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Posts Tagged ‘parent support’

Paul Krugman’s Op Ed Title “The Plot to Help America’s Children” Nails the GOP’s Mentality and Hypocrisy

February 17, 2021 Comments off

To his credit, Paul Krugman’s article, “The Plot to Help America’s Children“, sticks to the economic argument for increasing the amount of aid provided to parents and increasing the pool of parents who qualify for the aid. He writes:

Indeed, there’s an overwhelming economic and social case for providing such aid, in addition to the moral case.

Yet most conservatives seem to be opposed, even though they’re having a notably hard time explaining why. And the fact that they’re against helping children despite their lack of good arguments tells you a lot about why they really oppose aid to those in need.

The balance of the article presents the “overwhelming economic and social case” for providing the aid while undercutting the major argument against it, which is that it creates a class of welfare dependents.  The positive benefits of offering increased aid are, I believe, self evident. The argument against creating welfare dependents is more nuanced:

Yet conservatives and even some centrists have long argued that compassion can be counterproductive — that attempts to help the less well-off can create perverse incentives that undermine self-reliance and trap people in poverty. So it’s important to understand why these arguments don’t apply to the proposed child credit — why this policy, far from creating a trap, would offer an escape route.

The usual argument against anti-poverty programs is that any form of aid that is tied to income reduces incentives for self-improvement, because households that manage to earn more money end up losing some of that aid. For example, Medicaid is available only to families with low enough income, so taking a job that pushes one’s income above that threshold leads to a loss of health benefits.

When House Republicans released a report on the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, they essentially argued that these perverse incentives are the main reason we haven’t made more progress in reducing poverty, that anti-poverty programs “penalize families for getting ahead.”

There are good reasons to be skeptical about such arguments in general: Relatively few people actually face the extreme disincentives to work that conservatives like to emphasize. In any case, however, these arguments don’t apply at all to child tax credits, which wouldn’t be withdrawn as families’ incomes rose, even if they made it well into the middle class and beyond. To be a bit sarcastic, should we be worried about reducing children’s incentive to choose more affluent parents?

Furthermore, there’s extensive evidence that the real source of the “poverty trap” isn’t lack of incentives, it’s lack of the resources needed for adequate nutrition, health care, housing and more. As a result, helping poor children doesn’t just improve their lives in the short run, it helps them escape poverty.

His disdain for the GOP’s position on taxes and helping those in need is embodied in the title. A party that increasingly embraces wild conspiracy theories likely views this “giveaway” to the poor as a way for the Democrats to win over voters and, therefore, abandons a moral prerogative to help the needy for fear that it might undercut their ability to win elections. This kind of program should have bi-partisan support and, as Mr. Krugman points out, it DOES have the support of at least one member of the GOP: Mitt Romney. But as he notes, Trumpists in the party view Mr. Romney with disdain. He, after all, really believes that families need more help and he wants to offer it to them as directly as possible. Shame on him for having a creative idea to help people! The last time he had such an idea it turned into Obamacare!

Popular Science Big Ideas to Change Overlook One VERY Big One: Stop Doing Tests Used to Determine “Ahead” and “Behind”

February 7, 2021 Comments off

Sabrina Imbler’s Popular Science article titled “4 Big Ideas on Fixing American Schools” opened with two promising paragraphs but ended with a thud. Here are the opening paragraphs:

In the American education system, the kids are not all right. Recent tests show that high schoolers haven’t improved in math or reading for the past 20 years, and middle schoolers have gone backward in their comprehension skills. All this comes after years of expensive education programs like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, which prioritized standardized test scores, not individual growth, to mark progress and groom students for college.

Expert educators contend that schools need to infuse more flexibility, creativity, and community into their practices in order for a diverse student body to succeed. We asked them to lay out the steps for this radical classroom transformation.

The Four Big Ideas came down to this:

  • Play to students’ strengths instead of flagging their deficiencies
  • Equip families to provide more effective support at home
  • ‘Have students spend more time outdoors, which could mean more urban Greenspace
  • Connect traumatized children with caring adult mentors, a role teachers should be expected to play

But the most obvious step American education needs to take is to STOP DOING WHAT IS NOT WORKING! If “years of expensive education programs like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, which prioritized standardized test scores, not individual growth” has not yielded the desired results, why keep doing it? Why waste more precious resources on something that works against the flexibility, creativity, and community needed to achieve success with diverse student bodies?

If we want to change the way we educate children, to make it more personalized, to engage parents, to get children outside, and to connect with children as human beings instead of automatons that spew information that is easy to measure but immaterial in our day-to-day life, why on earth do we keep testing them and using the results to determine who is “ahead” and who is “behind”?

Einstein’s now trite and overused phrase comes to mind: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”… and continuing a regimen of standardized testing and expecting different results is clearly insane.

School Reopening is NOT a Partisan Issue and the GOP Effort to Make it So COULD Backfire

February 5, 2021 Comments off

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The GOP and their allies in the right-wing media outlets are trying to make the complicated school reopening question into a simple partisan issue and, fortunately, it looks like it’s backfiring. As CNN reports:

The debates over when and how and whether to put American kids back in is taking on a predictably partisan tinge in Washington, with Republicans targeting teachers’ unions and Democrats over perceived resistance to reopening.

But it’s more complicated than that. The fight over schools slices through red and blue America.

It’s complicated because, as noted in earlier posts, in some districts the unions have nothing to do with the reluctance to reopen: it’s the parents! And it’s also complicated because the POTUS’ decision made nearly a year ago left the decision on setting standards for reopening a STATE decision and not a FEDERAL one and most states, in turn, made it a LOCAL: one instead of a STATE one. And so in a border community like the one I live in commuters from VT to NH have different COVID guidelines and vice versa… and the reopening guidelines can vary from district to district as well. It’s also complicated because a majority of parents whose children are presumably suffering the most– low income and Bipoc children— do not want to send their kids to school because they are the groups suffering most from the pandemic. How can the GOP advocate parental choice for schools but then claim that parental choice about returning to schools is invalid? And even more hypocritical on the part of the GOP is one of the reasons parents in low income and racially diverse districts are loathe to have their children return to school is that the facilities themselves have inadequate ventilation because they’ve been starved of resources because of the GOP’s anti-tax position.

None of this matters to the GOP who have shown our country that their strategy is to win at all costs and to ignore the will of the public their “choice” language notwithstanding. The more the GOP makes the mandatory reopening of schools an issue they “own” the more the public will begin to appreciate that the GOP is not s party willing to listen to voters: it is a party that only cares about the bottom lines of business.