Posts Tagged ‘vicious cycle of poverty’

1,000,000 Students Will Go Hungry if GOP Plan is Fully Implemented

December 5, 2019 Leave a comment

The NYTimes Lola Fadulu reported today that a recent change in regulations in the Trump administration will result in “hundreds of thousands” losing access to food stamps with a like number of students losing ready access to free or reduced lunches. As critics of this change note, this change is the result of the GOP’s mindset that hundreds of thousands of people want to be dependent on the government for food stamps and they are unwilling to work the hours needed to improve their lot in life. As for their children, they are, in effect, collateral damage.

The article describes the GOP’s desire to curtail these government programs in the name of eliminating dependency. Of course one way they could eliminate dependency on “costly programs” that “handout food to lazy individuals” seeking a “government dole” would be to increase the minimum wage to a level where fewer people would qualify for the program… or compel businesses to schedule workers to long enough work shifts that they would be able to earn living wage… or ensure that people have sufficient money to afford housing and food. But such actions would cramp the profits of corporations (or in the favored parlance of the GOP “hurt small businesses”) and require government regulators. Better to punish the “lazy” than reward hard work with a living wage.

A Short, Blunt Case Against Philanthropy

November 30, 2019 Comments off

Axios offers a succinct explanation of how philanthropy is undemocratic. After reading this it is not hard to connect the dots between “charitable giving to charter schools” and profiteering billionaires.

NYTimes Deceptive Headline and All But One of Their “Picks” Mislead Readers

November 27, 2019 Comments off

The NYTimes headline to an article written by Erica Green and Eliza Shapiro reads:

Minority Voters Chafe as Democratic Candidates Abandon Charter Schools

There are at least four problems with this headline and the article.

The first is this fact, which is buried near the end of the article:

Black and Latino approval for the (charter) schools remained basically steady at about 47 percent for each group.

47% hardly constitutes a majority of “minority voters” and I daresay if you asked them a narrower question, one that reflects the actual position of the Democrats, they would lean toward the positions the candidates are actually, taking, which is not “abandonment” but rather “regulation”.

Which brings me to the second point: each and every candidate quoted was not opposed to ALL charters. Indeed, the most progressive of the candidates, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, made it clear that they opposed deregulated and/or for-profit charters.

The third problem is that the NAACP, arguably a voice for African Americans, took a stand against charter schools in 2016 that is, in fact, the basis for both Warren’s and Sanders’ positions, a fact that the article DID highlight:

Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders say their education plans would address the causes of educational inequality, in part, by significantly increasing funding for high-poverty schools.

Both plans echo the N.A.A.C.P., which called in 2016 for a moratorium on new charter schools. Mr. Sanders has gone further than Ms. Warren by linking charters to school segregation.

Josh Orton, a spokesman for Mr. Sanders, said the senator believed that “all students deserve a world-class public education, regardless of their ZIP code.” He added that “too many charter schools are unaccountable and contributing to privatization.”

Finally, the article references the progressive candidates’ position of cutting federal funding for schools without noting the facts referenced in yesterday’s post noting that nearly 25% of the $4,000,000,000 allocated went to schools that never opened!

To make matters worse, the article went overboard posting fingers at unions as the driving force behind the shift away from charter expansion. And not only did they do so in the article, they amplified this position in the comments they selected as “picks” with the two leading ones deriding unions as greedy and uninterested in the welfare of children.

I could go on… but instead I am going to paste in a comment by Chris Gray, of Chicago that captures my thinking on the NYTimes coverage of this issue perfectly:

This is a very deceptive article. The data point given shows that fewer than half of black and Latino Democrats approve of charter schools, even as they’ve plunged much lower among white Democrats. Most of the “activists” cited in this article are simply representing the interests of their financial backers and racializing support for charter schools because they know how that plays in Democratic quarters and liberal media outlets set up to focus on identity politics. These faux activists aren’t really representing blacks and Latinos, they’re representing money. Charter schools provide a means to privatize and capitalize on public schools. They divert tax money from the socialized system into one that is set up for the benefit of capitalist investors. They cherry-pick the best students and leave the rest in the old system, and even then they don’t show better results overall. The problem with the education of low-income minorities is one of poverty and institutional racism. The problem is not public schools. Setting up a separate system where Wall Street receives a dividend primarily helps Wall Street, which is paying for this astroturf activism.

Elizabeth Warren’s Charter Funding Cuts Misrepresented

November 26, 2019 Comments off

Unsurprisingly yet maddeningly the mainstream press continues to misrepresent Elizabeth Warren’s proposal to cut federal funding for charter schools, a misrepresentation that is at best unwittingly misleading and at worst intentionally so. A recent article by Carol Burris and Kevin Welner that was reprinted in Valerie Strauss’ Washington Post column explains how the plan has been presented incorrectly:

…The commentary (of those who oppose Warren’s plan) hinges on this claim: that Warren’s “education platform includes eliminating federal funding for charter schools.” In reality, Warren’s plan would greatly increase the federal funding provided to…charter and public schools.

To understand why, consider two other elements of Warren’s education plan. First, she proposes quadrupling Title I funding so that it rises to levels that have long been pledged by Washington politicians but never reached. Secondly, and similarly, she would more than double federal funding for students with special needs served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) — again aiming for levels long promised but never fulfilled.

Both Mr. Welner and Ms. Burris have done extensive research on the charter schools that benefitted from federal funding and each independently came to the same conclusion: over $1,000,000,000 of the $4,000,000,000+ went to charter schools that never opened and a lion’s share of the money went to charter chains:

The federal Charter Schools Program, which began as a modest experiment in 1995, has turned into a cash cow for a number of organizations that lobby on behalf of charter schools, for real estate developers through its facilities program, and for the huge multimillion dollar charter chains that are constantly seeking to expand.

Warren’s proposal is to stop this waste while also providing greater support to all schools, both public and charter, as they do their best to provide learning opportunities to students in real need.

In short, Ms. Warren seeks to redirect public funds to public institutions and eliminate the middleman: the profiteers who seek to increase revenues by cutting costs and limiting compensation for workers. Such ideas fly in the face of what passes for conventional wisdom– that businesses operate more efficiently than public institutions— in this case “government schools”– and the market place can best sort out winners and losers. Changing THAT paradigm seems to be every bit as difficult as changing the paradigm that students must be batched by age cohorts and tested annually to ensure that they are making progress. Our schools will never improve as long as those paradigms remain in place.

NYTimes Editorial Board Connects the Dots Between LI Housing Discrimination and Schools

November 22, 2019 Comments off

As noted in a post yesterday, Newsday investigative reporters recently provided evidence that realtors on Long Island discriminate in a way the prevents prospective minority home owners from seeing homes in predominantly white communities and vice versa. The result: persistent segregation.

Today’s NYTimes editorial, “Jim Crow South? No. Long Island Today“, elaborates on the damage that results from this steering toward segregated neighborhoods and towns:

In a country where homeownership has long been the way to build wealth, discrimination in housing is uniquely harmful. It is the chief reason behind the deep segregation in New York’s public schools, which is among the worst in the country.It also helps explain the startling racial gap in wealth in the United States. The median wealth of white Americans is $134,000, according to the Economic Policy Institute. The median wealth of black Americans is $11,030.

Americans would find it unfathomable if schools or water fountains were labeled “White Only,” as was commonplace across the South just several decades ago. They would be kidding themselves to think this kind of discrimination in housing, without the labels, is any less pernicious.

The editorial board goes on to offer a solution to the problem that is on the books but not in full effect:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a former head of the federal housing department, said in February 2016 that New York would launch a “fair housing enforcement program,” using paired testing and beginning in Buffalo, Syracuse and New York City’s northern suburbs. But Newsday found that the state has not conducted any additional paired testing after that initial round of 88 tests.

Oops! I guess enforcement costs money and the Governor wouldn’t want to spend money to enforce laws that would disrupt housing patterns! Better to use the money to disrupt the way schools operate. You see both the Governor and the NYTimes editorial board see the “solution” to the “deep segregation” in NYC and elsewhere as being “disruptive faces” like school choice and the takeover of “failing schools” by privatizers.

The NYTimes editorial board has connected the dots between housing discrimination and public schools… will they connect the dots and realize that without an infusion of funds the effects of this discrimination will not be readily overcome?

Cory Booker and Other “Pro-Choice” Neo-Liberals: PLEASE Speak Out Against this The Way You Have Against “Failing” Schools

November 19, 2019 1 comment

This Newsday investigative report reveals an appalling truth about “choice”: if a black family chooses to live in an affluent community on Long Island they will likely be steered away from those populated predominantly by whites. As I posted yesterday, Cory Booker and all Democratic Party Presidential candidates should be picking up the torch for integrated housing instead of picking up the torch for for-profit schools.

Cory Booker Should Learn the Lessons His Parents Taught Him… Not the Ones He Learned on Wall Street

November 18, 2019 Comments off

Cory Booker wrote an op ed article for today’s NYTimes… an article that is a screed of sorts reinforcing his insistence that charter schools and choice should be an acceptable solution to the problems of racism and persistent poverty. Taken as a whole, the article comes across as a scold for folks like me who see a Presidential candidate’s viability based on their willingness to take a clear and unequivocal stand against for charters overseen by unelected boards and the market-based concept the GOP calls “choice”. Mr. Booker’s essay was especially disappointing given the story he told about his parents’ experiences in trying to enroll him in a high quality school:

…When I was a baby, they fought to move our family into a community with well-funded public schools. These neighborhoods, especially in the 1960s and ’70s, were often in exclusively white neighborhoods. And because of the color of my parents’ skin, local real estate agents refused to sell my parents a home. My parents responded by enlisting the help of activists and volunteers who then set up a sting operation to demonstrate that our civil rights were being violated. Because of their activism we were eventually able to move into the town where I grew up.

There is a clear lesson Mr. Booker cold have learned from this experience: affluent communities that provide parents with “well-funded schools” need to open their doors to homebuyers of all races. Unfortunately, Mr. Booker DIDN’T learn this lesson from his parents. Instead he learned that there is money to be made if schools are privatized and those who see this are very happy to open their wallets to help someone like Mr. Booker get elected so long as he supports their ideas.

Here’s my bottom line: Charter schools and choice are no substitute for the infusion of funds needed to create equitable opportunities for children. Nor do they offer those raised in poverty to enroll their children in schools outside of their community. As mayor Cory Booker had no way to offer Newark parents a choice to attend “well funded schools” in those communities where local real estate agents refused to show his parents a home. As Mayor Cory Booker had no way to secure more state funding for his schools, funding needed to upgrade outdated facilities and secure the additional staffing needed to support the children raised in poverty. Under those circumstances, charters might be the only viable alternative available. Cory Booker isn’t running for Mayor. He’s running for President. As a candidate I would like to see Mr. Booker work on policies that make it possible and profitable for children of all races to live where they choose to live and to have rich and poor students have access to the same resources as the “well-funded” schools his parents fought for him to enroll in. Charter schools and choice are eye-wash policies that sidestep the real problems children of color and children raised in poverty face.