Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Assumptions about Improvement Programs

The daily news frequently includes negative information about black Americans. Articles report black on black violence, poverty, inadequate educational achievement, high incarceration rates, high school dropout rates, etc. Anyone that reads Your Black World knows this. These same news articles discuss different programs designed to do something positive about these problems. There seems to be a consensus among article authors and readers-that-comment, that these programs are the way to go.

This article, and others that follow, question the assumptions being made about these programs and the problems they are supposed to overcome. These articles are not designed to report but provide information to get readers to think about their assumptions and comment on them. Readers’ comments are more important than what I write. The information I provide is designed to question underlying assumptions being made about improvement programs. The information provided is designed to help readers think critically and participate in an online dialogue with other readers and me. We all want effective programs that truly help black Americans, but successful programs have to be based on valid assumptions otherwise they will not achieve desired outcomes.

I am a retired business/organizational consultant. Frequently when ask to consult with a large corporation that was in serious trouble, managers and employees always said they thought they were already doing all the right things. My most common work involved getting them to examine their assumptions about why they were doing what they were doing, nearly all of which was obviously not working. If I were not there, they would have continued to “do the same old same old” until they had to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Please allow an example of an underlying assumption that many think is true. But first I want to say that people often find the truth of this matter quite upsetting. In today’s world of political correctness we have to understand that people often find the truth to be inflammatory, regarding many matters. To get at the truth we sometimes must discuss issues that many find uncomfortable. But, if we don’t discuss them, we don’t get at the real issues and the result is we support programs that do not work.

My example follows: If a violent criminal has broken into your home and is attacking one of your loved ones and you dial 911, do the police have a duty to come to your aid? Do police have a duty to provide individuals protection from criminal harm? The answer to these questions is a clear “no.” If anyone doubts this “no,” read: I do not need to read the site to know that this is true. I lived in South Central Los Angles for some years and I was there in the smoke and flames of the Rodney King riots. The various police departments in the area pulled all officers off the street during the time when more than 50 people were murdered. And they could legally do this because police have no duty to provide protection for individual citizens. If you want to read more about these issues you can read some of the books by Dr. Gary Kleck, criminology professor at Florida State University at Tallahassee - even if the police decide to come, they will not arrive in time to save your loved one’s life.

In summary, the daily news frequently includes negative information about black Americans and programs that are supposed to overcome these problems. Have you ever really thought about the assumptions these programs are based upon? Are the programs focused on the real problems or are they only attempting to address the symptoms of the real problems? Chasing the symptoms of problems without addressing the real issues may do nothing to help the people involved. And we seriously do want effective programs that improve the lot of black Americans.

What do think about all this? Your comments are more important that what I write. I hope many readers will join in this discussion so that we can better understand the truth and do something positive about our improvement opportunities. Joseph L. Bass, Ed.D.

No comments: