Report Calls for Actions To Redress Inequalities Cited by Kerner Commission

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WASHINGTON--The Kerner Commission's warning 25 years ago that the United States was in danger of becoming two unequal societies, one black and one white, is "more relevant today than it was in 1968,'' concludes a report released last week to mark the silver anniversary of the panel's recommendations.

To address the disparities, the report by the Milton S. Eisenhower Foundation recommends that the federal government "invest'' an additional $15 billion a year over the next decade to help children and youths.

Another $15 billion should be spent on housing, community-development, and community-banking programs; infrastructure projects; and high-technology development to employ disadvantaged people, it says.

Despite some gains, the report concludes, the inner cities continue to suffer from many of the same problems that prompted President Lyndon B. Johnson to establish the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, which became known as the Kerner Commission.

In fact, it says, "multiracial disparities and growing income segregation'' have made the situation more complex than it was in 1968, a year marked by large-scale rioting in several cities.

Dismissing the urban policies of the Reagan and Bush administrations as "trickle-down economics, prison building, and drug interdiction,'' the report calls, instead, for "investing in people.''

There is already a wealth of information about programs and approaches that work in the inner city, the report argues, and they should be implemented on a broad scale.

Education Recommendations

In addition to fully funding the federal Head Start program for disadvantaged preschool-age children, the report urges the creation of a national education policy for inner cities.

It endorses a wide range of educational approaches, including overhauling the federal compensatory-education program, Chapter 1, and reforming middle school education.

Successful vocational-education and apprenticeship-training programs should be replicated, it says, and schools should be integrated based on "plans that have worked.''

The Job Training Partnership Act "does not adequately place [high-risk] youth in jobs,'' the report adds.

The nation should also establish a nonprofit "Corporation for Youth Investment,'' it says, to be funded with both public and private monies.

The corporation's mission would be to replicate the successful components of the many community-based, nonprofit development programs for high-risk youths at a sufficient scale to have a national impact.

The private, Washington-based Eisenhower Foundation was formed in 1981 by key members and staff workers from three commissions convened by President Johnson to examine crime, urban problems, and violence.

Vol. 12, Issue 24

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