Start your week off with #GoodReads that will get you thinking. In this edition, we get real about the potential - and limits - of technology. We review a case for reparations and re-think the CRA Exam. Lastly, we turn our eyes to Detroit and the education reforms underway.
Why Economic Growth Lags - The New York Times
This review of what might be the year’s most important book on economics: “The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War,” is a “sobering reminder of technology’s limits.” Author Robert J. Gordon’s realistic approach poses one way to think about the potential of technology for change and growth.
Ta-Nehisi Coates Makes the Case for Paying Reparations - The Atlantic
Recommended by Kevin Paul, Associate, Strategic Communications and Engagement
As we set guideposts and our broader vision here at Living Cities for our work in the coming years, I wanted to share this article by Ta-Nehisi on what he terms the “incuriosity” that infects arguments against even examining the concept of reparations. The jump to practicality, to how such a program would be implemented, tends to ignore historical reality and the unpaid debt our nation faces. For Ta-Nehisi, everything starts with a vision, and grappling with that vision is a process that must happen before considering the world of the possible. A resonant quote for me: “The problem of reparations has never been practicality. It has always been the awesome ghosts of history.”
Redesigning the CRA Exam to Meet Community Needs - Rooflines, The Shelterforce Blog
Recommended by Tonya Banks, Senior Administrative Associate, Capital Innovation
The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) requires federal banking agencies to assess a bank’s record of helping to meet the credit needs of the local communities, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. CRA Examiners are supposed to conduct performance context analysis, develop a needs analysis and rate a bank on its demonstration of meeting those needs. Although CRA exams are general and non-specific in scope, more than 98% banks pass their CRA exam with little, if any, community engagement counted in. “The current implementation of performance context analysis and engagement with low income communities in insightful conversations fall far short of the goals of the CRA statute and regulations.” Redesigning the CRA exams, with the inclusion of community organizations and stakeholder input, banks would actually meet the needs of the communities they serve.
Recommended by Sindhu Lakshmanan, Intern, Capital Innovation
The teacher sick-outs in Detroit have steadily been gaining momentum, both in terms of the number of teachers joining the cause and in national attention. Noticeably absent in the media coverage and the debate about whether or not Detroit Public Schools teachers are right in doing what they’re doing, though, is the student’s voices. I found this letter to be poignantly written, especially when the student states, “Legislators, the Emergency Manager and others have said that teachers are hindering our education by doing these sick-outs, but the reality is that none of you live in Detroit, and none of you have children who go to a DPS school.” Her letter was a reminder of how important it is to include and listen to the people who are most impacted by policies–whether it’s to listen to students and teachers when talking about education reform, or listening to residents of a neighborhood before redeveloping it.