This week in community development: 3/28/14

Every week, Praxia Partners shares important community-building news. Check out what we’ve been reading this week.

 Economic opportunity and development

  • Praxia Partners’ founder Joe Recchie will present at next week’s conference, Detroit Bankruptcy and Beyond: Organizing for Change in Distressed Cities. He’ll join experts from across the nation to look at the fiscal health of modern American cities. The conference (sponsored by Berkeley’s Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, MOSES, and Wayne State University) aims to “[consider] not only Detroit, but other cities facing similar situations. In order to move forward while realizing community power and racial equity, the conference will also engage challenges and root causes.” Joe will share his thoughts on the ideas discussed, so check back here for more in the coming weeks.
  • Praxia PartnersEducation is the foundation for creating economic opportunity, and this month the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights released some alarming data regarding severe racial inequality in our public school system. The fact is, today in America, children who are black, Latino, or Native American don’t have access to the same educational opportunities that white children do. Some of the most startling findings include (text from the Nation, my emphasis):
        • Black students were more than three times as likely to attend schools where fewer than 60 percent of teachers meet all state certification and licensure requirements. Latino students were twice as likely to attend such schools.
        • A quarter of the schools with the highest percentage of black and Latino students did not offer Algebra II. A third of these schools did not offer chemistry.
        • Less than half of American Indian and Native-Alaskan high school students had access to the full range of math and science courses, which consists of Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, calculus, biology, chemistry and physics.

Additionally, the data revealed that “black students as young as four years old are already facing unequal treatment from school administrators.” Black students of both sexes were suspended and expelled at shockingly high rates (even pre-schoolers!).

      • Nearly one in four boys of color, excepting Latino and Asian American students, with disabilities received an out-of-school suspension.
      • Black students were expelled at three times the rate of white students. American Indian and Native-Alaskan students represented less than 1 percent of students, but 3 percent of expulsions.

Building community

The Barr Foundation posted an interesting article about the “secret recipe” to creating a livable community. Nathan Peyton breaks it down like this:

  1. Take ¼ mile of urban land.
  2. Remove 20% of parking spaces.
  3. Place a transit station at center.
  4. Add colorful signage to taste.
  5. Liberally sprinkle locally produced food and energy
  6. Blend with mixed-use affordable housing.
  7. Bake for 10-20 years.

Green policy

  • This week brought a wave of renewable energy-friendly state policy news. First, Oregon passed legislation that makes the state even more welcoming for community-owned solar powerIowa’s state Senate voted unanimously to triple tax credits for households that install solar. Meanwhile, Massachusetts’ clean energy policy is paying off.
  • At the federal level, President Obama is considering regulations to reduce methane emissions in order to combat climate change. Regulations would affect oil and gas companies and unsurprisingly, those industries’ lobbying groups are pushing back. The Environmental Protection Agency would be able to regulate through the Clean Air Act. (Reuters)

What do you think was the most important community development story this week? Share your insights and thoughts below or by email.

For news about solar power and sustainability, visit Community Renewable Energy’s blog.

About Holly

Holly Jensen is a writer and poet who has worked with nonprofits and businesses for over a decade. She also serves as editor of The Ghazal Page, an international literary journal.
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