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Howard Husock
A Connecticut Yankee in Appalachia « Back to Story

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What a joke! As my 'sister-in-law', I KNOW she has always looked down on us "poor hill billy hicks" Always trying to 'save' us then bragging on how much she has done and embarrassing my Mother. I see this throughout this entire article. I wish you would interview the true family who KNOW her.....and by the way, when did she ever have a job? js
If Alice Chapman wishes to wage a real war on poverty, she should return to her hometown of New Haven, Connecticut, where the poverty rate is a whopping 26 per cent. New Haven is also in need of her instruction in moral values, as in 2010 it was ranked the 18th most dangerous city in the United States. No wonder a member of one of its “first families” fled to a safe, stable community like Marietta, Ohio!

A first reading of this article provoked shock and indignation at the distorted and misleading depiction of one of America’s great small towns. Analysis of its carefully skewed statistics and emotive language reveals the actual intent of the writer. Howard Husock has provided Chapman with supporting material for grant applications (and something to flaunt to the folks back home in Connecticut), while advancing his own cause of independent philanthropy. Although their fundamental goals are admirable, the use of an unfairly disparaging article to achieve them is objectionable. Marietta’s opportunities for economic recovery may be damaged because of it.

The Ely Chapman Center does a commendable job of providing after-school activities and academic support for local youth, although the extent of its influence in overcoming poverty is overstated. Many of the children it serves are from middle-class, working families who simply need a worthwhile place to go after school.

Philanthropists will surely recognize that Husock has presented a biased viewpoint, with comments and statistics taken out of context. Marietta would benefit most from the investment of businesses that will locate in a community where genuine “Appalachian values” include a strong work ethic, reliability, and a willingness to learn. The majority of its residents prefer jobs over handouts.
The locals seemed to have turned out in force after an editorial in the Marietta Times (paywall, sorry.) If things were so rosy in Marietta, they would have shrugged and ignored this piece. (Can you imagine Malibu's citizens posting here if some writer wrote that the place has troubles?)
As a transplant not just from another state, but from another country, I am seriously dismayed by the impression given of the people of Marietta by this article. I have personally lived in a number of cities in this nation from the Northeast to the midwest and have never felt safer than I do in Marietta.
Drug abuse, crime and poverty can be found in the Ohio valley as they can everywhere in the country, but this article in my opinion goes out of its way to make Marietta sound like inner city Detroit (a region I have encountered but not lived in, which is why I am still alive). This is COMPLETELY FALSE and in my direct experience I have always been treated very well by the people of Marietta, I can walk anywhere day or night in the downtown area and feel safe.

I have never felt threatened or been asked for money in the street in Marietta as I have been in EVERY other town I have ever lived in around the country. I am sure drugs can be found, but they are not used openly in the street as I have seen in other areas of the USA.

Most of the oil and gas companies coming to the area bring their own workers and will not train people when they can hire an already qualified workforce, so these opportunities are not always available to the locals and the educational facilities are only recently getting to grips with this and offering relevant courses.

The sense of community in this area and the tenacity of the people is excellent and this article was obviously written with a serious bias.

I have seen the ECEF bus around town and I would go as far to say that if this organization truly cares about the kids of the area it will invest in a better mode of transportation, as it seems to me that traveling on that dilapidated wreck is far more dangerous than the apparently mean streets of Marietta. I have walked behind it and breathed its fumes.

I suspect that this particular philanthropist has picked a safe and comfortable town in which to set up a foundation to conduct her activities and then used high profile connections in the Northeast who can't even find Marietta on a map to tell the world about the dark and terrible place they are bringing the light of civilization to. I would suggest relocation to some of the towns where she is truly needed, where the crime rate is far higher than the local area and a local library is nonexistent.

Working alongside the people of this region, I have found them to be inventive, curious and above all welcoming, not at all like the lazy, welfare dependent, downtrodden individuals indicated by this article.

In closing I would say that the worst crime I have encountered on my travels has been in upstate New York. It’s a much shorter drive from Connecticut than Marietta and your bus might make it without breaking down... Just don't park it on the street and expect it to be there when you get back... like you do in Marietta.
Marietta Ohio is not a staple of perfection but then again there is no city that matches that description! Dysfunctional families exist across the world and in no way shape or form confined to the MOV , drugs will ALWAYS be a problem anywhere, but our local law enforcement does a stand up job controlling the issue to the best of their ability. Gun violence? What gun violence we have a guy with a few screws loose fire a shotgun out his window at police a few months back but to the best of my knowledge nobody was even hurt and before that hell if I know. Anyone who righteously attacks this community needs to put things into perspective compared to the rest of the country, let alone the rest of the world. Crime is an after thought my family and I moved here in 1999 from Cleveland. We had stuff stolen on a daily basis drug raids to the surrounding houses bullet casings in the alley behind our house and we wouldn't dream of walking outside alone let alone at night. In Marietta the vast majority of my walks take place at night I feel safe wherever I go. I love this town and plan to live here till the day I die. As for Alice Chapman, as a "local hero" she should know better them to speak down to the area she "serves" the ECEF is a wonderful foundation, until you factor in the fact that apparently the founder and proprietor of that establishment looks down upon those she serves. That is NOT philanthropy that is using other people for personal gain. I'd rather struggle through life then except the "help" of someone who will turn around and use me as a statistic and showcase me as a trophy of their good will.
Speaking as a 30 year resident of Washington County, Ohio (who has worked in Marietta for that entire time span), I'd like to say that this story is a load of tripe. I was born and raised in West Virginia by hard working parents and graduated from Muskingum College with a BA and then attended The Ohio State University Graduate School of Public Administration. My sister attended Ohio University and Graduated Summa Cum Laude. One of my three sons is in the US Air Force, another is attending college and majoring in accounting and the third is still in high school and doing quite well. Of the families I know here I can't think of any that are on government assistance. Most of my childrens' friends either joined the military upon graduation from high school, entered college or the workforce or both. I think this report really should check his facts. The shops on "main street" in Marietta do include some consignment stores, but those he states sell "cheap gifts" in fact sell very nice, often hand-made items. There's an art gallery, some very nice antique stores, a high-end kitchenware store, a very nice ladieswear boutique, and that's just a short list off the top of my head. I hate to tell Mr. Husock that Marietta was rolling along just fine long before Ms. Chapman hit town and we'll be getting by long after she and her millions are gone. (Yes, she's done good things, but believe me when I say other people have too.) Speaking as a Scotch-Irish-English-Native American descendant who has worked for 39 of her 53 years, we are not uneducated, unemployed, meth-manufacturing losers here in southeastern Ohio. The majority of us are doing just fine in spite of a less-than-spectacular economy and so few New England transplants to help us out.
I think Ms. Chapman is more than a little biased against our home town. If she thinks that appalachians are so bad, perhaps she should go back to New England. The appalachian ethic that she tries to describe is actually one of persistance and survival. Appalachian families come from diverse foreign roots, but are primarily Scot-Irish. We are strong people who value hard work and family. We take care of our own and help our neighbors. If Ms. Chapman were to really scratch the surface she'd see the real appalachian ethic. Unfotunately she cannot see past her "gentile" nose.
Marietta College Students June 07, 2014 at 7:02 AM
As someone who grew up in central Connecticut (roughly 1 hour away from New Haven, and 30 minutes from Hartford) and now attends Marietta College, I couldn't agree more that this man is full of it. I acknowledge that when I first came to Marietta, there was a little bit of MOV culture shock for sure, in part because of the 97% white statistic, and close proximity to West Virginia, but mostly because only miles away from MC, there are so many dilapidated homes and people going hungry. However, I think this author has made an egregious error in forgetting to mention all of the OTHER organizations that are working hard to make Marietta/Washington County better, i.e. Washington County Harvest of Hope, Marietta Main Street, the Boys and Girls Club, and the Office of Civic Engagement at Marietta College. This town may have drug problems and a less than stellar school system, but there ARE people trying to fix it besides Alice Chapman. She is a wonderful individual and deserves a lot of credit, but not necessarily all of it. Moreover, I can't wait to get back to school and help this effort through the service opportunities available to me through Greek Life, the McDonough Leadership program, etc. In short- do a facts check first and please give more credit where it is due. I implore you to call the Office of Civic engagement at MC or visit their website if you are truly interested in these issues.
I understand how you might feel this is an accurate description of Marietta. However, I do not feel that your story is entirely proper. I am very much offended by some of your comments. I have lived here my entire life and I feel comfortable in saying, "If you do not like our town, stay out of it." There are wonderful people, businesses, educators, and families in our wonderful city. There are some negative attributes as well as some great ones. I have 5 amazing children who are in high school or have graduated from high school that have excellent values. My husband and I do not get HUD, food stamps, or other government help. You story is terrible and I hope readers do not accept what u have written.
This is pure trash story nothing more or less trying to make something out of nothing.Anyone with any common since will know that the picture by the house in disrepair was a pose job.The City of Marietta has one of the lowest crime rates in the state of Ohio.Marietta has a crime rating of 75 with the adv crime rate in America is 301, low being better. You can walk anywhere in this city at night and not have to worry I'm sure Husuck can't say the same thing where he is living.Also there are not a lot of Oil/gas drilling jobs in the area 99% of the oil/gas drillers bring in their own people to do the work .The only work left is driving trucks filled with toxic waste water at $15 dollar an hour. Be proud Marietta people like Howard Husuck are a dime a dozen
Charles Schwartz June 05, 2014 at 2:56 PM
This is a very good, I live in Marietta and can say thing are at best that bad, much worst for some. We have had an after school program a Gilman United Methodist Church for 16 years also we work with about 20 children from Harmer School. Some of the family stores are hard to understand. Hope Ely Chapman keeps up the good work. Would like to see this story on the frort page of the Marietta Times.
I think u r so full of crap it is amazing I have lived here 63 years and would not want to live any other place. Why not do some talking about the low crime thanks to our fine police dept and great fire dept that makes u feel safe. People like u just focus on the bad not the good . We have some fine teachers not all but 99 out of 100. Every city has some problems. Try writing something that someone cares about not this trash . I am not talking about ely chapman only the other crap
It is unfortunate that this extremely biased, agenda-based article will cause more harm than good for one of Ohio's most beautiful small towns. Perhaps with the aid of Mr. Husock, Ms. Chapman will be able to obtain some of the philanthropic support she seeks for her "one-woman war on poverty." For a more complete picture of this lovely city that was ranked number six on Smithonian’s list of America’s Top 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2014, take a look at some other media views:
This Howard Husock should be completely discredited as a journalist. The article was full of cherry-picked subjective observations and shoddy mis-represented statistics, which revealed Husock's ignorance of poverty, which clearly comes from his life of privilege and intergenerational wealth. The "statistics" he quoted may be accurate, but what he failed to include is that they don't differ much nation-wide. He stated that half of the children have single parents (nationwide, 40% of children are born out of wedlock) and poor graduation rates (nationwide it is only 75%). Yes, Marietta has rampant drug use, but so do states like Vermont where the Governor just spent the entire state of the union address talking about the heroin epidemic.

Additionally, what Hussock failed to see is that in spite of the significant poverty in the MOV, what you rarely see here (and is extremely common just about everywhere else) is people sleeping on the sidewalks and panhandling - people that are utterly alone and abandoned. There is a sense of community in Marietta that Howard Hussock will never understand because it comes from generations of people staying in the same place. It means that even if I don't know you, chances are that our parents or our grand-parents know each other. It isn't something you can't buy with a golf membership, or sign up for on a social media site, and it is what keeps people afloat in hard times. Mr Hussock had better hope he never falls on hard times - judging from his recklessness, it's safe to say that the only community he will ever have to fall back on is a pile of money.
From the Marietta Times: |
The citizens of Marietta can rightfully be proud that their city was named by Smithsonian Magazine writer Susan Spano as #6 in her list of "America's Best Small Towns".

That April, 2014 article was a positive reinforcement of the notion that economic and cultural revitalization is possible in a community that, like so many others in this region and across the nation, was hit hard by the triple-whammy of industrial outsourcing, automation, and the after-effects of the September, 2008 Wall Street collapse that created further massive reductions in the availability of living-wage jobs ...

However, some of the luster of the Smithsonian article has now been dimmed by the appearance of a puerile and condescending bit of hackery by Forbes Magazine and National Review writer Howard Husock entitled "A Connecticut Yankee in Appalachia" that appeared in the Spring, 2014 issue of a lesser-known publication called The City Journal, which is the NYC-based propaganda-outlet of an alleged "non-profit think-tank" called "The Manhattan Institute", that claims to promote "personal responsibility" and the "entrepreneurial spirit". The Journal has a certain following among far right ideologues who still fervently believe in the sort of elitist, "trickle-down" nonsense that cost Mitt Romney the last presidential election.

In the article, Mr. Husock (who claims to be a "scholar" and is coincidentally also the Manhattan Institute's "Vice-president for Policy Research") depicts Marietta as a "Rust Belt city of 14,000" plagued by "inter-generational poverty" and "a host of social problems - family breakdown, dependency, drug-abuse, and educational indifference." Attempting (unconvincingly) to appear familiar with the area, he claims that such "pathologies run as deep here as the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio on Front Street", but reveals a bit of his own "pathology" by adding the words "notwithstanding the fact that the city is 97% white". Digging himself in even deeper, he concludes that same paragraph by saying that "locals speak (sometimes softly as if it were politically-incorrect) of a pervasive culture of 'Appalachian values', reminiscent of the values and behaviors often thought to be confined to America's black urban underclass." ... Besides using loaded words like "under-class", Husock gives himself away further by including admiring references to the controversial writer, Charles Murray, whose 1995 book, "The Bell Curve" presented to a late-20th century world the Neo-Social-Darwinist view that inner-city black students perform poorly because of "inherent intellectual inferiority". Husock cites other alleged conservative "gurus" like Edward Banfield ("The Unheavenly City") and right-wing columnist Thomas Sowell to promote his underlying view that only healthy doses of unrestricted "free-market" capitalism (i.e. giving unlimited access and influence to the oil-gas industry?), "Victorian values" (which ones - slavery or imperialism?), fundamentalist religion (the notion that dinosaurs and cavemen cavorted together 6000 years ago?), and the "Protestant work-ethic" can save Marietta's "unwashed masses" from the pit of Hell ...

All this is pretty heady stuff for an article that pretends to be about the genuinely praiseworthy efforts of Connecticut native Alice Ely Chapman (who founded The Ely Chapman Educational Foundation after her arrival here in 1996) to provide Marietta's young-people (from a variety of backgrounds) with after-school activities, worthwhile extra-curricular programs, and some positive encouragement they might not receive at home ... Mrs. Chapman's work is beyond reproach and a credit to our community ...

But the "Connecticut Yankee" article is not so much about Mrs. Chapman or her good work as it is about promoting the economic theories and hard-core Calvinist views of Mr. Husock and (since it is quite apparent that the City Journal writer never came within 100 miles of Marietta) whichever of the anonymous Calvinistic locals who likely provided him with the depressing photos (one is a night shot of a West-side house scheduled for demolition last winter; the other a possibly photo-shopped picture of an alleged "single mom " playing with her child in a sparsely-furnished room) and cherry-picked descriptions of local crime and economic conditions he used to put together his long-distance hatchet-job on our town ... While space is too limited to go into detail, it will be sufficient to say that Husock goes on for a considerable length describing the worst possible aspects of our community - drugs, child-abuse, the lack of jobs, the proliferation of "payday lending" shops. For good measure, he throws in the usual right-wing polemical attacks against public-education (which he claims "encourages failure") and public-assistance programs like HUD, WIC, HEAP, and SNAP (which he claims "erode the work ethic") and FOX-fixated fabrications about people "irresponsibly using" government-provided cell-phones and "buying" cigarettes and drugs with food stamps ... Husock's bottom line (and that of his supporters) is that if you happen to be poor, you must have done something wrong to deserve it ...

Do any of the problems described by Mr. Husock really exist in Marietta? Of course they do - just as they exist in other towns and cities from NYC to Pittsburgh to Podunk, Iowa. Is there really a significant drug problem here? Yes there is, and it might be alleviated if certain office-holders provided funds for more counselors and facilities to treat addicts. Do our public-schools need help? Yes they lack adequate funding, and they need support instead of the constant anti-educational harangue they get from local tea-partiers. Is there a scarcity of living-wage jobs in both Marietta and the surrounding area? Most certainly, and that problem might be fixed if more profit-making entities like Wal-Mart paid their workers in accordance with prevailing prices ...

Yes Marietta needs jobs. It needs valid solutions to the problems of drug-addiction, child-abuse, and poverty, but one thing it certainly does NOT need is a highly-paid big-city pundit from a dubious "think tank" (especially one that enjoys the benefits of the current flawed tax code to designate itself as a "social-policy-organization") telling us what is or is not "behaving responsibly"!

Fred O'Neill lives in Marietta
I think we are being a bit hard on Howard here. I mean, his article isn't exactly on the bleeding edge of libertarian/conservative thought and his research isn't quite up to Ivy League standards, but in his defense he works for the Manhattan Institute. If you worked for them you wouldn't try that hard either. They are still employing Victor Davis Hanson for his insights on policy (and they are devastating) so you know they have kind of given up too.

I can only imagine this article's specific subject was conjured to try to squeeze some cash out of someone or Howard literally couldn't find a better subject to illustrate his never-ending admiration for philanthropy and his constant, existential dread "big government" will be taking it away (soon). Naturally, this white (but really more urban, black lack-of-responsibility) poverty is the fault of the poor themselves because culture (or whatever, Howard isn't here to write a structural analysis of poverty itself just the poverty of spirit that can be fixed by some wealthy woman of the correct breeding and whatnot), but it has been mentioned at least. Private charity (funded in part by the state, but hey that's still charity right?) and hydraulic fracturing is the only way out.

Mariettans this wasn't written for you; it was written about you. Howard does not want nor need such input from locals. His information must come not from the poor, but from those who would save the poor. So I suggest you do what everyone else does; ignore Howard. Marietta is a fine place with plenty of its own problems, and it will continue to exist much as it has regardless of this poorly written propaganda piece's attempts to blind readers with the white-hot light of "personal responsibility" and Halliburton subsidiaries.

So, in summation, if we ignore his epistemological problems (he does so why shouldn't we grant him his premise?) and the factual issues regarding his understanding of Marietta itself, this is an elite level take on Appalachian poverty dating from 1975 or so.
Ashley Halligan June 03, 2014 at 4:46 PM
This article is skewed in many, many ways. I grew up in Marietta - in a household that was unorthodox - with my grandfather, because my mother was an addict. So I've seen firsthand the addiction and "family breakdown" you speak of. I went on to graduate from Marietta College - which was a great education, affording me the opportunity to leave Marietta in pursuit of a promising career (not because I so despised home, but because home doesn't offer career opportunities- or anywhere near home, for that matter, - or the ability to earn a substantial income in many fields, including mine: journalism).

This article certainly points out common qualities of many poverty-stricken regions, both Appalachian and otherwise. None of the things you pointed out are exclusive to Marietta - broken homes, addiction, poverty rates, poor education. In fact, they're quite common qualities of MANY American cities.

Furthermore, it's clear that you didn't actually spend time in the town or speaking to its native folk. There is no "Main Street" as you so blatantly (and inaccurately) described as having "consignment shops and cheap gift stores." If you've ever visited downtown Marietta, you'd know its main streets are Front and Putnam, and are lined with amazing local businesses including an upscale kitchen shop, a local wine shop, clothing boutiques, bakeries, fantastic (and high-quality) local dining, a microbrewery, incredible old banks with original storefronts, and many more credible and reputable businesses. There are no "cheap gift shops" and no low-class "consignment shops." In fact, when I was home at Christmas there wasn't even a coffeeshop.

To go onto say that there are "trailer homes within city limits" is an asinine and irrelevant statement. Name one American city that doesn't have trailer parks, or at least low-income or less-than-first-class housing. Every American city has some degree of poverty, or as you seem to consider it, lower class members of society. Marietta is no different. The number of dilapidated Victorian homes and properties you mention is also highly, highly skewed. Marietta is a well-preserved historic community, recently recognized by Smithsonian as being one of the most picturesque towns in the country. It's also been given recognition in Nat Geo for being a "postcard" and "adventure" town. Clearly you have no true experience in the town or region.

While I have always supported the Ely Chapman efforts, this article is written in a very condescending and harshly inaccurate voice that makes me hope Miss Alice didn't share the same opinions as you - opinions not marked by experience, but rather prodding with authorities and certainly not real statistics, and not a single long-standing (or UPSTANDING) member of our community. Marietta has many notable characters who've impacted the world in many ways, both native and MC graduates from elsewhere.

Perhaps next time you decide to take such a harsh stance on something, you'll actually give it holistic exploration. Maybe then you'll sound like less of a fool and more like a journalist.
Andrea Bonnette June 03, 2014 at 4:13 PM
Oh yea by the way we have 1 Doctor specializing in OB/GYN and a PhD
Andrea Bonnette June 03, 2014 at 4:10 PM
I didn't even bother to finish reading. Maybe you should have spoken to families born and raise here. My parents 53rd anniversary is coming up. Both sets of grandparents were married over 50 years at their passing. I have 38 1st cousins no one is draining the system by drawing welfare. My sister has a Masters in education. You really have no idea what REAL locals do or what goes on here!
Its quite insulting to completely neglect the hard working families of this area and instead make it appear that everybody is uneducated, lowly, and helpless. Maybe you should try getting to know the area before you slam it, personally I will never leave southeast Ohio, the people are the nicest I've ever met in my journeys. Oh, by the way, Husock, I have no idea where you're from, but I heard through the grapevine that its terrible.
I find this article completely insulting. Does Alice Chapman really see the town that she has chosen to call home the way it is described in this article. Imagine her supporters knowing that their businesses are nothing but consignment stores and coffee shops and would the owners of these "cheap" gift shops be as willing to help?
I applaud Bill Johnson and his knowledge of true Appalachian Values. Being of Scotch Irish heritage, born and raised in Appalachia and being the daughter of a Phi Beta Kappa with his doctorate in education, I am truly personally insulted as most of us here in the Mid-Ohio Valley should be.
The following is Appalachian Culture:
The Appalachian culture we witness today is one that has been preserved mostly by families and churches. The constant attempts by the "outlanders" to change this culture are testimony to the determination and strength that persists in this culture. This culture is based on subsistence agriculture and hunting, not on industrial class-structured ways of existence. Two key characteristics of the culture of Appalachia are the independence displayed and the constant mutual aid provided to others in the region. There is a sense of equality that exists between the people; this is of course in sharp contrast to the inequality and elitism that exists in other areas of modern society.

Culturally, there are four distinctive people groups in Appalachia. To fully understand Appalachia, it is important to recognize this diversity. One people group consists of descendants of the original pioneers who settled in the region during the westward movement. These people tend to be landowners, politicians and business people. The characteristics of this group are self-reliant, independent, hard-working, stable and having strong ties to family.

A second group is composed of the hard-working coal miner, logger or factory worker. The average worker has little education, few skills, a large family, no wealth and few choices in vocation. For example, while coal mining continues to be the largest financial contributor to the economy of West Virginia, poverty in the coalfields remains a daily and depressing reality.

The third group is the profession group. These are individuals and their families who have moved to Appalachia due to a profession (i.e., bankers, lawyers, teachers, ministers, etc.). Members of this group are usually not readily accepted by the Appalachians.

The fourth group is the returning Appalachians. This group consists of those who grew up in the mountains, moved away for employment and are now returning to Appalachia. Many of them find it difficult to adjust to the lifestyle they left as a teenager.

Appalachians expect others to respect their freedom. Independence and self-sufficiency are very important to the people in the region. The friendly greetings and helping hands offered to strangers by the majority of Appalachians will impress the short-term visitor. One should not be misled by their friendliness. Mountain people as a whole are resistant to change, slow to accept outsiders and are very reluctant to accept authority.

This region called Appalachia stretches from Pennsylvania to Mississippi and encompasses many cultures, all of which have some common values. The cultures are self-sufficient and independent. They have survived influxes of "outlanders" seeking coal, timber, natural beauty for recreation and cheap labor. Many barriers exist within this culture when it comes to business support.
Those not self-sufficient and unable to gain independence do need assistance to move up. An Appalachian Value to to help with this and in my position and in my last 27 years of work, I have done this and seen true Appalachians soar upward.
While the lazy, self-absorbed, disinterested and/or generational poor needs assistance and motivation to change, they should never be examples of Appalachian Culture or considered the majority of the Marietta, Ohio/Washington County residents.
Helping to produce positive, caring and responsible citizens is a role many of us take on professionally, privately and as parents. There are those that can use some help and direction getting to where they want to be. There are those who can use some help and influence to get where they NEED to be.
Let's not insult an entire town and a history of culture to appear a "hero"
Was the author of this article ever here? The picture of the house captioned "Jobs are available in and around Marietta, but swaths of the city are mired in poverty because of family breakdown and drug use" has been empty for years and does not even exist anymore.
Barbara MacHaffie May 29, 2014 at 6:52 AM
This article does not mention is the presence of a fine liberal arts college in Marietta, black after block of lovingly restored homes, quality residential sections on the outskirts of town, a constantly growing medical community, walking and biking trails, and parks. There is poverty and drug abuse, not unlike all towns and cities in the US, but there are also many people who spend time and treasure to alleviate it. Alice Chapman's concerns are shared. Let's hope that she does a better job than this article does in teaching her students to be fair and accurate.
Loraine McCosker May 28, 2014 at 7:45 AM
Another look at the dysfunction of Appalachia, while hailing the possibilities of future extraction by fossil fuels. This is offensive and incorrect. Mr. Husock must spend time visiting our counties and reading contemporary academic literature and analysis. Was he paid by oil and gas to write this piece? Offensive. It echoes Moynihan's culture of poverty that many of us choked on in the early 70's.
My hat is off to Howard Husock for a magnificent article. What he writes about Marietta, Ohio is much the same here in our small "city" in Northeast Ohio. Husock has the cultural ethos precisely right. And I'd add that one of the real tragedies is the cultural focus of poor white edge-of-Appalachia Americans who not only have families of enormous dysfunction (single headed households, or households in which one grandparent raises grandchildren), but who also sharply dismiss education as important. There's no culture of learning. Parents or grandparents don't urge the importance of education and schooling on their children. We simply cannot employ the power of the state to impose on parents rules for child rearing; it's not the state's place. Amanda Ripley in her 2013 book, _The Smartest Kids in the World_ urges that a combination of both a strong ethos of education's importance among students and families, *and* strong support for teachers (in the three countries she examines teachers commonly have strong pay, substantial time away from students for professional development each day, and more). After school program efforts are a terrific idea, as is the notion of bringing a culture of caring concern for one's education, learning, work, life. I anguish every day in our small town over the near-complete dysfunction Husock has masterfully characterized.
Much of your background information is incorrect. Did you spend anytime in Marietta while writing this article or was it all "phoned in"? I am not in disagreement with the drug problem that has invaded this area. Anyone with open eyes knows that drug issues have been in this town for many, many years. It simply changed from marijuana and "huffing" in the late 70s/ early 80s to cocaine and meth in the late 80s/ 90s, to its current of prescription drugs and heroin. I would like to know why the principal and other professional mentioned in this article chose to remain anonymous. As a parent of two school age children, I have found that the educators may say they want more parental involvement, but when questioned about assignments, or requesting parent-teacher conferences outside of the two per school year that the district allows, teachers and administrators in the high school and elementary school suddenly become unreachable. The indifference I have seen displayed year after year in the school system by the faculty has much to do with why the schools in Marietta receive a nearly failing grade from the State. Not all single-parent families from disadvantaged circumstances are failing their children and perpetuating the problems that you spoke of in the article. At the age of 40, I enrolled in Marietta College to better my circumstances. Now, six months from receiving a degree from this prestigious institution, I know I will not remain in the area following graduation. The Mid-Ohio Valley does not offer pay in many fields that can support a family of 4 and allow for repayment of exorbitant school loans. So, I will move my family away from the town in which I grew up, to seek prosperity elsewhere. $12.00/ hour will not make ends meet for a family that eats healthy. My eldest son (17) asked how much his food cost was during the summer while training for fall sports. The answer? Nearly $850 to feed an active, non-junk eating athlete that wants to take care of his health. Very few families I know are capable of incurring that sort of expense without some sort of "assistance."
Lake Worth,
"name one thing Pres. Obama did to weaken education"
Challenge accepted,
One of President Obama's first actions as President was to kill the DC schools scholarship for poor kids.
In order to prove his loyalty to the teacher's union.
Easy peasy.
He's a fraud.
Stop the throne sniffing and you will be able to help.
If that's what you really want.
Those aren't Appalachian values. Appalachians I know are hard-working sorts that would die before asking for government help.

You got ghetto values going on. Clue.
NJ's Chris Christie cut the state education budget by $1-billion and moved thousands of Special Needs students from state/local cooperative funding to "privatized" operations. Costs more than doubled, falling 100% on school boards. Same time, he arranged $2.1-billion in tax giveaways to business and more to wealthier state residents.

Yeah, "It's Me" is trying to convert NJ to the West Virginia pattern. (The comment about Obama ??? Name one action that Obama has taken that weakens American education. Good luck at that.)

And btw: West Virginia is like Kentucky that their Oxycodone explosions happened because State Police and local police were too weak to gain control of the medical prescription systems in their states. Legal script was what got so many people addicted initially.

Anti-government legislatures -- yes, an oxymoron -- prevented active law enforcement. Enabling legislation died without votes. Also, running stings on doctors was shut down by a succession of governors. Weak governments in both states served as the enabling accomplices to Oxycodone expansion.
Sy Sims used to use the slogan on his radio commercials: "An educated consumer is our best customer".

Barack Obama and that crowd believe in the slogan: "An educated citizen is our worst nightmare".
The Talmud teaches that "He who saves one life it is as if he saved the whole world".
The best that Ms Chapman and those like her can hope to do is save one child and raise him or her up out of that culture of poverty, dependency, and degradation. As for the rest, they just have to be left in God's hands.
I'd recommend a look at the WhizKids program operated by Cincinnati, Ohio's City Gospel Mission. This is a program that focuses on building relationships between at-risk youth and caring adults who can introduce alternative cultural values and the behaviors that accompany them
Well, Echoes, if you wish to see what Catholic education has done for black ghetto dwellers, just search these pages for Sol Stern's write up of it, called Why Catholic Schools matter. And if it spurs you on to further response, please include why you think Catholicism is the world's oldest Institution, 2,000 years and running? Longer than virtually any nation, world wide charity, and indestructible. A "religious comfort blanket" you allegate? Where would the world be without it? Notice Islam's infestation going on the past decade? Catholicism was the sole barrier against it, but now that atheist and agnostic thinking is so dominant amongst Mensa candidates such as yourself, then please explain why institutional atheism of the communist variety was a "comfort blanket" with over 300 million killed during the 20th century? See for the Black Book of Communism, incisively researched from the Kremlin archives by the authors. Gosh, the Inquisition only accounted for about 3000 deaths over 700 years. Hmmm ... and the Muslims did that well in a single afternoon at the WTC on 9/11. Gosh, we cat-licks have a big job ahead of us if we need to catch up to your world view, eh?
stuart williamson May 19, 2014 at 9:09 PM
take a look at what can be accomplished by a good community college in Wala Walla, WA in the Settle Times nor May 19.
Dear Mr. Husock,
You may be interested in hearing about the Gardere Community Christian School in Baton Rouge. My sister-in-law Nancy Zito was also an outsider from the east coast, but she saw the need for better educational opportunity in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Baton Rouge. The school is several years old now and slowly continues to grow. Funding is always the problem, but the school is getting recognition from the state. You may find her story similarly interesting. Thank you for this inspiring story at a time when there isn't much good news.
Ron Zito
Patrick MacKinnon May 19, 2014 at 1:45 PM
What can I say except BRAVO Alice Ely Chapman!
It is truly wonderful about the work that Chapman is doing in an underserved community. It's quite clear that the vast majority of welfare needs to be eliminated. It does make one wonder why liberals, whether in Chicago, LA, or NYC, think that throwing more money at schools is more important than stressing the 2 R's (respect and responsibility)? Or are those two values considered irrevelant in the black and hispanic communities?
“These pathologies run as deep here as the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers on Front Street-notwithstanding the fact that the city it 97 present white. “ The statistical analysis of this environment states the environment is composed of a homogenous group. Thank you so much Peter1589, for making me want to respond to you. Apparently you found the only mention of African Americans that would allude to one or two percent if any indigenous people are still alive in this part of the country. There was no mention of cocaine which you state are the drugs of choice of the African American for “ingesting.” You want to place blame on a culture of people who are so removed from this neighborhood and incite blame for another groups problems. Then you move on to your religious comfort blanket that makes everything all better. The article states that “...heroin overdoses and meth is made in the back seat of car and prescription-drug black market. 99 percent of the search warrants are drug oriented.” I enjoy a good Scotch single malt Glenfiddich or even a Buchanan and when I am feeling a little less of myself I can slam a Jameson for the Irish salute. Yet I don’t blame the Scotch-Irish community for my indulgences.
Back to the article itself it is very well done. I was without knowledge regarding the factual demographics for this are or the blatant blight. It is indeed devastating when any group suffers. It is a viscous cycle when one is forced into the welfare system and when the offspring thinks that is the only way to live; it perpetuates the downfall of a community. I appreciate Mr. Huscock bringing this to the forefront. However I do take pause to the glorification of some of Mr. Huscock’s sentiments. The wonders of “Victorian”, take it back to England! Austere New England, please the colonization and genocide of the indigenous is not a pedestal you should want to place your object of affection upon. The mention of Cotton Matters as auspicious is deploring to all women. He was a major contributor to the burning and lynching of women, see Salem Witch Trials; lest we forget the problems of the austere New England and their plague upon this land. The money they attained on the death of the indigenous and the backs of servitude of various hues. Forcing their religion on indigenous people and making this land the same as the land they were escaping in the name of religious freedoms. So it is nice that Alice Chapman has all this inherited money and is helping her own people try to advance. There are many other self-indulgent avenues she could have chosen to travel but it is most admirable that she chose the road to rural Appalachia. To education is empowerment and an educated community is a vehicle toward a better universe.
"Economist Thomas Sowell has gone so far as to suggest that the values of the poor, antebellum Scotch-Irish Southern whites who settled the region became the cultural norms into which poor African-Americans eventually assimilated."

And, of course, NEVER would it be conceivable to suggest that the poor whites embraced the African American cultural norms, eh? I mean, the still extant tribal warfare consuming Africa wouldn't be an historical indicator, would it? Jazz, Motown and Rap have dictated SUCH high moral standards, right? Fr. John Corapi once famously stated that during his involvement with people like Ike Turner in LA, he'd see satanic priests invited in to put curses on the cocaine. Once ingested, guess what came in with it? And you wonder why these neighborhoods are in chaotic disarray? As Fr. Payton oft advised in the 1940's, "The family that prays together, stays together." Our PROTEST-ant work ethic champion would be well advised to demand the locals pray the Rosary to put the devil to flight, rather than pander to his lies.