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by Julian D. Cross
My name is Julian Cross and I am a senior at The Memphis Central High School. In addition to that I serve as president of Memphis Central’s Student Council, and as a Memphis Youth City Council Member. I am approaching my fourth summer as a participant of the city of Memphis MPLOY Youth Program Summer Experience.
Recently, I read an article that was written by Ms. Mackenzie Lampner in which she was demonstrating and proving the need for more funding in the City’s Youth Job program. I agree with Ms. Lampner that the City needs to allocate more funds for the MPLOY Youth Program.
However, a large portion of the information in the article is inaccurate.
Ms. Lampner begins the article using quotes from the city of Memphis Letter from the Mayor document, which includes the 2018 FY Proposed to Adopted Budget. She says, “ The actual increase in funding to the MPLOY Youth program was only $150,000, which only funds an additional 250 positions for summer youth employment.”
I’m not sure how Ms. Lampner calculated the $150,000 being the actual increase for 250 participants. As a participant in the MPLOY Program, the cost to increase the program by 250 participants exceeds $150,000.
The budget for the program includes the maximum amount a participant may earn. Based on the calculations Ms. Lampner includes in her article, the maximum amount would be $600 for each participant. If she were to further her research, she would find that MPLOY assigns participants to groups based on age and education level. There is no group where a student would earn a maximum of $600 for the summer.
Later in the article Ms. Lampner adds, “The MPLOY program’s requirement for a participant to be in school only perpetuates societal inequities and ensures that out-of-school youth remain uneducated with menial, if any, employment.” This statement is completely incorrect.
The MPLOY Youth Program has offered Career Technical Education & Training courses since the inception of the program. This means that non-traditional participants – youth who may not be on the education track – are served as well.
The comments made by Ms. Lampner clearly imply that the MPLOY Youth Program is turning away a particular group or groups of youth, which is false. This careless mistake lets me know, as a reader of The New Tri-State Defender, that a writer on your team is allowed to provide information to the community that is inaccurate, which is unfortunate. (Editor’s Note: The referenced article was a submitted opinion piece.)
In addition to the previous errors that I’ve mentioned, Ms. Lampner says, “The MPLOY program chooses participants through a random lottery system with spaces allocated to school districts dependent on their students’ overall relative economic disadvantages…” This information is inaccurate as well.
MPLOY participants are selected through a randomly-generated lottery system and are invited and potentially placed based on their rank in City Council District, not school district. This information can be found on the City of Memphis Youth webpage (cityofmemphisyouth.org). In regards to students’ relative economic disadvantages, household income has never been a factor in the acceptance of youth into the program. Therefore, nothing is dependent upon an applicants disadvantage or advantage. This information can be found on the City of Memphis Youth webpage as well.
Please understand that this letter is not to depreciate or undervalue the importance of the purpose behind Ms. Lampner’s article, but to instead challenge her to effectively research before publishing false or inaccurate information.