Posts Tagged ‘Guns in School’

Federal Policy for Schools: Billions for Safety, Nickels and Dimes for Well-Being

June 6, 2021 Comments off

Nick Kristof’s column, Turning Child Care Into a New Cold War”, sent me to the internet in search of data to support my theory that our nation has chosen safety over well-being when it sets its priorities… and the more I dug into that premise the more I saw it as symptomatic of our country’s growing pains. 

Kristof uses the GOPs position on funding child care as evidence of its hypocrisy on the position of family values. His opening paragraph sets the stage:

We Americans like to think “We’re No. 1,” but one recent study found that the United States was the second worst out of 35 industrialized countries as a place for families. We ranked behind Bulgaria. Behind Chile. 

Now we have a historic chance to support children and families, for President Biden’s American Families Plan proposes programs such as high-quality day care and pre-K that are routine elsewhere in the world. You might think that the “pro-family” Republican Party would be eager to translate platitudes into practical help. But you’d be wrong.

He then describes the misleading comments of the nominal thought leaders of the GOP who decried the “American Families Plan” as a government invasion of the private lives of citizens. 

But as I noted in a comment I left, this is further evidence that America has chosen safety over the well-being of its citizens. We are willing to spend $2,700,000,000 per year on “education” for security features like surveillance cameras and door locks and billions more for SROs but “can’t afford” to provide adequate counseling, mental health services, and nurses for schools? Worse we use lots of bandwidth in the media publicizing the fights to secure “Swiss army knives” (aka AK-47s) for every citizen preventing the ability of child advocacy groups to highlight the ongoing fights for the provision of services for every child in our country. When politicians are as responsive to the advocates for the well-being of children as they are to the NRA we’ll begin making progress in areas like child care. But buying guns, cameras, and door locks provides tangible evidence that “we are doing something” to ensure the safety of every child. Well-being is more abstract. It is harder to define and harder to illustrate.

But here are a couple questions that might shed some light on the question of safety versus well-being. Would the presence of surveillance cameras and the visible presence of armed police make you feel more secure. Would the police departments ability to possess military grade equipment help you sleep more soundly at night? Does the fact that your neighbor might have AK-47s and other military grade weapons at his disposal make you feel more secure? And last, but not least, does the fact that the federal government provides over 22% of the funding for police while providing 8.3% of the funding for schools make you think that we might be closing the gap between the United States and Bulgaria when it comes to the quality of life for families? Bottom line: we might want to reconsider our spending priorities as we move forward. 

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NH Refusal to Take Benefits Hurts FAR More Families Than Initially Reported… But the GOP and Business Community Don’t Care

June 1, 2021 Comments off

As Rick Green of the Granite State News Collaborative notes in an article that appears in our local newspaper this morning, GOP Governor Chris Sununu’s decision to withdraw from the federal unemployment payments hurts far more people than originally reported. He writes:

Much has been made of the fact that unemployment compensation checks will be reduced by $300 per week in New Hampshire on June 19 because Gov. Chris Sununu is joining other Republican governors in opting out of a federal pandemic aid program.

But what might not be so well known is that about 15,000 people — nearly half of those receiving unemployment in the state — will lose all unemployment benefits as of that day because the governor is also taking the state out of other federal programs that expand and extend unemployment benefits.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is one of those programs. It covers 8,600 people in the state who would not otherwise be eligible to receive unemployment compensation, some of them self-employed.

This includes those who have COVID-19, people living in a household where someone has it, those providing care to a family member who has it, people who have become the main support for a household because the breadwinner has died of the disease and those who had to quit a job as a direct result of the disease.

Another 6,500 people will lose their benefits because they were covered under Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which expanded the length of time for receiving benefits. Normal state coverage lasts for six months.

Extensions under the federal program boosted this to about a year.

About 32,000 people are receiving unemployment compensation in New Hampshire, and about half of these can continue to receive benefits through the state program.

What the article fails to note is that many of the INDIVIDUALS receiving these benefits are breadwinners in FAMILIES  and those families include children.

This entire episode involving support for unemployed families is partisan politics at its worst. There is not a single Democrat led State that has refused to accept these funds because not a single GOP member voted to approve them. Both parties are beholden to the billionaires who bankroll their campaigns, but only the GOP is so beholden to business that they would deny funds to families whose “…breadwinner has died of the disease and those who had to quit a job as a direct result of the disease.” But at least the children can secure a voucher to attend a private religious school and they can get a gun to protect themselves if someone tries to break into their home— assuming they have one after they are unable to pay the rent. 

Infrastructure is More Than “Hard Stuff” Like Roads, Bridges, and Power Lines… It’s Child Care and Care for Aging Adults… And MAYBE if We Broaden THAT Definition We Can Look Again at School Safety

April 17, 2021 Comments off

Anne Marie Slaughter’s NYTimes Op Ed article, decrying the narrow definition of “infrastructure” adopted by the GOP and many centrists (i.e. neoliberals) in the Democratic party calls for a more expansive definition that would create a “Care Economy” in our country similar to that in place during World War II. She suggests we imagine “...a scenario in which those same men didn’t have wives at home and yet still wanted to have children, or to ensure that their own parents received love and support in their final years” and then notes that such an imagined world DID exist not that long ago:

That is exactly what the men in Congress concluded when the government was actively recruiting women into factories to produce the equipment and weapons needed to fight World War II. In 1941, they passed the Defense Public Works law of 1941 (known as the Lanham Act) to provide for the building of infrastructure like water and sewer treatment, housing and schools, all of which were recognized as necessary supports to the war effort. Two years later, Congress relied on this authorization to allocate $52 million (about $800 million today) to build over 3,000 federally subsidized day care centers.

And Ms. Slaughter then reminds readers that this wasn’t only true decades ago, it was true a year ago!

That is even what the federal government concluded just last year, under the Trump administration. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued guidance on who should be considered “essential critical infrastructure workers.” It included child care workers of many kinds and “human services providers” bringing things like food and personal care to “older adults, people with disabilities, and others with chronic health conditions.”

How then, she asks, can anyone having lived through the past year disagree that child care and service provision for elders is not an important element of our infrastructure? And the fact that the census reported that “some 1.6 million fewer mothers living with school-age children were actively working compared with a year before. Some 705,000 of those moms had “given up on work outside the home entirely” makes it clear that our workforce NEEDS the child-care infrastructure for these female workers to go back to work.

In reading about the need for a more expansive definition of “infrastructure” I couldn’t help but think that we needed a similarly expansive definition of school safety. So far school safety funding consists of metal detectors, door locks, video cameras, and student resource officers. As I have written frequently, “hardening” schools without providing counseling and social workers is divisive and counterproductive. But the public and politicians believe that the infrastructure needed to “harden schools” is limited to durable goods and enforcement of the law. We’ve spent billions on durable goods that reinforce fear, adapt children to surveillance, and promote the notion that the rule of law consists of close monitoring by individuals in uniforms. Maybe a broadening of the definition of “school safety” is in order at the same time as our definition of “infrastructure is redefining.

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