Criteria and Human Spaces

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

A couple of articles in the paper this morning illustrate why spatial analysis is important. They also reveal why we have to take a serious look at the criteria we target to solve problems. The first point comes from Leonard Pitts, who presents examples of conversations he had with people at YouthBuild U.S.A.

“Some parents,” Shardell Martin, a serious, sad-eyed 20-year-old, told me, “can’t even provide a stable home for their kids. They stress themselves, they’ll resort to drugs or violence or something. Something to fill that void. Some people just don’t have no hope.”

Then there’s this article about segregation

Trinity College researchers will issue a report today showing in stark numbers how little progress has been made toward creating magnet schools that draw a mix of white and non-white students, or toward getting the city’s mostly black and Hispanic student population into mostly white suburban schools.

The report shows that magnet schools, instead of drawing white suburban children into the city, have been more popular among black and Hispanic suburban families. It also found that gains under a program allowing city children to enroll in suburban schools have ground to a halt.

Here’s more:

State officials last week announced a tentative agreement with the Sheff plaintiffs to take aggressive new measures to speed the pace of integration. A proposed extension of the 2003 agreement calls on the state to spend millions of dollars more over the next five years to subsidize magnet schools, charter schools and other programs designed to bolster integration.

That tentative agreement, which also sets new racial quotas, requires approval by the legislature and the courts.

A crucial piece of the earlier agreement revolved around magnet schools, where officials hoped that specialty themes, such as arts or technology, would attract white suburban children into the city, joining black and Hispanic children from Hartford.

In Pitts’ article, Shardell Martin is making an observation about the environment. I don’t think that “this or that” kind of additional school or monetary support for them can make much of a difference without investment in the people who live in the community, such as Hartford’s. If the space was made more positive, people would integrate into the community organically, because they’d want to, and the people already there would have something they’d want to grow and keep. “Speeding the pace of integration” is not the right goal. Promoting positive environments is the way to go, the idea to push, the future to shape.

Why have the endeavors failed? People are forgetting human spaces and their promotion.


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