Most Baltimore first graders classified as “urban disadvantaged” remained poor as adults, concludes a Johns Hopkins study. Less than half completed high school on time and only 4 percent earned a college degree. By the age of 28, just 33 of 314 reached the middle class.
Before they turned 18, 40 percent of the black girls from low-income homes had given birth to their own babies. At the time of the final interviews, when the children were now adults of 28, more than 10 percent of the black men in the study were incarcerated. Twenty-six of the children, among those they could find at last count, were no longer living.
Education “did not appear to provide a dependable path to stable jobs and good incomes for the worst off,” notes the Washington Post.
Low-income white boys didn’t go far in school, but earned higher incomes than their black classmates. They were able to “tap into what remains of the good blue-collar jobs in Baltimore,” researchers found.
These are the skilled crafts, the union gigs, jobs in trades traditionally passed from one generation to the next and historically withheld from blacks. These children did not inherit college expectations. But they inherited job networks.
Danté Washington, who grew up in a poor neighborhood, is one of the few success stories. His father died of liver problems when he was 12. A mediocre student with a short temper, he was “in and out of modest trouble.” But he finished high school on time. And he’s always worked.
Washington had a son when he was 17, and he has worked nearly every day since. He worked at Au Bon Pain, then MCI, and for many years since, at a publishing company in sales and business development.
When the Johns Hopkins researchers last interviewed him, he only had a high school degree. But in 2013, he finished a bachelor’s in business, earned at night at Strayer University. He owns his own home and, notably as he drives through his old neighborhood, a Lexus.
He wants to become a financial adviser, so that he can talk with people in communities such as this one about the things no one discusses here: retirement, equity, savings.
What made the difference for Washington? His mother had a steady job for the school district. In high school, he participated in programs for students interested in business, including a summer program on the campus of Morgan State University.
Dante Washington is seen in the backyard of his home. (Photo by Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)