Oct 5 2007
02:02 pm
By: WhitesCreek

I'm not sure what to make of this map that shows poverty rates by county and Congressional District. We're not poor but we aren't doing all that awesome, either.

Census Bureau poverty stats show two Roanes: Kingston & the rest

Here are some "quick facts" about Roane County from the US Census Bureau: (link...)

Overall, Roane County was counted as having 14.7% of its people below the poverty rate. Not "all that awesome," as you say :), but there are worse places.

Indeed, there are worse places right here in the county; just look outside Kingston. The overall Roane County number hides a large disparity between Kingston and the rest. See: Rockwood ((link...)), Harriman ((link...)), and Kingston ((link...)).

Note that poverty rates in Rockwood and Harriman are much higher than for Kingston. Rates for families with children under 18, for example, are about 27% for Rockwood and Harriman--higher for families with children under 5--and only about 10% in Kingston. Poverty rates in Rockwood and Harriman for families with children under 5 approach 1/3.

In short, Kingston is not that poor—although one could argue that any poverty is too much—but the rest of Roane County qualifies.

-- OneTahiti

A Good Census Link

Check out (link...) .

At the bottom of the page (have scroll down) you can compare up to 20 zip codes of census data.

My concern is this:

On ourSchool report card we show 50% of our students as being economically disadvantaged. No other figure points out the need for Roane County to focus on schools and education more than that one.

I also strongly question some of the other reporting. How, for instance, do you have a high school like Rockwood showing twice as many freshmen as sophomores year after year and yet still having a 75% graduation rate?

To say I don't trust the data is an understatement, but we might get better reporting this year. We'll see.

But think about this: We are putting money into a new industrial park that we won't receive revenue from after the debt is paid, under the best scenario. We are left to lure people to settle in Roane County, who will be the executives and tranferred workers at new installations. Where will they choose to settle when they look at Rockwood, Harriman, and Roane County High Schools?...Particularly after they've seen Stone Memorial?

Stone Memorial is a model, by the way, for what we could have beside the Roane State Campus.

School size for economically disadvantaged areas

Smaller schools *are* better for disadvantaged areas and students. See this RoaneViews blog entry at: (link...)

The many studies pointed to by those references address the issues more authoritatively than I can, since I have only my own varied experience in addition. However, all my experience and reading leads me to agree that larger or consolidated schools would be and are a big mistake for us here in Roane County.

Are the studies perfect? No, what social sciences studies are? But the general memes are clear.

Even the issue of larger schools being more "enriching" is addressed, with the studies coming down still on the side of smaller schools.

I hope folks discussing these issues will give these sources a fair read. :)

-- OneTahiti

Lots of information to dig through...

Good work, WC. I appreciate data. What to do with it is another thing. I'm accustomed to medical data, and it's less susceptible (to me, anyway) to fudging than a lot of sociological data is, IMHO. Will take some digging through. But having it available is way better than not!

While I tend toward skepticism until I understand the methodology of a study, I also have to fight the urge to dismiss information when it shows something I don't want to see. I have my biases, as do all those who either produce or try to interpret data.

Happy Weekend!


RB, I appreciate your

RB, I appreciate your optimism. Maybe you spend a good deal of time in Kingston. But it doesn't really take methodology to understand the truth. It only takes observation to know for sure. I don't intend to be argumentative, just sharing.

Understand that almost or possibly more than 50% of the student population at some schools in Harriman are on the school lunch program. That doesn't include those who qualify, but are too proud to use it. Ride through town at 8am, see cars so dilapidated they can barely make it to the school to drop the kids off.

Go to the local drug store, or grocery store, and just look around. You will see Seniors not buying milk, bread, and eggs...but deciding which one or two are most important, as they cannot afford all three.

Follow the school buses as they drop off the kids, see where they live. Watch the locals scratch off lottery tickets, even though they desperately need dental care. Then there's thirteen-year-olds about to have their first baby. Sit in a doctor's office in Harriman for an hour or two. Really, every Roane County official or person in leadership here should sit and watch as the elderly and the children wait for an appointment.

There's two-year-olds without car seats, there's themometers set to 62 in the winter by eighty-year-olds, and no air-conditioning for some babies in the hottest heat of the summer. Meals on Wheels has a waiting list for Seniors who don't really know they have to put a frozen dinner in the microwave, never mind the ability to understand medicare. And those that are one the list, well...that person who delivers that meal may be that Senior's only visitor all day, all week.

I'm not exagerating. I see it, I live here, I volunteer, I know it.

It's poverty alright. And it's just incredibly sad. Now I know there are some that say their childhood was worse, they had to walk to school in the snow with barefeet, their grandma shoveled coal into the stove to stay warm, they didn't have car seats back then, etc. Well, I'm sorry that happened.

But it doesn't make it right. At least not in today's times.

There is still so much pride in Harriman. Drive through Cornstalk Heights to see the work people have put into those grand historical homes. Talk to small business owners, educators, little league coaches, so many more, all people who are proud and making a difference.

I don't mean to paint an entirely negative picture. There are many positive things going on throughout our county.

Poverty here just tugs at my heart strings. Who likes to see elderly go hungry or unattended? Who likes to see children without a fair chance? Who?

Nothing can deny the fact that poverty exists in Roane County, and an unacceptable percentage of it. What I don't know is the answer. We're a small community. There's so many great programs, like United Way, Lions Club, CASA, Imagination Library, etc. Yes, sometimes we just put band-aids on, but many are also working toward prevention and progress to break the cycle. We just need more people who care to make a difference. More people to volunteer just one or two hours of their time.

Tell everyone. We can make a difference. It's our community, it's our choice.

But first, we must recognize the problem exists. Just wanted to let you know in my best way that we don't really need a graph for that.


Never intended, grasshopper...

to imply or say poverty doesn't exist in Roane. Obviously it does.

I live in Roane too - have all my life, and I'm damn near 60.

My reference to studies and such had to do with the info WC provided, which was about a lot more than whether or not poverty exists (or its prevalence) in Roane County.

Nope - we don't need a graph to know a problem exists.

But sometimes appropriate use of metrics and analysis of same can provide us with more effective means to work on solving a problem.


Grasshopper / volunteering

Thanks for the beautiful post, Grasshopper. :) :) :)

We are so happy that you post here!

You are so right when you said, "We just need more people who care to make a difference."

The big question is: how?

Volunteering is a culture, a way of life. My mom, 83, volunteers 60+ hours, often 80 hours, each week. My whole life she has spent all of her "free" time helping others. Even in her younger days when she was a school teacher and working mother of four she was also a very active den mother, Boy Scout volunteer, and Girl Scout leader.

The rest of us have tried to live up to her shining example. Our family "quality time" was spent volunteering. My best childhood memories—well, my best ones other than those spent with my nose in a good book or taking care of my adorable baby brother—are all of volunteering at churches, Scouts, summer camp, the nursing home, school, Kiwanis, and more. A lot of my best adult memories are of volunteering, too.

But what can we do to induce others into a volunteering lifestyle?

Roane County needs more volunteers so much. Some examples:

  • Did you know that in Roane County there are no "Meals on Wheels" at all for the sick or disabled if they are under age 65? And last I looked, there was a long waiting list even for those 65 or over.
  • There is also no provision in Roane County whatsoever for medical care for the homebound from a physician or even from a nurse-practitioner. This is true even when the would-be patient has insurance. If someone is not well enough to travel, they must try to get better without a doctor's help.
  • Our volunteer fire departments are ably staffed by wonderful volunteers, but they could use so much more help, both in labor and in donations! So much responsibility is carried by so few shoulders.
  • I'm not sure whether more literacy volunteers would help our alarming literacy situation ((link...)), but something needs to be done.

The list could go on and on.

Sometimes I dream of Roane County having more "virtual volunteering" opportunities, where busy or sick or disabled folks could volunteer from afar. These might be similar to volunteers mapping of Mars for NASA, Distributed Proofreaders' proofreading of e-texts for Project Gutenberg ((link...)), and GalaxyZoo's galaxy analysis ((link...)).

With imaginative setup and virtual infrastructure, a lot of paperwork and computer work and tutoring, etc., could be done remotely. I and others are working toward that goal for the West Roane County Volunteer Fire Department ((link...)), but there is still a long way to go.

I even dream of a central place for local folks with volunteer opportunities to easily post those opportunities, so would-be volunteers with a little time could quickly find something to do where the need is greatest. Hmmm. Maybe at RoaneViews? :)

Anyway, thanks so much again for being here. I always enjoy your thoughtful posts.

-- OneTahiti

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