood was our home. We were outside most of the time.
When Kathleen and I got married it was a hard adjustment for me because she is very much a ―home‖
person. For the first time in my life I started recognizing the value of a home. We moved into a kind-of
run down cottage in Huntington. I started to look forward to being home. Cait did too. How did that

How do we define ―home‖?

Materials needed

Poverty, Opposing Viewpoints

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Homelessness and community service                                                                                      Section 4

Lesson 21. Poverty
James Yarsky

Begin with silent worship.

YSOP final plans.

Tax cuts and government in your teenage years.

What can someone your age do politically? How much faith do you have in the political process of the
United States? Is it a moral responsibility to vote? Why is it we are ready to kill and die for Democracy
but we don‘t know who is running for office in our districts? What is our political responsibility to the
homeless, the poor, the middle class and all Americans?

In what ways have we seen the government help people? Do those accomplishments make you feel like
the government is for, or and by the people? Are you the government?

We briefly discuss Oliver Sachs and how he writes about medicine.
   We talk about Encephalitis, Autism, Tourettes Syndrome, etc. and how Sachs writes about them
    Ask not what disease the person has, but rather what person the disease has. –William Osler, via
       Oliver Sachs (ask for testimonials from the class)
   Why is it that diseases manifest themselves differently from one person to another?
   Is physiology like sociology?
   Can you describe poverty similarly?
    In other words – ask not what poverty-related problem the person has, but rather what person the
        poverty-related problem has.
   Why is it that as smart as Cornell West is, the best advice he could give that kid was to stay strong
    and pray?

How is the Poverty book like a bad medical journal? Is there a way in which the Poverty book
overcomes this problem?

Materials needed

Oliver Sachs books

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Homelessness and community service                                                                                     Section 4

Lesson 22. Poverty
James Yarsky

Begin with silent worship.

What can we do as a school? What does FA do as a school? What do we think is most successful? Do
they like the YSOP idea? The Poverty class? The Community Service Department? Do they know how
that department works? Do they know what‘s available? Do they think these efforts make an impact on
the big picture?

What about Quakerism? Is Quakerism a major component in the school‘s efforts? What did we think
about the Diversity Club‘s film. (Is it hard to act poor/rich. Why did that woman take lessons on how to
act wealthy?) Have the students ever heard of genteel poverty? (Waiting for reference material from
Marianne). What about Paul Sherman‘s Quaker card idea?

Where do the students think the school could use improvement? What can we do as a class?

Do we like the idea of letter writing: Newark students, YSOP pals, prison system?

What about agricultural poverty? Should this be a major component of the class? Should we talk about
the events that lead up to the Dust Bowl? What were its effects and aftermath?

The hook/motivation

What is the role of the school or individual students in the problem of poverty? Does Friends Academy
do enough. Is this too big a challenge?

Discovery & application

Most students seemed very pleased with the efforts of Friends Academy. They spoke glowingly of the
programs offered.

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Homelessness and community service                                                                                       Section 4

Lesson 23. Poverty
James Yarsky

Begin with silent worship.

YSOP recap.

Students discuss the first and second day of YSOP.

We discuss the experience at the YSOP camp. First day. We try and focus on the experiences we had on
Thursday. What was it like to be with people you knew were homeless? What were your impressions of
these people? Could you relate to them?

We mull over the difference of watching folks dedicate their lives to making a difference and connecting
personally with the folks who are in dire straights. What happens to people who decide to make that
level of dedication? Can any of the students imagine what it would take for them to get to that point?

Is this kind of dedication akin to the level of commitment to becoming a priest or a rabbi?

The hook/motivation

Who makes the call to dedicate their lives to helping?

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Homelessness and community service                                                                                        Section 4

Lesson 24. Poverty
James Yarsky

Begin with silent worship.

Class review. Below.

Please respond honestly to the following questions. Thanks for your time.

1.   The most interesting/educational assignment in this class was…

2.   The least interesting/educational assignment in this class was…

3.   I learned something from writing and researching the essay assignments: ____ Yes ____ No

     If yes, what did you learn?

     If no, why didn‘t you learn?

4.   One thing I could do to make the class better is…

5.   One thing Mr Yarsky could do to make the class better is…

6.   Answer the following questions with 1, strongly agree; 2, agree; 3, disagree; 4, strongly disagree.

     I thought the format of the class was successful (discussion, writing, group projects, movies, etc)
     1         2              3              4

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Homelessness and community service                                                                                        Section 4

    I think the teachers‘ style was appropriate for the class
    1          2              3             4

    I think we had the right number of assignments for this course
    1         2              3             4

    I feel like the assignments added to/reinforced my understanding of ideas expressed in this course
    1           2            3              4

    The assignment I liked most was:… because

    The assignments I found the least value in was:… because


    I think this class gave me a comprehensive view of the issues surrounding poverty and homelessness
    1          2             3            4              Comments

    I would have liked to have spent more time discussing/reading about:

    This class made me think and challenged some of my previous assumptions
    1         2            3             4            Comments

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Homelessness and community service                                                                                         Section 4

     I found the YSOP trip to be an integral part of this course
     1         2             3              4               Comments

     The part of the course that had the largest impact on me was:…because

7.   Extra comments:

     Overall, the thing I would like to see changed/improved the most about this course would be:

     Overall, what I liked the most about this course was:

     Additional comments, issues not covered in this evaluation:

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