Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Child Poverty and Our Lost Decade

This blog, directed at education employees has often dealt with economic justice issues, simply because those issues are so entwined with education and educators. Nothing brings that home like the new statistics on childhood poverty.

First, it should be noted that when we think of the poor, we should know that one in three people in poverty in the US is a child. Next, looking at children as their own group, be aware that one in four children in our country lives in poverty. In just one year, that's next year, 2010 we will have 26.6% of children in poverty.

The researchers at the Economic Policy Institute are calling the decade of 2000 to 2010 a lost decade because the child poverty rate rose an amazing 10.4% in those years.

In the midst of this devastation of our young are the clarion calls for educators to do more, raise the test scores, ground children in the basics at the same time we give them skills for the future, and while your at it make sure you all do something about youth drug use, violence, and promiscuity.

One does not need a doctorate in economics or sociology to understand that the increasing disparity in the distribution of wealth and skyrocketing child poverty rates makes education daunting.

Every child can learn, but the ones with hungry bellies, poor health, homes broken by the stresses of poverty, parents working several jobs, and no permanent residences, may just skew the numbers a bit. Ahhh, therein is the problem, they are numbers; low numbers on a standardized test...leading to numbers not adding up to Adequate Yearly Progress...leading to reduced pay in some foolish merit pay scheme...on and on. Of course kids are not just numbers and neither are the educators who work with them.

We need a war on poverty, not a war on educators and their unions.

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