This is a beautiful and moving interview with the First Lady of Ukraine.

To understand the courage and pain of the Ukrainian people, please watch this.

It may break your heart.

When Ron DeSantis entered Congress, he joined the Freedom Caucus, the far-right members of the House. His very first vote was in opposition to aid for the victims of Hurricane Sandy, which pummeled New York City and the New Jersey coast.

The New York Times noted:

As a freshman congressman in 2013, Ron DeSantis was unambiguous: A federal bailout for the New York region after Hurricane Sandy was an irresponsible boondoggle, a symbol of the “put it on the credit card mentality” he had come to Washington to oppose.

But any hurricane that harmed a Red state got his vote. Four years after opposing federal aid for Sandy relief, he supported aid for victims of Hurricane Irma, which affected his own state.

The Washington Post wrote about GOP hypocrisy on hurricane relief. When a hurricane hits a Red state, they are for it. In the rare instance when the disaster is in a Blue state, not so much.

The GOP movement to question spending on disaster relief began to pick up amid the debate over Hurricane Katrina aid in 2005. Only 11 House Republicans voted against the $50 billion-plus package, but others cautioned that they’d be drawing a harder line moving forward, particularly if the spending wasn’t offset with cuts elsewhere.

“Congress must ensure that a catastrophe of nature does not become a catastrophe of debt for our children and grandchildren,” said future vice president Mike Pence, then a congressman from Indiana.

After the tea party movement took hold around 2010, members began to hold that line. A $9.7 billion flood relief bill for Hurricane Sandy was considered noncontroversial, even passing by voice vote in the Senate. But 67 House Republicans voted against it, including DeSantis.

Then came a larger, $50 billion Sandy bill. Fully 36 Senate Republicans voted against it, as did 179 House Republicans — the vast majority of GOP contingents in both chambers (again including DeSantis). They objected not just because the spending wasn’t offset, but because they viewed it as too large and not sufficiently targeted in scope or timing to truly constitute hurricane relief.

By the time 2017 rolled around, though, DeSantis wasn’t the only one who didn’t seem to be holding as hard a line. Despite the bill lacking such spending offsets, the GOP “no” votes on a $36.5 billion aid bill for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria numbered only 17 in the Senate and 69 in the House.

Such votes show how malleable such principled stands can be, depending on where disaster strikes.

For instance, only three of 18 House Republicans from Florida voted for the larger Sandy bill, but every one of them voted for the 2017 bill that included aid for their home state.

Likewise, of the 49 House GOP “yes” votes on the larger Sandy bill, nearly half came from states that were directly affected, including every Republican from New York and New Jersey.

One of those New Jersey Republicans was Rep. Scott Garrett, who actually introduced the smaller Sandy bill. Just eight years before, he had been one of those 11 Republicans who voted against the Katrina package.

If you comb through all of these votes, you’ll notice that, the larger Sandy bill aside, lawmakers who come from states that are particularly vulnerable to hurricanes (i.e. along the Gulf Coast) are generally less likely to be among the hard-liners — perhaps owing to the fact that they know their states could be next in line.

That’s where DeSantis’s votes do stand out. On the first Sandy bill, he was one of just two Florida Republicans to vote no, and very few members from the Gulf Coast joined them.

It’s a stand that served notice of his intent to legislate as a tea party conservative; he cast the vote just a day after being sworn in to Congress.

Democrats don’t seem to have the same problem. They typically support disaster aid, even in Red states.

It’s also noteworthy that DeSantis has switched gears in addressing President Biden, whom he usually refers to as “Brandon” (a rightwing synonym for “F… you, Biden”). Now, for the moment, he calls him “Mr.President.” And he can be sure that Democratic President Biden will respond with federal aid for the victims of Hurricane Ian in Florida.

Politifact reports how DeSantis and Rubio voted on hurricane relief.

Greg Brozeit is a valued reader of the blog who is deeply knowledgeable about German history. In a private communication, he expressed to me his disappointment about Ken Burns’ “The U.S. and the Holocaust.” We agreed that Burns’s singular focus on Hitler’s Jewish victims slighted the other categories of people that he targeted for annihilation. They included Communists, socialists, trade unionists, the disabled, homosexuals, and Roma, as well as priests and nuns who opposed his monstrous regime. I invited Greg to write about his objections, and he did. Greg reminded me of the famous lines spoken by the German Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemoller, who was initially a supporter of Hitler but turned against the Nazi regime as he realized Hitler’s murderous ambitions:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

—Martin Niemöller

Greg Brozeit wrote:

The story of the Holocaust is about how the “other” could be created and marginalized through inhumane policies and practices supported by large swaths of people.

Or, if they were not supporters, they had been conditioned over years to live in fear and had little-to-no sense of civic duty or civil courage. That is a complex story in which Jews were specifically targeted, the most numerous of many contrived “groups” of victims. A large number of those classified as German Jews, who were eliminated or driven out of the country, viewed themselves as Germans first and Jews second. Both identities were equally important to many of them. The distinction was lost and later imposed on them.

I often cite the diaries of Victor Klemperer for one reason -they are the only personal, contemporary observations of what actually happened by someone who was “fortunate” to be last on the list of Jews who were to be eliminated in the
final solution. He was one of the latter; one thing few Americans know and his publishers do their best to hide from Americans is that Klemperer returned to Dresden and became a professor and loyal citizen of East Germany until his death. It would have been interesting to read his view of the Berlin Wall had he lived long enough to witness it. He knew he was persecuted by Nazis because they imposed the definition of Jew on him, one he never internalized. He was almost a victim of the Holocaust, but he would have classified himself as not being Jewish long before others would make him a Jew.

After watching the PBS/Burns program on the U.S. and the Holocaust, I was disappointed that he missed so many opportunities to tell a larger story. Burns rarely veered from the “Holocaust = six million Jews” argument and consequently undermined the message that I (and perhaps the producers) had hoped for. The term “Holocaust” is also used for political, not humanitarian or historical, purposes—the definition Burns’ narrative (naively or intentionally) underscored. And therein lies my problem. A casual viewer might easily get the impression that from the 1930s to the end of WW II, Jews were the only victims of the Holocaust. The actual history is more complex.

By focusing only on Jews we risk serious dishonor to the memory of the six million—a view confirmed in my mind after reflecting on the title of Malcolm Nance’s book, “They Want to Kill Americans.”

Nazis claimed they were eliminating Jews and other undesirables to strengthen Germany. They started out by killing Germans: communists, trade unionists, social democrats, writers, artists, ethical conservatives, Protestants, Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Scientists, gays and lesbians, persons with developmental disabilities, political opponents, those who weren’t acquiescent to the new order, AND Jews, both those who identified themselves so and those who did not. Focusing almost exclusively on any one of these groups risks breeding resentment and isolation. It certainly diminishes the broad inhumanity of the Holocaust.

An accurate recounting would never gloss over the genocidal priority the Nazis tragically bestowed upon Jews, but neither would it underplay the fate so many others were consigned to in this tragedy. And in fairness, Burns occasionally hinted at this reality. In the film’s final hour a doctor who took pride in the T4 program to eliminate persons with developmental disabilities was highlighted.

But the narrative all too quickly returned to the storyline of “aggressions against only Jews.” While Burns gives an excellent introduction to US policy on Jews and the Holocaust, the series title, “The U.S. and the Holocaust,” is misleading and inevitably expands (and eventually disappoints) the expectations and hopes for viewers who are not novices. The real story of the wide compass of inhumanity subsumed under the Holocaust is a profound lesson relevant to our present circumstances. Sadly, the program missed this larger opportunity.


Tom Ultican has been following the Destroy Pubkic Education movement closely. He is encouraged by the energy behind the community schools movement. But he’s also concerned that the corporate reformers and profiteers might find a way to undermine it or take it over.

He writes:

Community school developments are surging in jurisdictions across the country. Since 2014, more the 300 community schools have been established in New York and this month Education Secretary Miguel Cardona was touting them at an event in Pennsylvania. In May, the California State Board of Education announced $635 million in grants for the development of these schools and in July, California disclosed a $4.1 billion commitment to community schools over the next seven years. However, some critiques are concerned about a lurking vulnerability to profiteering created by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

What are Community Schools?

For decades America has turned a blind eye to the embarrassing reality that in many of our poorest communities the only functioning governmental organization or commercial enterprise is the local public school. No grocery stores, no pharmacies, no police stations, no fire stations, no libraries, no medical offices and so on leaves these communities bereft of services for basic human needs and opportunities for childhood development. Community schools are promoted as a possible remedy for some of this neighborhood damage.

The first priority for being a community school is being a public school that opens its doors to all students in the community…

There has been some encouraging anecdotal evidence from several of the original community schools. In March, Jeff Bryant wrote an article profiling two such schools for the Progressive, but there are also bad harbingers circling these schools. In the same paper from Brookings quoted above, there is a call to scale the “Next Generation Community Schools” nationally. They advocate engaging charter school networks and expanding ArmeriCorps. Brookings also counsels us, “Within the Department of Education, use Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) guidance and regulations to advance a next generation of community schools.”

Brookings was not through promoting a clearly neoliberal agenda for community schools. Their latest paper about them notes,

“There is a significant and growing interest in the community schools strategy among federal, state, and local governments seeking to advance educational and economic opportunities and address historic educational inequities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Building off this momentum and with support from Ballmer Group, four national partners—the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution (CUE), the Children’s Aid National Center for Community Schools (NCCS), the Coalition for Community Schools (CCS) at IEL, and the Learning Policy Institute (LPI)—are collaborating with education practitioners, researchers, and leaders across the country to strengthen the community schools field in a joint project called Community Schools Forward.” (Emphasis added)

Steve Ballmer was Bill Gates financial guy at Microsoft and is the billionaire owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. His Ballmer Group recently gifted $25,000,000 to the City Fund to advance privatization of public education in America. This is the group that funded the supposedly “unbiased” report from Brookings.

John Adam Klyczek is an educator and author of School World Order: The Technocratic Globalization of Corporatized Education. New Politics published his article “Community Schools and the Dangers of Ed Tech Privatization” in their Winter 2021 Journal. Klyczek declares,

“Bottom-up democracy through community schools sounds like a great idea. However, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the federal legislation funding pre-K-12 schools that replaced “No Child Left Behind,” requires ‘full-service’ community schools to incorporate public-private partnerships that facilitate ‘wrap-around services’ managed by data analytics. Consequently, ESSA incentivizes the corporatization of community schools through ‘surveillance capitalism.”’

He contends that ESSA’s mandate for “full-service” public-private partnerships creates “structured corporatization” paths similar to those in charter schools.

There is more about the perils facing community schools. The corporate data hawks are circling.

The historian Heather Cox Richardson puts the situation in Ukraine into context. Please open the link to read her footnotes and consider subscribing to her excellent blog.

After a two-month stalemate, earlier this month Ukraine launched a game-changing counteroffensive against the Russians occupying their eastern territories of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia.

Over the summer, Ukrainian forces destroyed Russian arms, command centers, and supplies behind Russian lines with U.S.-supplied long-range High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), then began to talk of a counteroffensive in the south, near Kherson. To guard against such a move, Russia moved many of its soldiers from the northeast to Kherson, leaving its northeastern troops stretched thin.

On September 6, Ukrainians moved, but not near Kherson in the south. Instead, they struck hard on the weakened northeastern lines, cutting quickly through the stretched and disheartened Russian occupiers and capturing more than 6000 square miles in less than a week. Russian troops abandoned their weapons and fled.

Russian president Vladimir Putin had launched the war on February 24 with the expectation that a lightning-quick attack would give him control of Ukraine before other nations could react, much as when he had invaded Crimea in 2014, or Georgia in 2008.

But he did not reckon with the careful rebuilding and training the Ukrainian military had undergone since 2014 as it worked to hold off Russia. He also misjudged the strength and commitment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which former president Trump had worked hard to dismantle. In office only a year at that point, President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken had made reconstructing the world’s democratic alliances a top priority.

Those alliances held against Russia’s invasion of a sovereign nation as they had not before when Putin had bought appeasement with promises: “Don’t believe those who try to use Russia to scare you, who say that, after Crimea, other [Ukrainian] regions will follow,” he said in 2014. “We don’t want to carve up Ukraine. We don’t need this.” In 2022, international sanctions began to bite into and then to bring down the Russian economy, while shipments of weapons and economic support kept the Ukrainians supplied. Rather than a quick, successful strike, Putin found himself in a drawn-out and deeply unpopular conflict.

The Ukrainian counteroffensive tightened the screws further. Putin responded to it on September 21 by hinting that he might use nuclear weapons and calling for what initially was described as “partial” mobilization, a move he had tried to avoid because of its potential to turn the Russian people against him. Immediately, Russian men headed for the country’s borders, while civilians and draftees, provided with few supplies and no training, began to resist.

Putin also announced that the four occupied regions would hold referenda on joining Russia and would be part of Russia as soon as those referenda occurred, so any attacks on them would be considered attacks on Russian territory. With this upfront admission that the vote was predetermined, Putin’s move was clearly designed to enable him to keep the Ukrainian territory he seems about to lose. It also violated international law by attacking another nation’s sovereignty, and Biden and other democratic leaders condemned it in advance.

Then, on September 26, the Nord Stream pipelines on the floor of the Baltic Sea that send natural gas from Russia to Europe appear to have been sabotaged with TNT in what appears to have been a warning that Russia could attack the critical infrastructure of NATO countries. In this case, neither of the pipelines was in use, and blowing them up might simply have been a way to get rid of them in such a way to collect insurance on assets that are losing value as Europe turns to alternative energy.

But the explosions might also have been a warning that the seven major pipelines delivering Norwegian gas to Europe could be next. Former president Trump promptly “truthed”: “Do not make matters worse with the pipeline blowup. Be strategic, be smart (brilliant!), get a negotiated deal done NOW. Both sides need and want it. The entire World is at stake. I will head up group???”

Today, in a televised ceremony, Putin announced that the sham referenda had taken place and that “there are four new regions of Russia.” The four territories, which Russia does not fully control, cover about 18% of Ukraine. Putin’s speech seemed to indicate a concern that the countries under his sway are sliding away. He focused on the “West,” claiming that Russia itself is under attack from western democracies. “The West is looking for new opportunities to hit us and they always dreamt about breaking our state into smaller states who will be fighting against each other,” he said. “They cannot be happy with this idea that there is this large country with all [these] natural riches and people who will never live under a foreign oppression.”

He offered to negotiate for an end to the war, but said that the “four new regions of Russia aren’t up for negotiation.”

Journalist Anne Applebaum, who is a specialist on Central and Eastern Europe, identified Putin’s actions as a war not just on Ukraine, but on world order and the rule of law, a system embraced by the democratic world. It is, she writes in The Atlantic, “a statement of contempt for democracy itself.” That world order says that big countries cannot attack smaller countries and that mass slaughter is unacceptable. In contrast, in Putin’s world, she writes, “Only brutality matters.”

Secretary of State Blinken tweeted: “Today, we took swift and severe measures in response to President Putin’s attempt to annex regions of Ukraine—a clear violation of international law. We will continue to impose costs on anyone that provides political or economic support for this sham.”

In turn, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky announced that Ukraine is applying for “accelerated ascension” into NATO. Ukraine’s membership in the organization would require other NATO countries to send troops to fight Russia. Admission to NATO requires the consent of all 30 members, and that consent is unlikely to materialize in the midst of a war, but Zelenky’s announcement overshadowed Putin’s.

Zelensky appealed to the ethnic minorities conscripted into Russian armies not to fight, telling them that more than 58,000 Russian soldiers had already died in Ukraine and warning them that they do not have to die for Putin. If they do come, he warned, those who are sent without dog tags should tattoo their names on their bodies so the Ukrainian authorities can inform their relatives when they are killed.

“The United States condemns Russia’s fraudulent attempt today to annex sovereign Ukrainian territory,” President Biden said. “Russia is violating international law, trampling on the United Nations Charter, and showing its contempt for peaceful nations everywhere. Make no mistake: these actions have no legitimacy.”

The U.S. announced new sanctions against Russians and Russian entities and will continue to provide aid to the Ukrainians. In what sounded like a reference to the damaged pipelines, Biden told reporters “America’s fully prepared with our NATO allies to defend every single inch of NATO territory, every single inch,” Mr. Biden said, adding: “Mr. Putin, don’t misunderstand what I’m saying.”

Meanwhile, Ukrainian troops have advanced around the city of Lyman and appear to be on the cusp of encircling the Russian troops there. Lyman is a key logistics and transportation hub, and the Institute for the Study of War, a think tank, says its loss “will likely be highly consequential to the Russian grouping.”

The Urban Assembly is a group of nearly two dozen schools in New York City that are specialized but whose admissions are not competitive. They are not charter schools. They are affiliated with the New York City Board of Education. The organization released the following statement:


Prioritize Equity, Not Screens 

We are disappointed by the news that the current administration has prioritized a return to screens in the middle and high school admissions process. This pushes against the Urban Assembly’s value of providing all students with access to high-quality education and supporting schools and educators to meet students where they are.

UA Schools remain committed to both unscreened admissions practices and excellence in student education and opportunity. High-quality schools do not result from screening out young people, but from educating them. The Urban Assembly honors the teachers and administrators who tirelessly devote themselves to elevating all students, leading to innovations that solve challenges in education rather than exacerbate them.


At UA, we are proud to have been at the vanguard of innovation in public education for 25 years. Just as UA values around postsecondary outcomes and SEL are now educational values, I look forward to the day that all schools value high-quality unscreened public education that is accessible to all students. We will continue the work to bring about that day. 


In the coming weeks, I look forward to sharing examples of UA innovations in supporting all students with the current administration and district leaders in the pivotal moment, to promote equity in education in New York City. 

David AdamsCEO, Urban Assembly

New York City has a large number of schools with competitive admissions. Some, like the Bronx High School of Science and Stuyvesant High School, are protected by state law because their graduates are successful and vocal and oppose any loosening of the entrance requirements they met. Many additional screened schools were added during the administration of Mayor Bloomberg, perhaps hoping to hold onto the relatively small number of white students in the public schools. Asian American families strongly defend test-based admissions policies, and their children are over-represented at the most selective schools.

Mayor Adams, who controls the city’s public schools, announced a restoration of screened admissions.

The New York Times reported:

New York City’s selective middle schools can once again use grades to choose which students to admit, the school chancellor, David C. Banks, announced on Thursday, rolling back a pandemic-era moratorium that had opened the doors of some of the city’s most elite schools to more low-income students.

Selective high schools will also be able to prioritize top-performing students.

The sweeping move will end the random lottery for middle schools, a major shift after the previous administration ended the use of grades and test scores two years ago. At the city’s competitive high schools, where changes widened the pool of eligible applicants, priority for seats will be limited to top students whose grades are an A average.

The question of whether to base admissions on student performance prompted intense debate this fall. Many Asian American families were particularly vocal in arguing that the lotteries excluded their children from opportunities they had worked hard for. But Black and Latino students are significantly underrepresented at selective schools, and some parents had hoped the previous admissions changes would become permanent to boost racial integration in a system that has been labeled one of the most segregated in the nation.

“It’s critically important that if you’re working hard and making good grades, you should not be thrown into a lottery with just everybody,” Mr. Banks said, noting that the changes were based on family feedback.

It is surprising that a city with an African-American Mayor, who controls the city school system, and an African-American schools Chancellor, would revive screened admissions for the city’s middle schools and high schools. Some high schools have competitive admissions that are mandated by the state legislature. Most admission screens, however, are a matter of policy. They exist because of decisions by the Mayor and the Chancellor.

Just in from the New York Civil Liberties Union:

NYCLU Statement on Screening in NYC Schools

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 30, 2022

MEDIA CONTACT: Mohamed Taguine, 212-607-3372, media@nyclu.org

NEW YORK – New York City’s school chancellor David C. Banks announced on Thursday the City’s selective middle and high schools can once again use grades to choose which students to admit. In response, the New York Civil Liberties Union issued the following statement from Education Policy Center’s director Johanna Miller:

“Screening props up a separate and unequal school system and feeds the notion that only some students deserve a great education. Allowing middle and high school screens is a step backward that will increase the exclusion of Black, Latinx and lower-income students from our city’s best educational opportunities.

“In the most segregated school system in the country, we will never make progress without intentional measures. Instead of using precious education dollars to discriminate, we urge this administration to center racial equity, advance inclusion, and help our students heal and grow together.”

***

Congresswoman Lauren Boebert of Colorado is known for her love of guns and God. The Denver Post spoke to several experts on Christian nationalism, and they agreed that she is an extreme voice for her religious beliefs. She won the Republican primary in her district and is near certain to win re-election for her extremist views. No matter what the Founding Fathers wrote, no matter what the Constitution says, Boebert foresees the reign of Christ in the days ahead. She is a proud religious zealot.

U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert’s pattern of pushing for a religious takeover of America, spreading falsehoods about the 2020 presidential election and warning of an impending judgment day amounts to Christian nationalism, religious, political and social experts say.

Those ideals threaten the rights of non-Christian — and typically non-white — Americans but also endanger the foundation of the country’s democratic process, those experts say. The far-right Western Slope congresswoman represents a high-profile and incendiary voice in the movement, which is infiltrating virtually every level of American government and its judiciary.

Boebert leaned on those talking points Friday — in her official capacity as a member of Congress — at the Truth & Liberty Coalition’s From Vision to Victory Conference in Woodland Park.

“It’s time for us to position ourselves and rise up and take our place in Christ and influence this nation as we were called to do,” Boebert, of Silt, told the crowd, which responded with applause…

“We know that we are in the last of the last days,” Boebert later added. “This is a time to know that you were called to be part of these last days. You get to have a role in ushering in the second coming of Jesus.”

Boebert and her contemporaries, whether in Congress, state or local governments, can be expected to increase the volume and frequency of their Christian nationalist rhetoric as the November midterm elections approach and even beyond, Philip Gorski, a sociologist and co-director of Yale’s Center for Comparative Research, said.

“This is new and worrisome,” Gorski said. “There’s an increasing number of people saying ‘We’re in this battle for the soul of America. We’re on the side of good and maybe democracy is getting in the way. Maybe we need to take power and if that means minority rule in order to impose our vision on everybody else then that’s what we’re going to do.’”

Boebert’s comments Friday in Woodland Park serve as a dog whistle for violence, said Anthea Butler, chief of the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Religious Studies. Especially in the context of the congresswoman’s penchant for firearms and her framing the issue around the November elections….

“I believe that there have been two nations that have been created to glorify God. Israel, whom we bless, and the United States of America,” Boebert said in June. “And this nation will glorify God.”

In the same address Boebert said she was “tired of this separation of church and state junk” and claimed that God “anointed” Donald Trump to the presidency….

She doesn’t explain why her God anointed a man to the Presidency who has no religious beliefs and is known for adultery, lying, and cheating his fellow citizens.

Boebert is perhaps best known for her gun-rights advocacy and said this summer that Jesus had been killed by Romans because he didn’t have enough assault rifles “to keep his government from killing him.

She blamed a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, which left 19 students and two teachers dead, on “godlessness that is here overtaking America” and she frequently says drug use and violent crime are on the rise because of the Latin American people illegally immigrating through the southern border.

“It’s the idea that government power should be in the hands of ‘real Americans’ and those ‘real Americans’ are defined by an ethnoreligious category that usually entails white conservative Christians,” Kristin Kobes DuMez, a professor of history and gender studies at Calvin University, said. “This is not compatible with democracy.”

The end goal for certain sects of Christian nationalism, which subscribe to so-called Dominion theory, is to conquer what are called the “seven mountains” or seven areas of influence, Gorski said. They are family, religion, education, media, entertainment, business and government.

“Once they do, that will trigger the second coming of Christ,” Gorski said, citing their prophecy.

Boebert is moving in those circles, which also have ties to militia groups, Gorski added.

I wonder if there will be room in Boebert’s new world for people who don’t share her beliefs?

Jan Resseger, outstanding advocate for children and the common good, argues in this post that we DO know how to reduce child poverty and must pursue that goal. I agreee. When I realized the high correlation between poverty and academic failure, I saw that the best way to improve education is to improve the lives of children. I thank Jan for being one of the people who taught me that crucial lesson.

She writes:

This blog has strongly advocated that Congress should enact legislation to make permanent last year’s temporary expansion of the Child Tax Credit. New research confirms the urgency of Congressional action on the Child Tax Credit this year.

Two weeks ago, the U.S. Census reported* a stunning drop in poverty among U.S. children in 2021, largely thanks to the Biden Administration’s action—temporarily for 2021 alone—to expand the Child Tax Credit and make it fully refundable under the American Rescue (COVID-relief) Act. That expansion of the Child Tax Credit ended in 2022. Now it is apparent that unless Congress acts to restore what was a temporary reform to the Child Tax Credit, millions of American children will fall back into poverty.

The U.S. Census created a new measure of poverty in 2011, the Supplemental Poverty Measure, which reflects how government programs like SNAP, school lunch benefits, and refundable tax credits supplement family income and reduce poverty. The Census Bureau’s new report explains: “The SPM (Supplemental Poverty Measure) extends the official poverty measure by accounting for many of the government programs that are designed to assist low-income families but are not included in the official poverty measure. The SPM also includes federal and state taxes and work and medical expenses… Though the SPM does not replace the official poverty measure, it provides a different metric of economic well-being that includes resources from government programs and tax credits to low income families.”

In their September 13 report, using the SPM measure, U.S. Census Bureau researchers documented an extraordinary reduction in child poverty during 2021: “The SPM child poverty rate fell 46 percent in 2021, from 9.7 percent in 2020 to 5.2 percent in 2021, a 4.5 percentage-point decline. This is the lowest SPM child poverty rate on record.” “The decline in the SPM rate for children was largely driven by stimulus payments and the refundable Child Tax Credit, which led to increased resources for families with children.”

To review: In the American Rescue (COVID-relief) Act passed in the spring of 2021, Congress made several significant changes in the Child Tax Credit: raising the maximum Child Tax Credit from $2,000 to $3,600 per child through age 5, and $3,000 for children age 6-17; allowing families to receive a Child Tax Credit for 17-year-olds; sending the payments monthly instead of once a year, and making the Child Tax Credit fully refundable for the year 2021. Making the Child Tax Credit fully refundable was an extremely significant reform. While, since 1997, families with comfortable incomes have qualified for the full Child Tax Credit, until the American Rescue (COVID-relief) Act, families with such small incomes that they pay little income tax received only a partial credit and not the full amount. Families without any income (who do not pay federal income tax) could not qualify at all for the tax credit. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explained in a November 2021 report: “Prior to the Rescue Plan, 27 million children received less than the full Child Tax Credit or no credit at all because their families’ incomes were too low. That included roughly half of all Black and Latino children and half of children who live in rural communities… This upside-down policy gave less help to the children who needed it most. The American Rescue Plan temporarily fixed this policy by making the tax credit fully refundable for 2021.”

When the new Census data came out on September 13, the President of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Sharon Parrott, immediately released a statementinterpreting the significance of the drop in U.S. child poverty: “The data for 2021 show that the nation knows how to reduce poverty, broaden opportunity, and expand coverage. Temporary measures drove progress… The new data show that due chiefly to the Child Tax Credit, child poverty fell sharply in 2021 and reached a record low of 5.2 percent, as measured by the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM)…. As recently as 2018, 13.7 percent of children were below the SPM poverty line.”

Parrot scrutinizes the meaning of Congress’s temporary action last year to reduce American child poverty: “The Child Tax Credit expansion drove the large reduction in child poverty between 2020 and 2021…. In the absence of the expansion, child poverty would have fallen to 8.1 percent, rather than 5.2 percent, and some 2.1 million more children would have lived in families with incomes below the poverty line. The year-to-year decline in the child poverty rate was the largest on record (4.5 percentage points). Child poverty rates plunged widely across racial and ethnic groups…. For Black non-Latino children, the poverty rate fell to 8.3 percent in 2021 from 17.2percent in 2020…. This is stunning progress—in 2018 nearly 1 in 4 Black children lived in families with incomes below the poverty line. In 2021, fewer than 1 in 10 did… In 2021, poverty among Latino children fell to 8.4 percent and for American Indian and Alaska Native children it fell to 7.4 percent.”

Washington Post columnists, Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent believeCongressional action permanently to expand the Child Tax Credit would redefine our society morally: “We can choose to make our economic arrangements fairer. We can make collective decisions that children shouldn’t be disadvantaged at a very young age through no fault of their own. Making the choice to alleviate poverty early in people’s lives… puts children on a path to becoming healthier, happier, more fulfilled, more productive adults.”

Please read the rest of this important post. When I am asked what one thing I would do to improve students’ educational success, I invariably answer: “Reduce child poverty.”

Why don’t we?