The City of Reading with a population of about 85,000 people was declared the poorest city in America, with an overall population of 80,000 people. This is quite a feat, considering that Reading has surpassed Flint, Michigan as the most poverty-stricken city in the USA. A feat because unlike the city of Flint, whose misfouturnes can be directly tied to the collapse of the Auto industry dating back as far as the 1970’s with the bankruptcy filing of Chrylsler. The city of Reading has been on this downward trend for the last decade. Ten years ago Reading was 35th poorest city in America breaking the top ten in 2007. It should be no surprise to any resident why the situation in the city is so dire. Issues with the city range from governmental ineptitude, decreasing state funding, Act 47, and, the lack of significant educational achievements by their students.
Don’t get me wrong, I was a graduate of the Reading School system and I know first hand the quality of education avaiable for those students who strive for excellence. In fact, something that I feel is really underreported, The Reading school district has more Advance Placement courses then any other county school. I personally graudtaed with classmates that were accepted into prestigious ivy league schools; but lets not forget to mention those of us (myself included) who attended the fine Public institutions of PA, who didn’t do too bad themselves. So it really saddens me, as I believe it should sadden you, when I read that only 65% of residents of the City of Reading obtain a high school dipmpola. When the national averages somewhere at around 84% But anyway, enough of that rant.
The city of Flint was and by most standards is, still is a primarily manufacturing city; as oppose to the City of Reading, which for the good part of 50 years was considered a low-grade manufacturing city. In fact 95% of all manufacturing jobs in Reading left before I was born, and certantily before my parents were. I know that sounds ridiculous and is probably not true. But it sure feels that way doesnt it? What is true is that the olden days are not here, so we shouldn’t remeience about them anymore. The reality is that 46% of residents are underneath the poverty line. Take a second to think about that. That’s 46% of residents who live below 20,000 dollars. Also take another second to think about the amount of single-parent families in the city. This alone magnifies the sigincianence of these numbers 100x. The city of Reading has been dying a slow death nd the Grim Reaper is knocking on the door.
But this doesn’t have to be the future. In fact, many of the residents of the city have taken a stand against recent downturns. And, while the buzz from the recent election is starting to ware off, these serious discussions will continue to be important in the development of a communal plan to face our crisis head on.
This is why I relaunched this blog! This can be the avenue for us to converse amongst ourselves about problems, conerns, but more improtantly, solutions to the very same problems and concerns that we all have. Bring your thoughts and leave with new ideas.