Nearly 2 decades later, Coleman attributed this difference to what he called inequalities in "social capital" that institutions--families, schools, churches, clubs, neighborhood sports leagues, police and fire departments, and the like--are capable of building into young people. Coleman accurately foresaw the devastating consequences across the generations to families, neighborhoods, cities, and the nation as well if those institutions failed young people, and minority youth, in particular.
Critical was Coleman's finding that the more social capital that's present in a school, the lower the drop-out rates across the board. The problem with this particular finding--one drawing fire from those who continued to be smitten with their ideology of a Great Society--was that Catholic schools appeared to be exemplary in their ability to develop social capital in students, especially inner-city Catholic schools.
Five decades later, what Coleman clearly foresaw--and his critics railed against as they pressed forward with their Great Society agenda--has become the reality in many locales with the rise of what are called "super-predators."
Consider Sheriff David Morgan's analysis of the situation he confronts in Escambia County, FL:
To focus solely upon the super-predators is to miss the larger point. Those individuals are a minority of young people and it's likely that only extraordinary measures will be able to deal with the real threat they present to their communities. Let the Sheriff Morgan's deal with them.
But, let's not overlook the larger point Sheriff Morgan implies. Namely: The majority of young people desperately need adults who will develop the social capital in them that, in turn, will free those young people from the menace confronting them each day in school.
One place to start--and that has already demonstrated success--is by offering those young people charter schools, vouchers, and educational savings accounts to attend their school of choice, thus freeing them from having to deal with that menace when those young people should to be doing what they want to do: To learn, to become educated, and to pursue their dreams as free people.
That would be real social justice.
Let the discussion begin...