Friday, May 20, 2011

A beautiful city

After many trips back and forth to Paterson, New Jersey I have a whole new perception of what the city is like. If you believe everything you read instead of doing actual research and field work you would think Paterson was a poverty stricken place where people need crime to survive. The news does an exceptional job when it comes to talking about bad situations, but it doesn't take the time to zero in on the classic closeness the city shares. Paterson works for the people, and the people work for Paterson. By this I mean, the people who live there seem to take pride in their city and what they have built it to be. The city has it's social and economical issues like their not being a lot of money being put into the city, or the fact that the school system isn't as strong as it should be, but they seem to function well with what they do have: each other. The community of Paterson strongly shows a sense of community and togetherness. With basic needs to survive, people live together, and sometimes its not just with family but close friends. Most communities I've been to don't have multiple families living under one roof,and it's not because they don't need the help. They live together because they would rather spend their time together getting by, than struggle alone. The shops and boutiques that run all throughout the city are filled with regulars and familiar faces, while being run by owners who cars about the consumers. I myself was guilty of thinking that Paterson was just a violent crime filled area, but when you look underneath the surface most of the crimes that are commented aren't violent at all. Because of thoughts like this, it makes it more common for people to label the youth that's lives there as future criminals. Comments like this make it easy for people to must say whatever they want and forget about the fact that the people of paterson have feelings. The city of Paterson, to me, is a model city. Though not perfect it gives off an image of rough edges with a soft center. I'd like for people to think of Paterson as a fashion show. It's a big mess until it all comes together and when it does it's beautiful. The feelings that I now have toasted Paterson taught me a lesson. I should judge a book by bits over, I should read the book, and until I finish label it a a mystery book. Now I'm finished reading the basics, and Paterson could be domaines fairy tale. 

Crime in Paterson.?

A huge misconception that people have about Paterson are the crime rates. People always seem to clump crimes with everything that is illegal. Or in this situation, if a crime is committed people automatically assume that someone was shot and killed. This is not the case. Statistics show that there are 4 times more property crimes that happen in Paterson compared to violence crimes. This includes auto theft and home burglaries. There are about 4,000 property crimes that happen in a year and there are only about 1600 violent crimes that occur. Amazingly enough, on 15 out of that staggering number is an actual murder. The rest of the numbers are made up of burglaries that are armed and aggravated assaults. Only about 30 of the crimes are rapes. This shows that the city isn't as dangerous as most people think, and shouldn't be so quick to judge. While walking the streets at night, I didn't feel threatened or scared, I just felt that people did what other people did in other states. Crime is a part of life and people do commit crimes on the daily bases, in some towns more than others. There is a sense of fear when people come to Paterson, and people should not feel that way because it's not bad at all. The school system is worse than the crime rate. The sad part about people being concerned about the crime rate is the fact that the city is filled with Latinos, and this leaves a negative impact on their view in the world. People see them and assume they are up to no good and stereotyping them seems to be plaguing. The impression being left of the people of Paterson isn't too attractive when people think everyone is a murderer.
 Also, what was striking was the drug rate. It is nowhere as near as high as the drug rate in other towns. I am from colts neck, New Jersey, and the drug rate is out of control. More teens are dying from over dose more than ever. Which is a big concern because the drugs aren't just marijuana, but hard drugs like heroin and coke. This should be a wake up call to people all across the world. While reading the papers, I didn't see anything about teens dying from overdose. Not to say they aren't doing or selling drugs but in that environment they are more exposed so they are trained to handle it. In the suburbs, they aren't as exposed to it. Pretty much, Paterson is a calm familiar setting to people. If more people would take the time to visit, they would see a lot of similar attributes that

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Food v.s. Income

One thing I did not expect to find in Paterson, was a place to eat that I would really enjoy. So with that idea already in my head, I looked around to try and find a place that was interesting, and popular among the people who either ate in Paterson frequently, or lived there. After taking a long walk past many Chinese restaurants and Spanish cuisine spots, I stumbled across a place called Libby’s Lunch. Now, if you know me you know that I hate trying new foods that aren’t homemade, so this seemed the like the perfect place for me to grab common food that tasted good. Libby’s Lunch serves good ole American food with a somewhat southern spin on things. (since I’m from the south I was very pleased) They had an interesting burger that was topped and smothered in gravy with a side of fries, so naturally  I could resist and though it was a little different I gave it a try. The food was filling and satisfying. The actual atmosphere of the restaurant made me feel right at home. There wasn’t any pressure to be something I wasn’t, and the servers and people who were in the spot seemed to be welcoming and willing to start conversation. Most importantly the food was cheap and helped me keep more money in my pocket for ice cream at Gelotti Ice Cream. Though the line was long, it was worth the wait for some homemade ice cream. The prices varied, but the ice cream was worth it. As I walked around I saw that a lot of places were like this. Small spots where people could get good food, at decent prices. I browsed around to see what else I could find, and compared the prices to the average incomes people of Paterson made. 

    Paterson, much like other urban environments, have many places that serve food that is cheap and good to eat. Because of the economy and people having to cut back to save money, it is reasonable for the people of Paterson to want to save money. By having restaurants like, Libby’s Lunch, people get a nice meal and save money. Due to financial situations people cannot just blow money on whatever they want to. According to the census data, the average income of a family living in Paterson is $43,960. That statement alone should show that there isn’t much room for splurging on expensive dinners every night. A lot of the single mothers living with children under the age of 18 are living under the poverty line. The census states that it’s over 40% of single mothers having the same problem. The city of Paterson, has a lot of issues concerning people living just barely above the poverty line and people who are living under it. It seems the incomes of the people aren’t enough to support them and their offspring, so they have multiple people living in homes at one time. This could either be a grandmother who is collecting social security, or one who works. Also, aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings are living together to help keep the bills covered. The city isn’t getting too  much help from the government, but they are happy in their town and the way they do things. It seems they have a sense of pride, and are proud of what Paterson has become. Money or no money they do what they have to do to survive together, even if it means a family living in a three bedroom home to help pay bills.

Monday, May 16, 2011

School System Controversy...

The Paterson community, though has a lot of strong attributes, does not have a strong or thriving school system. The school system has over 30,000 students who speak 25 different languages. Currently, the Paterson school system has fifty-two schools with over six thousand employees, with a per pupil expenditure of nearly $16,000, of which $8,148 goes towards classroom instruction. As of now, Paterson Public schools are still controlled by the State of New Jersey Department of Education. As such, Paterson public schools are managed by a state-appointed Superintendent and a School Advisory Board that serves in an advisory capacity only. Sadly enough, the Paterson school system is ranked very low on the education totem pole. Because the Paterson school district is classified by the New Jersey Department of Education as being in District Factor Group "A", the lowest of eight groupings. The high schools are the schools that are at the most risk, because the students attending the following schools, need to get into college.
High schools:
·         Eastside High School
·         Great Falls Academy
·         HARP Academy
·         International High School
·         John F. Kennedy High School
·         Garrett Morgan Academy
·         MPACT Academy
·         PANTHER Academy
·         Paterson Pre-Collegiate Teaching Academy
·         Public Safety Academy
·         Rosa L. Parks School of Fine and Performing Arts
·         Silk City 2000 Academy/Adult School [1]
·         Sports/Business Academy
      Though these are only the high schools, the middle and elementary schools need to start early too. If they start to care about the students early there is a chance at success.
With this issue, it seems that people are forgetting that words can sometimes hurt. If the teachers in communities like Paterson kept a little faith in their students then issues like this wouldn’t be a problem. The school system being under par should be a main social issue in Paterson. In order to stop people from making generalizations about the community something needs to be done. When the school system is such a mess, it makes it ok for people who are working for the system to blame the students, and make them feel like it’s their fault. Also, if fewer comments like this were to be made students wouldn’t feel like that is what is expected of them. If your own teacher feels they are teaching future criminals, it marks in a student’s mind, that even if they are there to better themselves they still are going to reach a peek and fall into criminal behavior. By Paterson having a weak school system, they need to hire people who have a strong desire to want to change that. By allowing people who do not believe in future success for their students, the school system will not get any better.
On April 1, 2011, a teacher in Paterson said some pretty disturbing things about the students she taught. The woman, who has not been identified to the public, made a statement that seemed to generalize the whole adolescent community. “[I] felt like a warden overseeing future criminals” she said on her facebook wall. Because of the comments she made she was suspended from 21 School, but it is with pay. Students had parents who complained about the comments and they seemed to want to have her fired. Because the matter is personal, she was able to still have a paycheck while the investigation is being handled. Though the teacher will no comment, her lawyer seems to think her personal life should be kept separate from her professional life.