Paul Soglin wonders whether we have a problem with the air or water in Milwaukee, apparently because he thinks I misread his post bewailing talk radio hosts like Mark Belling and Charlie Sykes for blaming the parents for dysfunctional inner city schools.
Now, personally, I cringe when I ever hear talk radio hosts and callers utter the phrase "where are the parents?", but the fact remains that the home environments of students in systems like MPS tends to be a really huge problems.
Paul says, but I wasn't talking about MPS, alluding, apparently, to a latter discussion in his post of Madison public schools. But, of course, Belling and Sykes work in Milwaukee and when they talk about dysfunctional homes and the schools, they are generally talking about MPS.
Paul takes issue with my contention that the social dysfunction that contributes to problems in the schools has increased while the general level of racism and economic deprivation has increased, noting that the percentage of students in poverty has increased in Madison and, he supposes (and I agree), Milwaukee.
But my point was not that poverty among public school students has declined. Given the wholesale abandonment of systems like MPS by the middle class that would be unlikely. It is that social dysfunction among what some people call the "underclass" has increased notwithstanding massive social spending and declining racism and a decline in absolute economic deprivation.
Paul argues that it is futile to blame parents without supporting "any recognized programs to break the cycle" as if there was is written somewhere in the annals of natural law a principle that all social problems must have a government solution. I'm all for anything that will restore public safety in the city and reverse the demise of marriage and the rise of a culture that disparages middle class values. What I am not optimistic about is the idea that government can do what your family will not and that prosperity can simply be created by public spending.