Oakland Tribune Op Ed

July 22, 2003


Vernon Foster

There is no disagreement that there is a crisis in California’s inner-city schools. However, African Americans must also address the issues of fatherlessness in their community or little will change.

Alameda County represents more than 30 percent of the state’s welfare population, including individuals identified as non-custodial parents, the majority of whom live in Oakland. Fatherlessness is the engine that drives our most pressing social problems. Consider the following:

Fatherlessness is the most important predictor of crime — a greater predictor than either race orr income. More than 70 percent of juveniles in long-term correctional facilities grew up without their fathers. More than 78 percent of the hardened criminals are from fatherless households. More than 70 percent of men in prison come from fatherless households.

Living in a mother-only family decreases a child’s chances of completing high school by more than 40 percent for whites and 70 percent for blacks.

Eighty-eight percent of women who did not graduate from high school and had a child out of wedlock live in poverty.

These facts, while certainly alarming, still fail to reveal the heart of the matter. Oakland is not only losing fathers, it is also losing the idea of fatherhood.

What we face is not simply a physical loss affecting some households; we face a cultural loss affecting every home. In some communities of Oakland, more than 50 percent of the births are to single low-income mothers — per the above statistics, their children’s future looks dim.

Thirty-eight years ago, Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “From the wild Irish slums of the 19th century Eastern Seaboard to the riot-torn suburbs of Los Angeles, there is one unmistakable lesson in American history: A community that allows a large number of young men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any rational expectations about the future — that community asks for and gets chaos.”

Many in the hip-hop generation believe that being uneducated is “keeping it real,” that a man’s responsibility to his child is the sperm he donated to the mother, and that prison is a right of passage.

No school system, no political will and no amount of money can handle that charge. The schools are just a part of the inner city chaos.

In 2004, the Charles P. Foster Foundation will assist disenfranchised fathers by providing them with a renewed position in society, improved economic opportunities and strengthened family ties.

Vernon Foster is founder and CEO of the Charles P. Foster Foundation.


Posted on Jay B. Gaskill’s Think Site with the permission of Vernon Foster

The Charles P. Foster Foundation assists disenfranchised fathers by providing them with a renewed position in society, improved economic opportunities, and strengthened family ties……………

The Charles P. Foster Foundation, a 5 01c[3] non-profit organization:

1271 Washington Avenue, #17 4 San Leandro, CA 94577

510 .346.2 733

Leave a Reply