Key Kerner Commission Recommendations

*Note: The following are key recommendations the Haas Institute has compiled from chapters 11 and 17 of the Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (aka the Kerner Report).

I. EMPLOYMENT

1) Consolidating and concentrating employment efforts.
a) Every city should establish an agency with authority to direct the coordination of all manpower programs, including employment service, community action agencies, and other local groups.
b) The existing experimental mobility program should be greatly expanded and should support movement from one part of a metropolitan area to another.
c) Aid to local public transit under the Mass Transportation program should be similarly expanded on the basis of an existing experiment with subsidies for routes serving ghetto areas. 
d) A single, cooperative, national effort should be undertaken with the assistance of business, labor, and industrial leaders at the national, regional and local levels… with the authority to channel incentive funds to private employers. 

2) Open the existing job structure
a) Federal, state and local efforts to ensure equal opportunity should be strengthened by
1. including all government employers under Title VII’s antidiscrimination purview
2. Granting the EEOC cease and desist power
3. Increasing technical and other assistance now provided through the EEOC to state and local commissions.
4. Undertaking industry wide enforcement not based upon individual complaints, but employer and union reports showing broad patterns of discrimination in employment and promotion.
5. Substantially increasing the staff and other resources of the EEOC.
b) Efforts of the Dept of Labor to obtain commitments from unions to encourage negro membership in apprenticeship programs… should be intensified.
c) Title VI [should be used to enforce] recruitment for federally assisted job training in hospitals, universities, colleges, and schools. 
d) The Federal government, through the Civil Service Commission and other agencies, should undertake programs of recruitment, hiring, and on-the-job training of the disadvantaged and should re-examine and revalidate it’s minimum employment and promotion standards. 
e) Increase the federal minimum wage and widen it’s coverage. 

3) Creating 1 million new jobs in the public sector in 3 years.
a) Emphasis in public employment programs should be shifted from work experience to on-the-job training. Federal assistance should be scaled so that it does not terminate abruptly; the public employer should pay progressively larger share of the total cost as trainees’ productivity increases. 
b) Public employers should be required to pay on-the-job trainees not less than minimum or prevailing wage in the area for similar work, whichever is higher.
c) We recommend a 3-year program aimed at creating 250,000 new public service jobs in the first year and a total of 1 million over the three-year period.
d) The Department of Defense should intensify its recruiting efforts in areas of high employment so that young men living there are fully aware of the training and service opportunities open to them.

4) Creating 1 million new jobs in the private sector in 3 years. 
a) The direct reimbursement system currently used in on-the-job training programs should be expanded and the existing programs should be consolidated under a single administration. These programs include (see p.421).
b) The … reimbursement must exceed the approximately $1,000 per year payment now made under Federal on-the-job training programs, and, for the hard-core unemployed, should at least equal $3,500…
c) A tax credit system should be geared to a fixed amount for each certificated employee hired and retained for at least a 6 month period, with decreasing credits for retention for additional periods totaling another 18 months. No credit would be allowed if existing employees were displaced or if the turnover rate amount certificated employees during the period exceeds more than twice the usual turnover rate. A realistic goal is $150,000 jobs in the first year and 1 million over a 3- to 5 year period.

5) Developing urban and rural poverty areas.
a) A tax credit should also be provided for the location and renovation of plants and other business facilities in urban and rural ‘poverty areas’ as already defined by several federal departments and agencies. 
b) The credit should be available for firms investing or expanding in rural poverty areas.

6) Encouraging Business Ownership in the Ghetto
a) Special encouragement to negro ownership of business in ghetto areas by expanding small business administration equity and operating loan programs to higher risk ventures and promoted through offices in the ghetto. 
b) Such loans should be actively encouraged among local lending institutions.
c) Counseling and managerial experience should also be provided. 

 

II. EDUCATION

1) Increasing Efforts to eliminate de facto segregation: Substantially increase aid to school systems seeking to eliminate de facto segregation either within the system or in cooperation with neighboring school systems.  
a) Such strategies include school pairing, busing, open enrollment, boundary changes, strategic use of site selection, enlargement of attendance areas, and consolidation of schools to overcome racial imbalance. 
b) Title IV should be reoriented and expanded into a major federal effort to support state and local desegregation projects. This should include technical assistance and operating grant program. 
1. Successful implementation will require repeal of a present statutory prohibition against provision of assistance to support and encourage desegregation through ‘assignment of students to public schools in order to overcome racial imbalance.’
2. The Title IV program might well be modified to provide substantially increased support upon attainment of specified levels of racial integration.  
3. This program should stimulate the development of exemplary city or metropolitan schools designed to attract, on a voluntary basis, students of varying racial and socio economic backgrounds. [Magnet programs]
c) Eliminate discrimination in northern schools.
1. Apply Title VI uniformly in all states to investigate and ensure compliance in school districts in all 50 states. 

2) Provide Quality Education in Ghetto Schools
a) Improving the quality of teaching in ghetto Schools. 
1. Attract and train high quality people to the teaching profession through programs such as the teacher corps by using the EPDA. 
2. Intensive in-service training programs designed to bring teacher candidates into frequent contact with inner-city schools is required.
b) Year Round Education for Disadvantaged Students.
1. Through ESEA [provide] large scale, year round educational programs in the disadvantaged areas of our cities.  Innovative programs tailored to educational needs, and providing a wide range of educational activities (verbal skills, culture and arts, recreation, job training, work experience and camps). Planning on a 12 month basis is required with technical assistance provided for planning. 
2. As a step towards year-round education, Federal funds should be made available for school and camp programs this summer. 
c) Early Childhood Education – Expand and scale up comprehensive preschool programs.
1. Expand Head Start and other preschool programs to all children from disadvantaged homes with funds from the office of economic opportunity. 
2. They should be tailored to children and not simply custodial care.  They should be designed to overcome the debilitating effect of a disadvantaged environment on learning ability. 
3. Early Childhood programs should involve parents and the home, as well as the child.  This can be accomplished through community education classes, and use of community aides and mothers assistance. Should be tied to prenatal testing. 
4. These programs should include provisions for medical care and food.
d) Improve Elementary School educational practices. 
1. Extra incentives for highly qualified teachers working in ghetto and economically and culturally deprived rural area schools. 
2. All school systems should consider service in such schools as a condition for advancement to administrative positions.
3. Reduction in maximum class size.
4. Recognition of the history, culture, and contribution of minority groups to American civilization in textbooks and curricula of all schools. 
5. Provision of supplementary services in the schools for the severely disadvantaged or disturbed students. 
6. Individualized instruction through extensive use of nonprofessional personnel. 
7. Title I should be modified to provide for greater concentration of aid to school districts having the greatest proportion of disadvantaged students (exclude affluent school districts with less than specified minimum numbers of poor students). 
e) Improving Educational Practices – Secondary Schools.
1. In addition to applying the programs suggested above, secondary school students require extensive guidance, counseling and advice in planning education programs and future careers. 
2. Fully fund programs to motivate students to stay in school.
3. Provide a year round program to improve verbal skills of people in low income areas by scaling up federal literacy programs. 
4. Fund research on effective methods of teaching disadvantaged children in schools segregated by race and class.

3) Improving Community-School Relations
a) Community Participation in the Educational Process Should be Encouraged.
b) Ghetto Schools should serve as community centers. 
c) Use local residents as teachers aides and tutors (such as Vietnam veterans)
d) Results of Achievement and Other Tests should be made public on a regular basis. 

4) Expanding Opportunities for Higher Education
a) Expand Upward Bound and Establish Special 1-0year Post graduate College Preparatory School.
b) Remove Financial Barriers to Higher Education by providing grant assistance and other financial assistance commensurate with need/demand.
c) Loan forgiveness

5) Expanding Opportunities for Vocational Education
a) Better link vocational training programs to job opportunities by combining formal instruction and on-the-job training. Cooperation of the business community needed. 
b) Full implementation of such programs for high school drop outs.
c) Eliminate barriers to vocational programs. [cherry picking]
d) Follow-up support and assistance
e) Increased training to meet demand in professional, semi-professional and technical fields.

 

III. THE WELFARE SYSTEM

1) Provide more adequate levels of assistance based upon uniform national standards

2) Extension of AFDC-UP 

3) Reduce the burden on state and local government by financing the cost of assistance almost entirely with federal funds.

4) Work Incentives and training – 
a) Provide more job training 
b) provide day care centers for children
c) Allow recipients to retain a greater part of their earnings

5) Removal of Freeze on Recipients [a temporary budget decision]

6) Remove Restrictions on Eligibility

7) Develop a national system of income supplementation to provide a basic floor of economic and social security for all Americans. 

 

IV. HOUSING

1) The Supply of housing suitable for low-income families should be expanded on a massive basis. 
a) Production of 600,000 low and moderate housing units next year and 6 million units over the next 5 years.
b) An expanded and modified below-market interest rate program.
c) An expanded and modified rent supplement program and an ownership supplement program.
d) Federal write-down of interest rates on loans to private builders.
e) An expanded and more diversified public housing program.
f) An expanded Model Cities Program.
g) A reoriented and expanded urban renewal program [careful to avoid the problems]
h) Reform obsolete building codes.

2) Areas Outside of ghetto neighborhoods should be opened up to occupancy by racial minorities
a) Enactment of a national, comprehensive and enforceable open-occupancy [Fair Housing] law.
b) Re-orientation of Federal housing programs to place more low and moderate-income housing outside of ghetto areas. 

 

V. POLICE AND THE COMMUNITY

1) The Need for change in police operations in the ghetto to ensure proper conduct by individual officers and to eliminate abrasive practices.
a) Police misconduct, including 1) indiscriminate stops and searches, 2) Physical abuse, and 3) Harassment and “contemptuous and degrading verbal abuse,” or discourtesy, must be curtailed. 
b) Police departments must develop rules prohibiting such misconduct and vigorously enforce it. 
c) Police commanders must be aware of what takes place in the field and take firm steps to correct abuses. 
d) Departments must use greater care in selecting police for ghetto areas, and place the best, not the worse, officers there. Screening procedures must be developed along with better training and incentives or bonuses.
e) Officers with bad reputations among residents in minority areas should be reassigned to other areas. 
f) New Patrol practices must be designed to increase the patrolman’s knowledge of the ghetto. 
1. Motorized patrol should be more limited. 

2) The need for more adequate police protection of ghetto residents, to eliminate the high sense of insecurity to person and property.
a) Police Departments should have a clear and enforced policy that the standard of law enforcement in ghetto areas is the same as in other communities. 
b) Complaints and appeals from the ghetto should be treated with the same urgency and importance as those from white neighborhoods. 
c) Departments should review existing deployment of field personnel. 

3) The need for effective mechanisms for resolving citizens’ grievances against the police.
a) Making a complaint should be easy.  It should not be necessary to go to a central headquarters to file a complaint. 
b) A specialized agency, not an internal review board (which is inadequate), should be created separate from other municipal agencies, to handle, investigate, and make recommendations on citizens complaints. 
c) The procedure should have built in conciliation process to attempt to resolve complaints without the need for full investigation and processing. 
d) The complaining party should be able to participate in the investigation and hearings… 
e) The complaining party should be promptly informed of the outcome. The results should be made public. 
f) Since many complaints concern policies rather than conduct, such complaints should be forwarded to the departmental unit which formulates policy and procedure.  

4) The need for policy guidelines to assist police in areas where police conduct can create tension. 
a) There should be clear guidelines 
1. for when a policeman should order a social street gathering to breakup
2. For handling a minor dispute, including resources for referring citizens.
3. The decision to arrest, especially for specific crimes, such as social gambling, vagrancy, and loitering, and other crimes which do not involve victims. 
4. The selection and use of investigated methods, including field interrogations and “stop and frisk” techniques.
b) Safeguarding the right to free expression
c) Clear circumstances in which force should be used. 
d) The proper manner of address for contacts with any citizen.  

5) The need to develop community support for law enforcement. 
a) Recruitment, assignment and promotion of Negroes in police departments should be intensified.  [NOTE: “Recruitment of more Negro officers alone will not solve the problems of lack of communication and hostility towards police”]
1. Review promotion policies for equity
2. Assign negro officers as to ensure visibility in the department. 
b) Community service officer program should be adopted. 
c) Community relations programs