Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Poverty in the United States

I'm working on my next post, and it's going to be about after-school programs and their affects on academically at-risk children with a particular focus on latino migrant children.  However, it's slowly becoming more and more detailed and complicated.  There's quite a bit of research here.  And I'd like to make it a substantive post.

In the meantime, here's this amazing piece by Paul Tough of the New York Times on urban poverty in the United States, the deepest soft-spot for President Obama.

[What we know now about poverty and how to truly reverse it (it's going to take not just money, but a lot of concentrated, directed money)]:

Americans know how to use their government to remediate a certain kind of poverty. If a family does not have enough food to eat or money to survive, we know how to issue food stamps or cut a check. But when children are growing up in a home without the kind of stability and support and order that they need to succeed in life, Americans don’t always know — and certainly don’t always agree — on what we want the government to do. We generally agree that we want the government to help increase opportunity and social mobility. But we don’t like the idea of the government meddling in the home lives of private families. And so we’re in a dilemma: the biggest factor holding back social mobility for poor children may be one we don’t have a good strategy to solve — and it may be one we don’t feel comfortable even addressing at all.
What [we] need more than anything else is an antipoverty strategy that is much more comprehensive and ambitious than what exists there today, an approach that focuses on improving outcomes for children from birth through adolescence.
[Most importantly, however:]
Obama laid out an ambitious agenda [as candidate] to do just that [fight urban poverty]. At its center was a proposal to expand the work of Geoffrey Canada and his organization, the Harlem Children’s Zone, which takes an intensive and comprehensive approach to child development in a 97-block high-poverty neighborhood in central Harlem, providing poor children with not just high-quality charter schools but also parenting programs, preschools, a medical clinic, a farmers’ market, family counseling and help with college applications. 
To reduce poverty, and provide our children with the futures they deserve--we need a 360 degree plan.  Yes, it's going to be huge.  It's going to be liberal.  It's going to be a lot of government.  But we need to do it because no one else can or will.

We need not just focus on quality schools, but the environment in which the children in these schools live in.  Why don't we get that?

As Obama said, we have to heal entire communities.  Sure, we can continue debating the question, "Where does personal responsibility end and government intervention end?"

Or, we can do something.  It's hard to be personally responsible when no one cares.

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