There is truth in the metaphor of the frog boiling to death in a pan of slowly-heated water. Millions who have lost out in this severe economic revolution haven’t yet realized what caused their plight. Kodak suffered a near-death experience before dropping film cameras.

There is truth in the metaphor of the frog boiling to death in a pan of slowly-heated water. Millions who have lost out in this severe economic revolution haven’t yet realized what caused their plight. Kodak suffered a near-death experience before dropping film cameras.

Simultaneously, businesses have shifted the risks of globalization to workers by shifting as many fixed-costs as they could to variable costs assumed by their employees. For example, if enough orders don’t come in to keep full-time, salaried employees busy, the firm still must pay them. To shift this risk to employees, employers simply reduced workers to part-time [under 30 hours per week] and temporary status [report for work only if, when needed]. Similarly, employers cut fixed costs by reducing or ceasing to pay for workers’ health insurance care and defined-benefit. Transferring these costs to employees was labeled “The Great Risk Shift.” [1

Our economy has experienced major but imperceptible changes that displaces middle-class jobs causing many current social problems. In the past, employers required only the basic ‘3 R’s . No, the literacy level required by employees included math and digital skills which huge segments of the population lack.

The percentage of OKC high school graduates forced to take remedial math classes upon entering college varies from 2.8% to 82%. [2]. There is more variation among remediation rates of OKC high schools than between the innate ability of their pupils which leads me to think the problem is less in schools than in the home and social conditions of those students. Statewide, 40% of Oklahoma high school graduates must take one or more remedial courses when they enter college.

Traditionally students were primarily socialized by home, school, and church. Now, on average only 21% of children attend church with any regularity. Peer groups are an enormously powerful influence on children—likely an adverse influence in low income neighborhoods.[3] Children averaging 7.2 hours a day using smart phones are being raised more by the media. “A Pew Research Center study examined who falls out of the middle class and it found that women who are divorced, widowed, or separated are an especially vulnerable group especially if they have lots of kids early in life….The individuals falling out of the middle class are more likely to be divorced, to have low levels of formal education, to have low test scores, and to have a history of drug use.[4] “

The poor of whatever color, cluster in class enclaves. The richest 10% are more likely to live among the similarly affluent. The college-educated also increasingly live among their peers, a surge driven by families with children. Wealthier families move to better-performing schools, while rising income inequality keeps the poor in place. Between 1991 and 2012, segregation of poor pupils incased by 40% Research showed the gap in achievement between rich and poor pupils is now twice as large as that between black and white. [5] Low-achievers from high socioeconomic [S.E.S.] households are more like to achieve than high achievers from low-income neighborhoods. These forces are enduring across generations changing us from a class to a caste society.

Déjà vu

This happened before following the Industrial Revolution sending farm youth flooding into urban factories. Factories required only grade school level literacy which made this transition easy. Math is cumulative and failing at age 8 in third grade can sentence a child to failure in the workplace the rest of their lives!

Before child labor laws were enacted in 1918 and 1922, children worked 10-hour days, six days a week—preventing them from attending schools and obtaining literacy. Churches responded by providing school on Sunday, teaching reading, writing, mathematics and penmanship. As free public schools assumed these secular, literacy skills, it left churches providing solely spiritual content.[6]

As the bar for literacy has been raised to include math and computer skills, it disadvantaged the children from poorer homes and neighborhoods. Contemporary conditions similar to those of the eighteenth century recommend a similar response now by churches Efforts by schools are hampered and often defeated by these social conditions. Churches could help by creating supplemental education in math along with existing Spiritual programs on Sundays. Programs to tutor kids in an atmosphere of Christian caring and a love of learning could help turn this tragic situation around so that they never fall behind. One church example of this is Putnam City Baptist Church in OKC partnering with Wiley Post Elementary School in conducting a ‘Whiz Kids’ mentoring program for grades 1 through 6. [7]

Jesus preached and practiced the Jewish and Christian gospel of spiritual renewal [conversion] and ethical actions [the social gospel. ] Jesus’s model prayer’s contained parallel structure expressing both personal piety and social action transforming society i.e., “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven.” [Mt.6:10] Combining spiritual and secular content by thus creating School on Sundays is both historically and biblically sound.

[1]Hacker, Jacob S.,The Great Risk Shift, Oxford Univ. Press, 2006.

[2] The Oklahoman, April 6, 2018.

[3] The Economist, April 7, 2018, p.20.

[4] Cowen, Tyler, Average is Over, NY: Dutton, 2013, p249-251.

[5] Bishop, Bill,The Big Sort, NY: Houghton-Mifflin, 2008.

[6] Boylan, Anne M. Boylan, Sunday School: Formation of An American Institution, 1790-1880.

[7] The Oklahoman, March 17, 2018