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

Monday, August 27, 2012


Talk Poverty, from The Nation

Mariana Chilton of Children's Health Watch, testified before Congress in 2007 about childhood hunger and poverty. She said of the Congressmen, "Their eyes glazed over."  Five years later things have only gotten worse and the 600 pound gorilla in the room then is now at least 2 tons.

Meanwhile, the steady drumbeat of accountability for teachers, test scores and competition is deafening. Yet, the silence on increasing poverty, growing numbers of working poor, underemployed and unemployed, is just plain horrifying. 

Those who should be held accountable have successfully shifted the focus and the conversation to the teachers and education, with a promise that education is the way out of poverty and teachers and public schools are the problem. 

The smoke and mirrors are everywhere as a failed, leaderless, spineless government beholden to its corporate bosses can no longer provide its citizens with basic protections like safe streets and the necessities of life such as health care and education for its most vulnerable children.

Instead, both parties have joined together to pressure teachers to raise test scores of these tired, hungry, fearful and anxiety ridden kids, so they will have a successful life and be a productive member of society with a beautiful future - perhaps in prison. Prison is even more lucrative than education.

1) One quarter of America’s young children under age 6 are living in homes that are food insecure—meaning their families report that they do not have money to buy enough food for an active and healthy life. Food insecurity negatively affects the cognitive, social and emotional development of young children. This cripples their readiness for school and future school performance. 
2) Before the recession, 70 percent of households with food-insecure children had at least one parent that was employed full-time. Such a high percentage of “working hungry” American families suggests that US corporations and businesses are not paying adequate wages for American families to keep food on the table. 
3) Currently, one in seven Americans (about 45 million people—half of whom are children) are receiving help from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. SNAP is the single most important program to prevent hunger and promote healthy eating. In addition, healthcare research shows that SNAP prevents hospitalizations, promotes child development and improves school performance. The recent Farm Bill negotiations and proposed federal budget from the House recommended major cuts to the SNAP program. (There were significant cuts in the Senate version too.) These cuts will increase hunger and its associated costs that Americans will see in our schools, hospitals and pediatric clinics.
4) Economists demonstrate that 40 percent of the people who are born into poverty will stay in poverty, suggesting very low mobility for poor Americans, and especially women. Low mobility disproportionately affects African-American and Latina women. If one looks at their wealth—the total value of one’s assets minus debts—single African-American and single Latina women have a median wealth of about $100, while the median for single white women is $41,500. (This despite the fact that there were more white women in poverty in 2010 than African-American and Latina women combined; and white, African-American and Latina women participate in the cash assistance (TANF) program inequal proportions.) Around the world, leaders have recognized that investing in women and girls—through group microfinance programs and access to banking services, for example—helps not only to improve their lives but lift an entire nation and boost GDP. 

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