Archives for category: Poverty

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?

Paul Waldman and Greg Sergeant of the Washington Post write about the untimely and unnecessary demise of the most effective anti-poverty program for children. One Democratic Senator, Joseph Manchin, killed it.

“My friends, some years ago, the federal government declared war on poverty, and poverty won,” Ronald Reagan declared in his State of the Union address in 1988. He lamented that “government created a poverty trap” that discouraged people from lifting themselves up.
Then as now, it was an idea driven by an ideology that says the government should do as little as possible to help people who are struggling. Then as now, it was refuted by facts.


As a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows, we did something extraordinary during the worst parts of the coronavirus pandemic: In the midst of a crisis that affected every part of our society and could have been economically calamitous, we drove poverty down. As economically painful as the crisis was, the aggressive public spending passed across the Trump and Biden presidencies dramatically mitigated the hardship Americans suffered.

Using just-released census figures, the group reports the results of the pandemic stimulus measures in 2021. In particular, the study looked at the expansion of the child tax credit, which was altered to give monthly payments to eligible families, including those with incomes too low to have income tax liability:

The expanded Child Tax Credit alone kept 5.3 million people above the annual poverty line and helped drive a stunning reduction in child poverty to a record low. Poverty overall also reached a record low and the uninsured rate dropped substantially, with Medicaid and Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace coverage reaching or nearing record highs.


The effect on minority groups was particularly dramatic: “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.”


It’s important to remember that we define “poverty” as a line one can be over or under. The fact that a family has a bit more income than where that line is placed doesn’t mean they don’t struggle to make ends meet.

But government assistance can mean the difference between a family having enough to eat, being able to pay the rent and utilities, or becoming homeless. And it’s clear that antipoverty spending has had a tremendous impact.

This week the New York Times reported comprehensive data showing that over the past three decades, child poverty has declined dramatically, down from 28 percent of American children in 1993 to 11 percent in 2019. Much of the credit goes to the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit, which give significant benefits to low-income Americans.

Now, here’s the bad news: Sadly, the expanded CTC expired at the end of 2021. Almost all Democrats in Congress wanted to extend the expansion, but Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) refused; he reportedly told colleagues he worried that parents would use the money to buy drugs. Without that extra income, millions of children fell back into poverty in 2022.

That only reinforces what a success story pandemic relief was — even if some of its effects were temporary.

These data are also important for another reason. They undercut conservative arguments that such government help must be accompanied with work requirements, lest it incentivize recipients to slip into a “hammock” of “dependency,” as one wretched formulation of the idea has it.

“There was a huge decline in child poverty and a very large increase in parents working year round without any work requirements,” Sherman told us. “We did not need to require the parents to work.”
In practice, work requirements often wind up being little more than a weaponization of bureaucracy against poor people, forcing them to spend enormous amounts of time and energy satisfying paperwork requirements, with the threat of their benefits being withdrawn if they make a mistake.
Ultimately, however, the most important lesson might be this: 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, many economists agree, puts children on a path to becoming healthier, happier, more fulfilled, more productive adults. We have perpetually failed to make that choice, but this time, we did make it, and it worked.
“We decided that we could actually try things,” Sherman told us.

Unfortunately, thanks largely to a certain senator from West Virginia, Democratic majorities in Congress were unable to continue the expanded CTC. But the drop in child poverty is a very big story, and if Democrats can somehow hold those majorities, its legacy should ensure that we don’t make that absurd and unnecessary mistake again.

I wonder how Senator Joe Manchin feels, knowing that he is responsible for the demise of a federal program lifted millions of children out of povètt.

Big business has been trying to get rid of unions since the first union was created. Corporations don’t want workers to have collective power. They prefer a workplace where they make all the decisions and don’t have to listen to workers’ voices. The share of unionized workers in the private sector is near an all-time low, but that may change. Recently there have been inklings of a rebirth of unionism. We see it in the growing number of Starbucks and Amazon workers who have voted to unionize. But their numbers remain small. Happily, public opinion is trending in favor of unions.

Someone recently asked me why there was so much hostility to teachers’ unions, and I answered, “Because they are the largest unions.” Teachers’ unions are blamed for whatever critics don’t like in schools, even though they fight for adequate school funding and decent working conditions. Those who have wanted to crush all unions focus their wrath on the NEA and the AFT, while overlooking the police union and the firefighters unions.

My view: if you want to reduce poverty and build a robust middle-class, support unions.

The Economic Policy Institute reports:

It’s been nearly 60 years since approval for unions in the U.S. has been this high.

More than 70% of Americans now approve of labor unions. Those are the findings of a Gallup poll released this morning, and they shouldn’t be surprising.

Why? U.S. workers see unions as critical to fixing our nation’s broken workplace—where most workers have little power or agency at work.

The pandemic revealed much about work in this country. We saw countless examples of workers performing essential jobs—such as health care and food service. They were forced to work without appropriate health and safety gear and certainly without pay commensurate with the critical nature of the work they were doing.

Those conditions, however, pre-dated the pandemic. The pandemic merely exposed these decades old anti-worker dynamics. Clearly, as the new poll and recent data on strikes and union organizing shows, workers today are rejecting these dynamics and awakening to the benefits of unions.

Nonunion workers are forced to take their jobs—accept their employer’s terms as is—or leave them. Unions enable workers to have a voice in those terms and set them through collective bargaining.

We know the powerful impact unions have on workers’ lives, and broader effects on communities and on our democracy.

Here’s a run-down based on the Economic Policy Institute’s extensive research on unions:

Pay and benefits 

  • Unionized workers (workers covered by a union contract) earn on average 10.2% more in wages than nonunionized peers (workers in the same industry and occupation with similar education and experience).
  • Unions don’t just help union workers—they help all of us. When union density is high, nonunion workers benefit, because unions effectively set broader standards—including higher wages.
  • Union workers are more likely to be covered by employer-provided health insurance. More than 9 in 10 workers covered by a union contract (95%) have access to employer-sponsored health benefits, compared with just 69% of nonunion workers.
  • Union workers have greater access to paid vacation days. 90% of workers covered by a union contract received paid holidays off compared to 78% of nonunion workers.
  • Union workers also have greater access to paid sick days. 9 in 10 workers covered by a union contract (92%) have access to paid sick days, compared with 77% of nonunion workers.

The 17 U.S. states with the highest union densities:

  • Have state minimum wages that are on average 19% higher than the national average and 40% higher than those in low-union-density states.
  • Have median annual incomes $6,000 higher than the national average.
  • Have higher-than-average unemployment insurance recipiency rates (that is, a higher share of those who are unemployed actually receive unemployment insurance).

Equity and Equality

  • Black and Hispanic workers get a larger boost from unionization. Black workers represented by a union are paid 13.1% more than their nonunionized peers. Hispanic workers represented by unions are paid 18.8% more than their nonunionized peers.
  • Unions help raise women’s pay. Hourly wages for women represented by a union are 4.7% higher on average than for nonunionized women with comparable characteristics.
  • Research shows that deunionization accounts for a sizable share of the growth in inequality between typical (median) workers and workers at the high end of the wage distribution in recent decades—on the order of 13–20% for women and 33–37% for men.

Democracy 

  • Significantly fewer restrictive voting laws have been passed in the 17 highest-union-density states than in the middle 17 states (including D.C.) and the 17 lowest-union-density states.
  • Over 70% of low-union-density states passed at least one voter suppression law between 2011 and 2019.

The growing approval of unions is playing out on the ground with more workers seeking to exercise their collective bargaining rights.

Data from the National Labor Relations Board recently analyzed by Bloomberg Law show the exponential increase in election petitions being filed. While the Gallup poll states that most nonunion workers do not respond that they want to join a union, clearly workers are petitioning for union election at elevated rates.

And workers have increasingly felt empowered to fight for what they want.

We were already seeing signs of workers being willing to strike to demand better wages and working conditions. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed an upsurge in major strike activity in 2018 and 2019, marking a 35-year high.

We are experiencing a labor enlightenment of sorts in this country, one in which workers are fed up with an economy and workplace that does not work for them. With approval for unions at the highest since 1965, there is a growing realization that unions can potentially make both work better for all.

The New York Times Magazine recently published a startling article about Alabama’s tax system is designed to impoverish the poor and enrich the rich. Written by Robin Kaiser-Schatzlein, the article documents why Alabama remains a poor state with a high rate of poverty and underfunded public services. If you want to read a road map to how to institutionalize extreme poverty, racism, and underdevelopment, read “Alabama Takes from the Poor and Gives to the Rich.”

The author explains that the state constitution was written in 1904 by a convention controlled by rich landowners. It capped property taxes at a low rate, which meant that any public services had to be paid for by other taxes, fines, and fees. Fines and fees are assessed for almost every interaction with government.

He writes:

In states like Alabama, almost every interaction a person has with the criminal justice system comes with a financial cost. If you’re assigned to a pretrial program to reduce your sentence, each class attended incurs a fee. If you’re on probation, you’ll pay a fee to take your mandatory urine test. If you appear in drug court, you will face more fees, sometimes dozens of times a year. Often, you don’t even have to break the law; you’ll pay fees to pull a public record or apply for a permit. For poor people, this system is a trap, sucking them into a cycle of sometimes unpayable debt that constrains their lives and almost guarantees financial hardship.

While almost every state in the country, both red and blue, levies fines and fees that fall disproportionately on the bottom rung of the income ladder, the situation in Alabama is far more dramatic, thanks to the peculiarities of its Constitution. Over a century ago, wealthy landowners and businessmen rewrote the Constitution to cap taxes permanently. As a result, today, Alabama has one of the cruelest tax systems in the country.

Taxes on most property, for example, are exceptionally low. In 2019, property taxes accounted for just 7 percent of state and local revenue, the lowest among the states. (Even Mississippi, which also has low property taxes, got roughly 12 percent from property taxes. New Jersey, by contrast, got 29 percent.) Strapped for cash, all levels of government look for money anywhere they can get it. And often, that means creating revenue from fines and fees. A 2016 studyshowed that the median assessment for a felony in Alabama doubled between 1995 and 2005, to $2,000.

How did this unjust system take root?

In 1874, less than a decade into Reconstruction, the Democratic Party, representing the landowning, formerly slave-owning class, took over the state government in a rigged election and quickly passed a new Constitution that mandated taxes on property would remain permanently low.

In the next couple of decades, as cotton prices crashed, poor sharecroppers, both white and Black, banded together in a populist movement to unseat the elites who controlled the state. In response, in another set of contested elections, the elites called another constitutional convention to further consolidate their power over the state. “What is it that we want to do?” the convention president, John B. Knox, asked. “Establish white supremacy in this state.” But this time, he said, they wanted to “establish it by law — not by force or fraud.”

People like Knox weren’t just racist; they were virulently classist, too, and hoped to exclude all poor people from the political process. The result of the 1901 Constitution was the mass disenfranchisement and subjugation of poor people — white and Black. The Constitution established the basis for a literacy test, a poll tax and stringent residency requirements. By 1943, according to the Alabama Policy Institute, an estimated 520,000 Black people and 600,000 white people had been disqualified from voting by different aspects of the 1901 Constitution. “In most counties more whites were disenfranchised than registered,” the historian Wayne Flynt writes in his authoritative book “Alabama in the Twentieth Century,” “limiting the vote to a select elite.”

This system of minority rule starved public administration in the name of small government. The result was a “government of, by and for special interests,” writes Mr. Flynt. “The citizens of Alabama did not control their government. Trial lawyers, the Business Council of Alabama, ALFA, A.E.A. and their cohorts did.” And this government went about protecting the property owned by some of the wealthiest families and businesses in the state from any meaningful taxation. In 1920, property taxes accounted for 63 percent of state revenue, but by 1978, it was down to a measly 3.6 percent. In 1992, it was below 2 percent, he writes.

Alabama is an “internal colony,” controlled by out-of-state corporations and an elite, with no interest in change, progress, equality, or justice.

Sounds un-American to me.

Count on Jan Resseger to follow the news that matters most for the well-being of America’s children. West Virginia Senator killed President Biden’s ambitious Build Back Better plan, an effort to reverse climate change, invest in education, reduce child poverty, and much more. But the child tax credit, which directly helps children, is not dead yet, she writes.

It would appear that Senator Joe Manchin’s sabotage of the expanded Child Tax Credit as part of Build Back Better has killed the restoration of last year’s extraordinary but temporary improvement of this federal program as part of the American Rescue Plan COVID relief bill. But America’s child poverty advocacy coalition has not yet given up and neither have the experts at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Democratic leaders in Congress—Senators Sherrod Brown, Michael Bennet, Cory Booker, Ron Wyden and Raphael Warnock—and Representatives led by Rosa de Lauro are still in conversation with Republican Senators Mitt Romney, Richard Burr and Steve Daines, who have offered two versions of their own Republican Child Tax Credit proposal.

It is urgently important for America’s public school educators and child advocates to keep on pushing for expanding the Child Tax Credit and making it fully refundable. The educational damage of child poverty cannot be solved through school reform. While teachers can support children whose lives are ravaged by our society’s alarming economic inequality, public schools alone cannot undo the stresses and privations that poverty imposes on America’s poorest children.

Much of the ongoing conversation this month has been about the Family Security Act, proposed by Senator Romney and other Republicans, which would replace the Build Back Better Better version of the Child Tax Credit that was rejected by Senator Joe Manchin. Last week a coalition of national child advocacy organizations, the First Focus Campaign for Children, wrote a letter to Senators Mitt Romney, Steve Daines and Richard Burr to explain why their recent version of the Family Security Act isn’t good enough: this most recent version will leave America’s very poorest children in worse straits than a version Romney proposed in 2021.

Here is the First Focus Campaign for Children: “The good news is that we know what works to reduce child poverty.” A 2019 landmark National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) “study finds that a child allowance, operating as an extension of the Child Tax Credit, is the most powerful tool we have to combat child poverty and narrow the racial poverty gap. Extensive research shows when households with children receive cash transfers, they spend it on resources that support their children’s healthy development—improving their physical and behavioral health and educational outcomes and leading them to earn more as adults… The first version (2021) of the original Family Security Act proposed by Senator Romney would have cut child poverty by an estimated 32.6%… Households with the least resources would have been eligible to receive the full (newly increased) Child Tax Credit… Unfortunately, as the Family Security Act morphed into version 2.0, changes focused on adults were made to the Child Tax Credit and significantly reduced the positive impact it would have on millions of children. The ‘best interests of children’ became an afterthought as the focus shifted to some sort of ‘deservedness’ standards for adults that has the effect of punishing children. As a result, the Niskanen Center’s updated analysis shows that the Family Security Act 2.0 would only reduce child poverty by just 12.6%.”

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities details the primary reason why the latest version of the Family Security Act would punish children in families with the lowest income: “To qualify for the maximum credit for each child in the family, families would need to have earned at least $10,000 in the prior year… Families with earnings below $10,000 would receive a proportional credit. For example, a family earning $5,000 would receive 50 percent of the maximum credit for each child.” Families with no income would no longer qualify, but couples earning up to $400,000 per year would qualify as would single parents making up to $200,000 annually.

But, as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities further explains: “The $10,000 earnings requirement to receive the full credit would apply to all families, including parents with babies and young children, retired grandparents caring for their grandchildren, and parents with disabilities that may limit their ability to work. It would also newly require caregivers not only to live with the child but also to have legal custody of the child, which is stricter than current law and may disqualify many grandparents or other relatives who care for children from claiming the credit. And it would impose a new restriction for families that include immigrants: under current law, children must have a Social Security number (SSN) to qualify for the Child Tax Credit, but the proposal would impose an additional requirement that a parent also have an SSN, denying the credit to children who are U.S. citizens if their parents lack an SSN.”

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explains another serious problem when several of the provisions of the newest version of the Family Security Act, are computed together: “The Romney proposal… (would require) families with low and moderate incomes to pay for more than half the cost of expanding the credit… The Romney plan would dramatically cut the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) a credit that provides an income boost for workers with low and moderate incomes, and eliminate the ‘head of household’ tax filing status, which millions of single parents who work at low-paying jobs use when they file their income tax returns… For example, consider a single mother who has a toddler and a daughter in second grade and works as a home health aide, making $25,000 a year. Her family’s Child Tax Credit would grow by $3,640 under the Romney plan, but they would lose $4,105 from the EITC cuts and the elimination of the head of household filing status, for a net income loss of $465. If both children were age 6 or older, the net income loss would be even larger: $1,665.”

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities summarizes what would be the primary effects of the latest Family Security Act provisions: “Denying the full credit to children based on their parents’ earnings would do virtually nothing to boost parental employment and would withhold help from the children who most need it….

Open the link and read the rest of her important analysis.

Veteran educator Arnold Hillman and his wife Carol retired to South Carolina. But instead of golfing, they devoted themselves to a high-poverty high school and worked directly with the students to encourage them to aspire them to go to college.

Arnold writes here about what he has learned about South Carolina:

As with the beginning of any sports season, odds makers, fans, team owners, managers and coaches and players look forward to the onset of the games. In single person sports like golf, tennis, combat sports such as real wrestling, boxing, UFC, and the martial arts, expectations are even greater.

How do successful teams, individuals and those who are in charge, manage to rise above others? Why are certain teams and individuals levels of expectations so very high? Why is it that former doormats become champions in a few short years?

There are many examples of those kind or turnarounds. How about Cassius Clay (Muhammed Ali) destroying the world champion Sonny Liston? How did the 1980 USA hockey team come from obscurity to defeat the greatest teams in the world?. For pitysake, how did the New York Mets go from nothingness to World Series Champs in 1969?

There are so many examples of these kind of things that apply to what is happening in education here in South Carolina. Let’s go back to sports for a moment. Certainly, individuals have their own expectations of how they will succeed. Whether nature or nurture, is always a question. If a group of players on a football team have their own beliefs, and they are not shared by the coach, there will be little success.

Try and explain the success of the New England Patriots and then the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In the case of New England, players wanted to be traded there because of the level of expectations the teams always had of themselves. Tom Brady and Bill Belicheck knew how to win and how to inspire others. Mediocre players who migrated to the Pats soon became integral parts of the success of the team.

Now that Tom Brady is with the Bucs and Bruce Arians, the Coach, there is also an expectation of victories. So, they win the Super Bowl in their first year together. On the other end is the Jacksonville Jaguars, with a super quarterback and a coach who had no level of expectations.

What does this have to do with education in South Carolina? Do we ever wonder why our state is always at the bottom of any ranking list in education? The history is long and continual. Here is a site that will take you a while to read. It is, however, a clear picture of why education has not flourished in our state.

Now that you understand our history, you can see why the level of expectation for our children is so low. Pat Conroy and his “Corridor of Shame,” described the situation in many of our poor and rural school districts. He taught in one of those districts. He understood.

For some reason, it appears that those in charge of education at the state level continue to treat parts of our state in a way that encourages low expectations. Here are some historical reasons why South Carolina’s education system has floundered though the years:

 

“1. A strong tradition brought from England that public support for education should be limited to the poor

2. Education seen as more of the responsibility of the Church than the State

3. Attitudes of those outside the wealthy class that worked against a unified system, including low regard for learning, reluctance to accept charity through free tuition, and the need to keep children in the family labor force

4. The very high cost in the 1700s and 1800s to provide quality schools outside the citiesand coastal areas, population was sparse and transportation poor

5. Strong resistance to local taxation for schools until the late 1800s

6. Interruption of a burgeoning “common school movement” in South Carolina by the CivilWar, and the subsequent disruption of a tax base

7. Increased white resistance to the public school idea following the Reconstruction government’s attempts to open schools to all races

8. An attitude on the part of some 20th century leaders that too much education would damage the state’s cheap labor force

9. The slow growth of state supervision of the schools due to strong sentiments toward local control

10. The financial burden of operating a racially segregated system, and the social and educational impact of combining two unequal systems”

 

(The History of South Carolina Schools

Edited by Virginia B. Bartels

Study commissioned by the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement)

(CERRA–SC)

 

These historical happenings still are partially responsible for our current education system. Low test scores in the poor and rural sections of the state confound state leadership. Therefore, they have come to expect these outcomes year after year.

Yet, in travels across the state, SCORS (South Carolina Organization of Rural Schools) has seen how those school districts and their children make huge efforts to improve education. We have worked with these children in one local high school and seen the lack of resources, lack of quality of instruction, and actual lack of teachers in math and sciences.

In many of the rural and poor school districts, there has been “white flight” to private schools, charter schools, religious schools and home schoolings. Once again the wealthier the school district, the higher they are in the rankings of school districts in the state.

So, what is left- a lack of expectations for those left in the public schools. Why, say the talking heads and misunderstanders, aren’t these schools doing better. The system is really stacked against those poor and rural folks. However, are the children really unable to learn or compete, on any level, with the lighthouse districts? You bet they can. I have seen it.

Let me give you some anecdotal evidence. Dr. Vernon (not her real name) was the superintendent of a rural school district in South Carolina. She was, in fact, a product of the public schools in SC. She came from humble beginings and rose to her position as superintendent with some help from people and a great desire to help youngsters like herself.

After 5 years as superintendent, her board changed dramatically. One of her board members said that the students test scores on certain state tests were not true and that she had elevated those test scores. The Department of Education was called in and found none of those charges to be true. Board members could not believe that the children could be this good. By the way the superintendent and board parted ways with much acrimony.

Certainly there was much politics in her leaving. She also sued the board for defamation of character and won. Was all this because the level of expectations for the poor, minority and rural children were unable to improve on their test scores?

Another anecdote centers about a student (and an excellent basketball player) was placed in a prep school outside of Philadelphia. He spent a year there as a post graduate. After the first four weeks of school, he retook the SATs and got 120 more points than he had at his old school. He got an athletic scholarship from a prestigious university.

So what does all that mean? We can tell you from my 61 years in education that there is a blanket on our poor and rural children that leads to a lack of expectations and a lack of will to help these children.

Neil Meyer, a native of Uvalde who now lives in Bethesda, Maryland, says he was not surprised by the massacre there. He explained why in the Washington Post.

I was born in Uvalde, Tex., lived there recently and love its complex history and people. Like most, I’ve been struggling under the weight of grief to understand the violence that left 19 children, two teachers and a young killer dead last week. But I’m not surprised.


First, you would be challenged to find a more heavily armed place in the United States than Uvalde. It’s a town where the love of guns overwhelms any notion of common-sense regulations, and the minority White ruling class places its right-wing Republican ideology above the safety of its most vulnerable citizens — its impoverished and its children, most of whom are Hispanic.

Second, at news of the shooting, I was struck to hear the words “Robb Elementary” because I knew of its centrality to the struggle in Uvalde over the past half-century to desegregate its schools. Robb sits in the city’s southwest quadrant. So I knew the victims of the shooting would largely be Hispanic. They have been locked into that school for decades.
In Uvalde, simply put, everything north of Highway 90 is primarily White Republican, and everything south is mostly Hispanic Democrat. The city has about 15,000 residents; more than 80 percent identify as Hispanic or Latino.


Most of Uvalde’s political leadership and the heads of the largest employers are White. At the center of town on the courthouse grounds, you’ll find a monument to Jefferson Davis, the Confederate president — installed when the Ku Klux Klan dominated Uvalde politics. (Some of us tried to get the monument removed after the murder of George Floyd, but that’s a story for another day.)

Caitlin Huey-Burns writes for CBS News that the states most likely to ban abortion are the states LEAST likely to provide resources for children. Their politicians love the unborn. The born and living, not so much.

The expectation that Supreme Court is about to scrap decades of federal protections of abortion rights is highlighting another issue: the lack of resources and support available for women to have and raise children.

More women living in states without abortion access, should Roe v. Wade be overturned, will likely carry to term. Yet, not one of the two dozen states with laws on the books restricting abortion access offers paid family leave.

Eight of them have opted out of expanding Medicaid coverage under the health care law, which covers pregnancy through postpartum for low-income Americans.

And Mississippi, whose abortion restriction law is at the heart of an impending Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, ranks as the state with the highest rate of young child poverty and low birth weight and among the highest when it comes to infant mortality rates.

It is also ironic that the states with the most horrible history of racism are likely to see an increase in their black population, since impoverished black women are not likely to have the money to travel to a state where abortion is protected by law. Over many years, the black population in Mississippi may grow large enough to demand a change in the political order.

Jan Resseger reviewed the federal education budget for next year and found it disappointing. Although schools received large grants to get them through the COVID crisis, the other big budget promises evaporated. With private school choice programs draining money away from the public schools that educate the vast majority of our children, this is bad news indeed. The scandal-scarred federal Charter Schools Program was once again funded at $440 million, after being heavily lobbied by the charter school lobby. This means that the federal Department of Education is the biggest funder in the nation of charter schools, which also are supported by a plethora of billionaires like Gates, Waltons, DeVos, Koch, Bloomberg, and more. The Network for Public Education published two in-depth studies of the federal Charter Schools Program (see here and here), which showed that nearly 40% of the schools funded by the program either closed soon after opening or never opened at all, wasting more than $1 billion. But charter school friends like Senator Booker of New Jersey and Senator Bennett of Colorado fought to keep the money flowing. The Senate also removed a provision banning the funding of for-profit charter corporations. So, despite President Biden’s promise to get rid of for-profit charters, they will continue to feed at the public trough.

Last spring, in his first proposed federal budget for the Department of Education, President Biden tried to begin fulfilling campaign promises that defined his commitment to alleviating educational inequity.  He proposed an astounding $443 million investment in full-service, wraparound Community Schools, far above the previous year’s investment of $30 million; $36.5 billion for Title I, the Education Department’s largest program for schools serving concentrations of children in poverty; $15.5 billion for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; $1 billion to help schools hire counselors, nurses, and mental health professionals; and a new $100 million grant program to support diversity in public schools.

But last Thursday night, in order to prevent a federal government shutdown, Biden signeda federal budget whose whose investments in primary and secondary public education are far below what he had hoped for.

Chalkbeat’s Matt Barnum reports: “Biden hoped to reshape school funding. A new budget deal shows that’s not likely anytime soon…  While campaigning for president, Joe Biden vowed to triple funding for Title I.  Last year, Biden aimed to get much of the way there by proposing to more than double the program, which sends extra money to high-poverty schools. Now, it looks like schools will have to settle for far less… A bipartisan budget package… increases Title I by just… $1 billion, and includes a smaller-than-requested boost for funding to support students with disabilities…. In total, the K-12 portion of Department of Education spending would increase by about 5%.”

On the positive side, Biden and Congress have been able to increase the Department of Education’s largest and key programs, while under President Trump, Congress only increased funding slightly for K-12 education while fighting to prevent cuts proposed by Trump and his education secretary, Betsy DeVos.

Writing for FutureEd, Phyllis W. Jordan itemizes the education budget allocations Congress passed last week:

  • Title I — $17.5 billion
  • IDEA Grants — $13.3 billion
  • Educator Professional Development and Support — $2.2 billion
  • School Safety and Student Health — $1.2 billion
  • Mental Health Professionals in Schools — $111 million
  • School-Based Mental Health Services Grants — $56 million
  • Demonstration Grants — $55 million
  • Social-Emotional Learning — $82 million
  • Full Service Community Schools — $75 million

One of the biggest disappointments for educators and many families is Congressional failure to fulfill the President’s attempt significantly to expand the federal investment in Full-Service Community Schools.  These are the schools with wraparound medical and social services located right at school for students and families. Community Schools also often provide enriched after school and summer programs.  President Biden had proposed to expand the federal investment in these programs from the Trump era amount of $30 million to $430 million annually.  In the end, Congress budgeted $75 million for this program, an increase but not what advocates had hoped would expand this proven strategy for assisting struggling families and children in an era when over 10 percent of New York City’s public school students are homeless.

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Homi Kharas of the Brookings Institution writes about ways that the world’s billionaires could solve persistent global problems by paying an annual tax of 1% of their wealth.

He writes:

Until recently, even the wealthiest individuals did not have enough money to make a material dent in global problems, let alone “solve” them. Compared to the size of national economies, or the budgets of the governments of national economies, their wealth appeared small.

This is no longer the case. There are 2,755 billionaires in the world today, with an estimated wealth of $13.2 trillion. Even just 1 percent of this wealth (equivalent to a tax rate of 15-20 percent on the accrued income that billionaires have received with returns of 5-7 percent per year) would yield a flow of $130 billion per year. This can be compared with annual official aid (net ODA) of roughly $160 billion from all countries and multilateral institutions combined. Looking for contributions from billionaires has moved from a nice-to-have niche improvement to becoming part of the conversation on financing to solve large-scale global issues.

What could be done with $130 billion each year?

Figure 1 below provides some estimates of the cost of solving selected global problems. For example, updating previous work, I estimate that $95 billion would be enough to eradicate extreme poverty for all the 708 million people in the world living below the international threshold of $1.90 per person per day. Yes, a 1 percent contribution from the world’s billionaires would provide more than enough resources to end extreme poverty today.

Other major global issues have less precise costing estimates but paint a similar picture. The issue of “solving” world hunger has a range of estimates, partly because solving hunger is not simply about having enough food, but about having consistent access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food, often in conflict-prone, or climate change-affected areas. Preferably, the food should also be grown in a sustainable way and the food system changes required depend on simultaneous system changes in health, energy, and transport. The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) nevertheless estimates that annual investments of $39 billion to $50 billion would be required to achieve a world without hunger by 2030. This includes both the 800 million people suffering from acute food insecurity, as well as the 1.5 billion additional people suffering from moderate food insecurity.

If you were a billionaire, wouldn’t you be willing to support a 1% tax on your wealth that would save the lives of millions of people living in desperate conditions?