Final Exam: Educational Programs, Social Networks and Western's Account

Question 1

The San Francisco Universal Preschool Program is an excellent opportunity to fill the educational gaps, and it should be borrowed by other states within the United States, and even beyond. It is crucial to point out that most of the beneficiaries of the program are from the low-economic status backgrounds, mainly African American and Latino ones. It is also significant to note that this segment of the population would otherwise not be in school due to the lack of funds. Therefore, the program is comparable to an affirmative action aimed at enhancing equity and therefore narrowing the educational gaps within San Francisco. The program provides the learners with the foundation skills necessary before they enter kindergarten, which is crucial for their transition. It is a vital program to orientate the students with the school operations and environments, and that is an important part of the learning process. The program instills the learners with the required social skills to enable them to cope in diverse social environments, which is necessary for the integration purposes. The program is of utmost importance as it lays the foundation for the effective cultural communication based on the diversity of the children who benefit from the program. The preschoolers have an opportunity to interact with their peers of different cultural backgrounds; hence, the program provides them with the opportunities to appreciate diversity. The program provides the beneficiaries with core competencies such as counting and identification of letters that provide them with a solid background in their education journey. The mental skills are also acquired at this stage of learning, which is also essential in enhancing cognition development. Such a program also aims at empowering the children to follow basic instructions that could be applied in their learning at higher levels.

Whereas it is important to support the children in schools by ensuring that sustainable programs are in place, it is equally important to consider programs aimed at uplifting the economic status of their families. For example, an excellent educational program for children whose parents or guardians cannot afford the necessities, such as food and decent housing, would be pointless. It would be important to empower the parents and guardians in whichever ways possible to ensure that they can afford themselves to feed and clothe their children as they benefit from such educational programs. For example, the unskilled and unemployed parents could be equipped with necessary skills so that they could participate in income generating ventures and support their school-going children. Any policy that would improve the psychological welfare of the families, for example, the community counseling programs would also be essential. Adult education and life-skill programs would be vital tools to enable the parents and guardians to initiate their own economic projects so that they could provide for their families and increase the concentration levels of their children at school. Empowering the parents means empowering their children. Some of the beneficiaries of the program come from the neighborhoods characterized by drug use and gang violence, and it would be necessary to ensure that the psychological welfare of children is considered. Parents should be enlightened on how to handle their children under such circumstances to protect them from long-term disturbances that could interfere with other aspects of their lives, including learning. The general empowerment of the families is one of the biggest steps towards addressing the educational gaps formed by the economic status and social inequality. It is necessary that policies geared at providing the poor or low-income families with the ability to improve their lives must be multi-dimensional, as certainly, several areas should be addressed.

Question 2

Social networks are social avenues where an individual can participate in various activities, and they involve family and close friends. Therefore, the networks consist of people from similar backgrounds and interests; hence, the members of the said networks are always there to assist each other whenever help is required. Moreover, social networks become of significant help in all areas of life, including labor. Whenever a member of a social network needs a job and it happens that a member of the same network is aware of an existing position, information is shared, which often leads to the job seeker getting the position. If members of a social network are well-up regarding the posts and resources they control, the result is that any emerging jobs go to members of the network. The networks act to protect each other by ensuring they cater for the welfare of the members before they can consider anyone else outside the system. Therefore, the emerging opportunities within their areas of jurisdiction require not only the skills to perform but also membership of the network. The emerging positions are reserved for the members of the social networks who can reciprocate the favors at some point in future, hence ensuring that positions are awarded to the members of the social networks. The people within social networks get the right jobs while those outside the networks are subjected to prolonged unemployment, qualifications notwithstanding. There are unequal opportunities and segmentation in the job market, with the best jobs, which are secure with potential for training and advancement, being reserved for the members of the networks.

The labor market segmentation is a situation where certain positions are reserved for a particular group or social class. It is a form of discrimination in the labor market where positions are determined not by one's qualifications but by other factors. It implies that the job market is stratified, which ensures that the entry into particular segments or areas of the market is dependent on the racial, social, and economic status of an individual. It leads to a situation, whereby appropriate positions in the labor market are reserved for the particular sections of society. Consequently, the labor market segmentation is a creation of social networks that feel that there is a need to protect their interests so that they could cope with the scarcity of opportunities in the labor market.

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The role of social networks is that they provide members of the networks with necessary information, especially on job opportunities, which ensures that job seekers acquire the positions as long as they are members of the systems. As for black workers and immigrant workers, both groups have weak social networks regarding connections; hence, they are not able to access the most lucrative positions despite the qualifications they hold. The majority of the immigrant workers are either Latinos, Indians, or other minorities who are likely to experience racial discrimination in the labor market and suffer the same fate just as African Americans do. African Americans and the immigrant workers lack family members who hold lucrative positions and who can influence their absorption into the high-end positions. Both groups have a significant disadvantage when they enter the job market, as there are no equal opportunities regarding the distribution of the existing positions. However, a notable difference between the black workers and the immigrant workers is that the majority of the African American workers are skilled, while the immigrant workers lack the necessary skills demanded by the job market. Most of the immigrant workers also lack the necessary job certifications allowing them to work in the USA, which is certainly not the case for the black workers.

Question 3

Proposition 47 of California highly relates to Western’s account. It should be mentioned that the law gives an opportunity to individuals who hold felony records to petitions that the felonies are reduced to misdemeanors so that ultimately, they could enjoy social and economic benefits as persons without criminal records. Western’s account insinuates that incarcerated individuals are subjected to greater punishment than that intended by their service of the prison terms. The circumstances that lead to incarceration are also questionable as some of them are based on the social inequalities and status, some of which are beyond the control of the individuals. According to Western, captivity has profound consequences on the individuals, most of whom are African Americans. Their criminal and prison records have a huge influence on their economic and social performance as result of the stigma. They are denied economic opportunities, and that ultimately influences other aspects of their life, including family. Marriages are negatively affected due to the low performance on the economic front and subsequent interference with the social structures. The mass incarceration is also the result of the wrongful belief that eradication of every crime, however minor, would lead to the reduction of crime. The problem is even more complicated by the fact that some of the incarcerations are the result of racial and social inequality, which implies that they are unfair in the first place. However, their consequence the most worrying fact as it includes denial of some of lifetime opportunities based on records of the incarcerations. Therefore, the proposition 47 is a real attempt to rectify the record of the ex-prisoners so that they were in a position to exploit the economic opportunities available, including but not being limited to jobs. The proposition provides a soft landing in the face of unequal mass incarceration, as explained by Western.

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The rise in incarceration occurred mainly due to the social inequality, particularly formed by racism and the age of the individuals. The young African Americans who had dropped out of school or colleges could not engage productively in the income-generating activities. The young men became victims of their social environments as they mainly lived in neighborhoods filled with gangs and drug peddling. They eventually ended up in prisons as minor offenders but who, as the authorities had felt, had to be locked up to create secure communities. Race and little education are two main factors that have significantly contributed to the mass incarceration. The locked up youths could not obtain jobs on release due to the existing disadvantage of the lack of education. Those, who were married before the confinement, ended up losing their spouses or severely straining their marriages. The proposition 47 fits into the prison policy as it ensures that former inmates are not denied opportunities to earn livelihood having criminal records. The plan provides the offenders with an excellent opportunity to clean up past criminal records and enable them to exploit positions enjoyed by other citizens. The reduction of felony records to misdemeanors ensures that reformed individuals can benefit from the fruits of their new status. They are provided with an opportunity to rectify their past. The proposition has huge social consequences. The individuals, whose records have been reduced to misdemeanors, can access employment, which is a significant factor in the stability of marriages. The accessibility of such opportunities is also a major boost in the resumption of their participation in the activities of society. The proposition provides the individuals with a chance to truly reform and to be judged by their present state of duties and performance. The proposal is especially crucial in the stabilization of the family units that are severely affected by mass incarceration.

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