What Post Was That: Autodidact in Poverty? September 1, 2014 5:00 PM   Subscribe

Please help me find this post: An opinion piece from a larger publication about what the author would do if they were a poor (black?) kid, and wanted a good education. The author suggested they'd teach themselves using something like Khan Academy or other opencourseware.

I think race was mentioned, but I could be conflating other discussions, so I'm not positive. I also think it was in this past year, but it could be a little older than that. All I remember was the author was short-sighted about how someone growing up in poverty might be able to give themselves a better eduction, while also failing to understand some of the realities of being poor.
posted by [insert clever name here] to MetaFilter-Related at 5:00 PM (22 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

Oh geez. THAT guy.

Here's the article -- If I Were A Poor Black Kid

And here's the resulting MetaFilter post -- Daidle daidle deedle daidle dum
posted by kimberussell at 5:11 PM on September 1, 2014 [4 favorites]


Do poor black kids have internet access?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:22 PM on September 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Thanks! That was exactly it.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 6:28 PM on September 1, 2014


Do poor black kids have internet access?

The ones who read Forbes do.
posted by pompomtom at 6:35 PM on September 1, 2014 [14 favorites]


Chocolate Pickle — many do, through their libraries. And now maybe even more through their phones, which are increasingly "smart". I think the real question is how useful and persistent that access is. For example, you're time limited at the library, and have to go out of your way to get there. Smart phones often can't make good use of educational resources online which aren't optimized for mobile, and then of course many don't have a very extensive data plan.

More importantly, however, are the real issues that someone without a background in poverty will be unable to understand. The sort of stress that a youth in poverty experiences will actually hamper normal mental functioning. So even if a student is given a laptop and access the the Internet somehow, they are not going to be able to make the same use of it as someone from suburbia might.

Odds are good, also, that a child growing up in poverty doesn't have the same parental resources to fall back on. His or her parents might not have the education necessary to help them, or may be too busy working, or may suffer from exactly the sort of problems that present themselves when you are basically living in perpetual crisis mode.

Poor black kids aren't just merely on a lower part of the proverbial "level playing field" — they're over in the pool treading water. They must make a remarkable amount of effort just to get to the point that the average upper-middle class person attains merely by existing and not drinking or getting high too much during their high school years.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:39 PM on September 1, 2014 [2 favorites]




Do poor black kids have internet access?

I'm going to keep race out of it, but families with reduced incomes have access to internet for $10 monthly.

If a kid has free or reduced lunch, a flyer is sent home to inform their families about these programs.

What my students don't have are computers, but more and more districts are getting tech grants and giving kids laptops or pads for the school year, so there are more opportunities for low-income students to have internet/computer access over a school year.
posted by kinetic at 2:55 AM on September 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


kinetic: "I'm going to keep race out of it, but families with reduced incomes have access to internet for $10 monthly.

If a kid has free or reduced lunch, a flyer is sent home to inform their families about these programs.
"

The Comcast version of the program is apparently harder to access than it should be.
Comcast had to create the $10-per-month Internet Essentials program in order to secure approval of its acquisition of NBCUniversal in 2011. About 300,000 households containing 1.2 million people nationwide have gotten cheap Internet service as a result, but the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) complains that the signup process is riddled with problems, a charge Comcast denies.

"Comcast makes the sign-up process long and cumbersome," CETF claimed. "The application process often takes 2-3 months, far too long for customers who are skeptical about the product in the first place, and have other pressing demands on their budgets. The waiting period between the initial call to Comcast and the CIE [Comcast Internet Essentials] application arriving in the mail can stretch 8-12 weeks, if it comes at all. After submitting the application, another 2-4 weeks elapse before the equipment arrives. Many low-income residents do not have Social Security Numbers (SSNs) and are required to travel long distances to verify their identities because Comcast has closed many of its regional offices. Recently, some potential subscribers with SSNs were rejected over the phone and told they had to visit a Comcast office. Comcast has a pilot effort in Florida that should be expanded to allow customers to fax or e-mail photocopied IDs as proof of identification."
posted by zamboni at 7:08 AM on September 2, 2014 [6 favorites]


In the community where I work, flyers about a Comcast-sponsored cheap-broadband event were distributed to school kids on the Thursday before the Saturday event. The event ran from 10-2, and was hosted at a convention-center-type place that's on the other side of town and not served by public transportation.

And while ten bucks a month doesn't sound like much, Comcast is also very happy to sell you a $150 computer while you're there. Oh, and if you have an old balance or a cable box that never got returned? They'd like to have a word with you about that as well.
posted by box at 7:26 AM on September 2, 2014 [4 favorites]


Pope Guilty: An Open Letter To A Starving Child

That made me think of SNL's Outrageous Clown Squad: "What's up with islands? Get more land! What's up with deserts? Get less sand!"

What's up with starving people? Eat more food! What's up with dumb people? Read more books!
posted by filthy light thief at 7:33 AM on September 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


zamboni: Comcast has a pilot effort in Florida that should be expanded to allow customers to fax or e-mail photocopied IDs as proof of identification.

Hey, you want inexpensive internet access? Just send us proof of ID via the internet! (And do they really want people to photocopy their ID, then scan that photocopy, and attach that image to an email? Or do they mean "scanned IDs"?)

I realize that there are many means by which to have email access, including a smart phone, a school computer or a computer at a public library, but it seems like some subtle form of mockery to ask people to email a copy of their ID. There are so many ways that are better to go about this, like setting up a booth where people shop in the evenings and weekends.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:40 AM on September 2, 2014


That's like the bumper sticker: "Illiterate? Write for our free brochure!"
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:54 AM on September 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


filthy light thief: "I realize that there are many means by which to have email access, including a smart phone, a school computer or a computer at a public library, but it seems like some subtle form of mockery to ask people to email a copy of their ID. There are so many ways that are better to go about this, like setting up a booth where people shop in the evenings and weekends."

Comcast could have been doing that already. They weren't. Even if they were mandated do more community outreach, you're now relying on their good judgement to determine when and where to place booths, which sounds like a losing bet to me- see box's comment.

They've improved since CETF started their campaign- focusing on "schools where 100 percent of students receive a free lunch through the National School Lunch Program", offering amnesty for year old debts, and offering six months free access. That said, require them to accept applications and ID by email, and you'll reach a lot more people. Social workers, community organizers and librarians can set up booths if they want to, and any eligible person who knows someone with a smartphone can sign up.
posted by zamboni at 11:33 AM on September 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh, and if you have an old balance or a cable box that never got returned? They'd like to have a word with you about that as well.

This is huge. The small print on this is basically that if you still owe Comcast money because you couldn't pay your bill and in the past your account got shut off for non-payment, then you can't have access to this program. They are doing a shameful job (even for my low expectations of them) at actually solving this problem, a problem which their near-monopoly status is responsible for causing (in some places) in the first place. When people say that poverty is institutionalized, they mean exactly because of structural inequality that is reinforced by systems that don't care, exactly like this one. It's textbook.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 1:50 PM on September 2, 2014 [23 favorites]


Like I said above, Comcast says they're introducing a program "amnesty" on year old debts, which is at least something. I'm sure there's more fine print.
posted by zamboni at 1:59 PM on September 2, 2014


Comcast is literally the most evil company of all time.
A Manifesto by Potomac Avenue

Part 1: ARGGGGGGGGGGGHHGSHGDGHGHGAHGHAGSHGSHGASGHJWEGJHEG HJGE XA&* Y*A&Y XBVHA HJXGA HSG HXAGS

[To be Continued]
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:07 PM on September 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


I think that in order to get a job as a Comcast telephone rep, you have to pass a test proving that you have no fucks to give. Assuming that you can make it through the gauntlet that is their automated telephone tree to get to a living being, your chances of getting your probem taken care of with one call is about 0%. I pay about $200 a month. It's not hard to guess how little they care about low-profit customers.

I'm moving soon. I'm ditching Comcast in the process. Fuck them.
posted by double block and bleed at 4:53 PM on September 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


Jesus. Even with reliable Internet, how many people of whatever race or class have the gumption it takes to be autodidacts?

Danged few.

Hey poor person! The answer to your problem is to become one of the greatest people who ever lived!
posted by notyou at 8:07 PM on September 2, 2014 [7 favorites]


Fascinating stuff. I was asking about it because my husband and I were discussing technology that might help overcome education positions for the poor, and the thread I asked about was not so simple as building an app or website to train students. It can't be just about the tech, but the systemic issues.

I'm not surprised about Comcast. Hubby worked at Time Warner Cable, and they were always playing some shit to screw people. I even did a brief stint at Two, and it's not really about employees not giving a shit to start out. Rather, those that care are quickly weeded out because they have compasion, and compasion doesn't produce good call times or bonuses. For instance, I discovered that their call stat metrics at the time made it impossible to achieve an excellent score while taking state mandated breaks.

I was thinking about how some years ago, there were many proposals for government bodies (most local, some national) to provide free Internet service, and how the big guys disagreed and made it so towns couldn't provide free Internet access. Can you imagine how beneficial it would be if that actually happened? It wouldn't solve every problem, but would go a long way.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 9:11 PM on September 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


how the big guys disagreed and made it so towns couldn't provide free Internet access

That kind of shit has started being seriously nosed about in Australia as well. We have one of the world's best public broadcasters in the ABC, and since the "adults" got back in charge I've started to hear arguments about privatizing it put about without immediately being drowned in a howl of derisive laughter.

The argument seems to be that a publicly funded, publicly accountable broadcaster represents unfair competition to private commercial interests.

You read that right, folks. If you decide that you don't like any of the options on offer commercially, and you band together collectively to organize yourselves a superior replacement, you're competing unfairly. Bad public! No biscuit for you!
posted by flabdablet at 4:10 AM on September 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


If a kid has free or reduced lunch, a flyer is sent home to inform their families about these [reduced-price Internet access] programs.

Funny thing about timing: the middle school here in town handed out laptops (for running Google apps & email) to every kid before school even started, but the reduced-price lunch forms only came out -- via email! -- at the end of the first week.

Good luck using that new laptop to read the email about the Internet access without, you know, having Internet access for a while!
posted by wenestvedt at 9:41 AM on September 3, 2014


Comcast takes its monopoly and really gets exploitative with it. Oh, you need service after working hours? Too bad, so sad. What, you don't have someone who can stay home easily?
posted by corb at 11:33 AM on September 4, 2014


« Older everyone you disagree with isn't a rapist   |   2014 MeFi NHL Fantasy League is open Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments