Friday, August 19, 2011

A stretch to ignore all the factors that keep kids in poverty while emphasizing "access to great schools"

In this interview with the Stand for Children Executive Director on a New England morning show, both the journalist and the director seem to dance around the causes of rising childhood poverty to get to the SFC mantra of "access to great schools". Both overreach in their attempt to reconcile rising poverty with another poll of public school parents who express satisfaction for their local schools.

Public schools are prone to be used as a scapegoat for poverty in this country when in reality it is caused by broad systemic and market-based inequalities of opportunity in this country.

A representative with the foundation that conducted the poverty studies insisted on the PBS Newshour last night that childhood poverty can be fought with more a robust unemployment insurance system, child tax credits, vigorous pre-natal and childhood health care, and a commitment to education in a broader sense than "access to great schools". I would add to those remedies a more equitable wage system, perhaps a "living wage" for families with children. We should not underestimate the impact of our market system on the shrinking middle and working class as the wealthy continue to sock profits away for themselves rather than paying fairly for labor.

To a certain extent Stand for Children seems to thrive off dissatisfaction with public education and propensities, both conservative and liberal, to blame the institution for a host of ills in American culture. So, I'm not surprised that both the director and the sympathetic journalist were turning cognitive cartwheels trying to deal with the fact that parents are generally satisfied with their local schools.

The organization requires a state of crisis in need of superheroes in order to attract more resources, but the crisis of poverty isn't easily attributable to villainous public schools. We already have a better, more comprehensive explanation for the causes of increased poverty that is also more consistent with findings on attitudes toward schools.


  1. on your unemployment insurance system comment...a friend made a suggestion which i thought was good that if people collected unemployment they also had to do community service work in return for the benefit. I like the idea as it would be good for the long as the person was doing community service work they would collect unemployment. Of course, need to figure out time for them to do job searches but it seems a doable solution to extending the service work included infrastructure work, too. Seems like a win-win solution...system doesn't get abused and people are productive working to improve their community and maintaining a sense of pride while being productive...

    thanks for the link to the interview...I wonder about stand for children...

  2. You misconstrued the comments made in the video.

    Schools are not being blamed for poverty; they are being held up as "the great equalizer" that can help lift people out of poverty.