"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Obama to Impoverished and Homeless Schoolchildren: No Excuses

No one knows how many homeless families or homeless children there are in America because no office of the corporate government cares enough to count them. We do have this from a report issued by FirstFocus:
In a voluntary survey conducted during the fall of 2008 by the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth and First Focus:
  • 330 school districts identified the same number or more homeless students in the first few months of this school year than they identified the entire previous year.
  • 847 school districts identified half or more of last year’s caseload in the first few months of this school year.
  • 459 school districts had an increase of at least 25 percent in the number of homeless students identified between the 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 school years.
And these numbers were from before any of the effects of the Wall Street heist of the century hit Main Street.

The NYTimes reported yesterday said that there are maybe a million homeless schoolchildren across America, sleeping under bridges, in campgrounds, in cars, or sleazy motels. The Financial Times reported Friday that 40 percent of those who receive food stamps have jobs, jobs that don't pay enough to support a family:
The number of working Americans turning to free government food stamps has surged as their hours and wages erode, in a stark sign that the recession is inflicting pain on the employed as well as the newly jobless.

While the increase in take-up is often attributed to the sharp rise in unemployment – which on Friday hit 9.7 per cent – the Financial Times has learnt that some 40 per cent of the families now on food stamps have “earned income”, up from 25 per cent two years ago.

The agriculture department, which runs the programme, attributes this rise to workers having their hours cut back.

“I’m sort of stunned, it seems like a dire warning . . . that even the jobs people are retaining in this recession aren’t at the wage level and hours level that they need to provide for their families,” said Heidi Shierholz, economist at the Economic Policy Institute. . . .

Meanwhile, states are on the brink of bankruptcy and unemployment insurance is running out. The jobless rate is almost 10 percent, without figuring the other 6-7 percent who have given up and don't don't bother to register anymore. The cost of groceries continues a steady climb, while the size of food containers continues to shrink. The great scam of unregulated capitalism has been exposed for the fraud that it is, and no one in the corporate government seems concerned. None of the 35,000 lobbyists in Washington represents the homeless or the working millions on food stamps. They represent the corporate oligarchy that owns Washington, companies like Microsoft and Exxon Mobil, which had $10.9 billion in profit in 2007, whose CEO, Rex Tillerson was paid $21.7 million that same year.

So, then, what will President Obama say to the hungry, poor, and homeless schoolchildren of America tomorrow? What message of hope will he offer? Will he say that help is on the way, that there is someone who cares, that there is a nation committed to making sure poor children's dreams won't founder, that they will have a hand to reach out to?

Not quite. For the President has chosen the script of the bare-knuckled ideologues who refuse to even acknowledge poverty, much less do something about it. Mr. Obama's bosses have him orating to the rhythm of "No Excuses," despite the mountain of empirical data on the debilitating educational effects of poverty and its attendant corrosions. Mr. Obama, the messenger of hope and change, thus offers the same old lie to the another generation of children poorer than their parents, with nowhere to go except down:

. . . .But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life - what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you've got going on at home - that's no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That's no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That's no excuse for not trying.

Where you are right now doesn't have to determine where you'll end up. No one's written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future. That's what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.. . .

That, or looking for food. As Chris Hedges notes, 50 million Americans live in real poverty, with tens of millions of other "in a category of 'near poverty'." Such crimes against humanity in a nation so rich will not go unpunished by history, if there is one.

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