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Sunday Reflections: Dasani, Poverty, and Education (by Robin)

This week, the New York Times brought us an unparalleled view into the life of the homeless youth of America with it’s story “Invisible Child” by Andrea Elliott. The entire five part series is a bit overwhelming in its devastatingly honest look at the life of one child who represents so many of our children today. While I highly recommend reading it in full, please take your time – it is a lot to digest.

What I really want to focus on, though, is this reaction to the story from the New York Post (“The New York Times’ ‘homeless’ hooey”.) Please go read it. The author seems to believe that the city has been too generous with Dasani’s family – that in providing  a ‘roof over their heads,’ subsistence level financial support, and basic medical care, the city has removed all incentive for Dasani’s parents to take responsibility for their 8 children. The author’s assertion that the sum of money spent on benefits for this family over the last 14 years, while seemingly large, has provided them anything approaching ‘comfortable lives’ is patently ludicrous. I would assert that, contrary to the editorialist’s beliefs, the city has not spent enough. The programs that serve the poor of our country are overwhelmingly underfunded, to the detriment of everyone. Fully funded, well administered services are effective in helping those they serve to reverse the course of their lives. They provide a safety net to keep the disadvantaged from falling even further, give them the resources and skills they need to become fully contributing members of society. What we have today are marginally funded services, administered by professionals stretched beyond their limits due to budget cuts.

I can only assume that this brief response was meant to stir people up and provide ‘click bait’ for the Post, but it does highlight a rather pernicious belief common to our country. That is, specifically, that we are not collectively responsible for the welfare of our nation’s children. Indeed, in an article by Bill Moyers, published on the Salonwebsite, we read that “with the exception of Romania, no developed country has a higher percent of kids in poverty than we do.” Why is this? Why can we not, as a country, agree that investing in our citizens in order that they might become fully contributing members of our society benefits us all? I am at a loss.


I do know that one place we can start is with our public schools. I strongly encourage you to watch this video and consider the points it makes.

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hf9UVg-TdH0]

Comments

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