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Training @ MindSay


4 out of my 6 current staff are going to be gone all day tomorrow at a training.  One of the ones remaining I NEVER see because she's only part-time mine, and the other is sub and is leaving in 2 weeks anyway so they're not going to pay to train her when she won't be here in the future.

Tomorrow, I will have no knowledgeable staff save Kathie (the one who is leaving in 2 weeks).  Most of my babies don't do well with subs.  One of my babies is currently PRETTY MUCH in-school suspended in my room (we've build fake walls to block off an area she has to stay in) for bringing a weapon to school yesterday (apparently, because it's related to her diagnosed disability, she can't be suspended even though it's district policy..  GRR) and is in the process of being admitted to a hospital setting.

And I'll be alone with them all, spread out around the building and in my room and the flare-ups goodness.  I need to talk to the sub dispatcher IMMEDIATELY.

Do I have them split their days the way my staff actually do?  Is it better to do full days w/ assigned kids and I'll run around like a nut covering lunch and recess duties (all 3 periods?)?  Maybe I'll do that except for the case of Kathie and JCA's sub; she'll need a break (of course, JCA can't have a male sub...)

And somewhere in there, I'll try to finish writing up things I have due.  And talk to AC-O's school who apparently called wanting to talk to me.  I hope ONLY good things.

And for a last fun little tidbit, the training is all day tomorrow and AGAIN next Wednesday.  Almost a 'lather-rinse-repeat' thing.  Hopefully, all will work out and I'll survive.

Things I Learned at Restraint Training Today...
1)  Claudia has 'wiry' arms.
2)  I have wiry arms, too, and this impressed/surprised Eddie (one of the trainers)
3)  How important a 'sweep' is
4)  That I mess up, but can recover from it
5)  That having awkward wrists that Parker likes to make fun of actually comes in handy for restraining so a kid can't scratch me
6)  To laugh at myself
7)  To relax when people tell me to (this won't last)
8)  That Parker doesn't watch sports on TV
9)  That I fold in half 'like a pancake'
10)  That my test anxiety is STILL THERE.
11)  That there are new sheriffs in town.

I am absolutely EXHAUSTED right now, but I passed the Physical Restraint test, and I did well on the written one, and I am officially restraint trained.  Still hope NEVER to have to use it, but I got it.  Gonna have some sore arms tomorrow, but so grateful for the experience and the practice.


Education and the Persistence of Poverty (Pt. 3)
Continued from yesterday's post...

One of the essential and most successful programs of the War on Poverty was Headstart. Operation Headstart is a preschool program that underprivileged children can attend to help prepare for school. With the rising number of unwed, single parent, and female-headed households, preschool programs have become even more important in the fight against poverty. In Headstart, children are helped to prepare for school. Three to Five year old children are help to think, reason, and speak clearly, they are provided with meals, social services health evaluations, and health care. This relieves a lot of the burden of raising a child from, say, a single unwed mother, ensuring the child with have at least one nutritious meal a day. (Eitzen) Numerous studies have shown the benefits of programs like Headstart in raising IQ scores as much as 9 points. Because of environmental factors, such as substandard grade schools, the results fade by grade 6. (Eitzen 199) Headstart should be expanded and made a universal program, or follow the suggestion of Michael Harrington and others, who said:

“We should have a GI bill in the war against poverty and pay people to go to school, pay their tuition, their books, and give them an additional living allowance if they have a family. The GI bill was one of the most successful social experiments this society ever had. Why does it require a shooing war for us to be so smart? Why can’t we in the war on poverty say that the most productive thing a person between the ages of 16 and 21 can do it go to school, and that this is an investment in the Great Society” (Eitzen 211)

A universal preschool solution would be a powerful equalizing force for children in poverty. Socioeconomic status is the most important factor affecting school performance. It is essential that, after preschool, that all children have access to high quality education.

Just as in the first War on Poverty, education and training programs should play a central role in reducing present poverty. Those without education and a marketable skill set have a hard time rising, and staying, above the poverty line. In addition, their employment is less stable than that of college graduates.

In his book, Starting Even, Robert Haveman makes an interesting proposal in the form of what he calls a “Universal Personal Capital Account.” This idea would revolutionize the way that post-high school education and training is obtained. The idea is that, with the Personal Capital Accounts, the alienation of disadvantaged youths from the “mainstream economic life” would be reduced, and possibly eliminated in a way “that encourages independence and accountability” by opening up employment opportunities by giving all people an equal base on which to start. These are good examples of the solutions necessary to reduce poverty.

While the current financial aid system is barely passable, the system subsidizes organizations rather than individuals. Organizations like Colleges, Universities, and Training Programs use the funds to provide training for little or no cost. Participants are recruited as best as possible by the organizations, and many of those who apply for the programs happen upon them by chance, and often the individual’s choices are made, regarding their options for training or higher education, with partial or no information, or biased and erroneous cost considerations. Grants and loans are hardly better, since one still needs to apply and qualify.

The Universal Capital Account is like a grant that is given, without the need for application or qualification, to all youths when they turn 18 years of age to use for the Human Capital investment of their choice. It would give individuals that want to get training or a college degree the funds to do so, with the freedom to make the choice themselves. The account can be used for medical services or other approved purchases, and it earns interest as well. So, if it is not drawn down prior to retirement age, the money can be used to supplement other income at that time. (Eitzen 169)

This could solve all of the unspoken problems with the way the financial aid system currently works. Individuals would already know that they had the funds to attend the training or higher education program of their choice. It is less complicated and more efficient and direct than the current system, and the cost can be covered by allocating the money from the existing programs that the Human Capital accounts would make obsolete. This is a great example of innovative solutions to poverty that will be needed if we are to succeed in the new War on Poverty.

The final necessity for the elimination of poverty that results from inadequate education is publicly supported training and retraining programs. These sorts of programs have already helped millions to become productive members of the labor force, and adjust to technological change and to the job losses caused by the changes (Eitzen 199). In addition, a fully funded job search assistance program. “Evaluations have shown that job search assistance leads to modest employment and income gains among female AFDC recipients, and that the social returns of some of these programs are greater than the costs. Yet, there is no evidence that those programs move families out of poverty” (Danziger 11).

After high quality education and training opportunities are available for all, equally, regardless of socioeconomic status, it is up to the governments and society to make sure that the economy finds a place for all the educated and skilled workers that will be ready and willing to work. Education is important as we have seen, and over the years, it has been the most successful contributor in the fight against poverty. It really can be the great equalizer if we are willing to make the long-term commitment necessary to see profit from the investment.


Education and the Persistence of Poverty (Pt. 2)

Continued from yesterday's post...

It is important to take a moment and explore why our society retreated from the War on Poverty.

In 1964, Johnson declared the War on Poverty, and the quest for the Great Society began. The mission, in President Johnson’s own words was to provide “a hand up, not a hand out”. Had the War on Poverty stuck close to these wise words, the Great Society that Johnson hoped for may have succeeded. Macroeconomic policies were created to attain full employment, with programs to provide better education like Headstart and Upward Bound; training with Jobcorps, and affirmative action was established and enforced. All of these programs were aimed at empowerment and equal opportunity. (Eitzen 22)

Because of those efforts, between the years of 1965 - 1973, the “adjusted poverty rate fell by one half; education, medical care, unemployment and income gaps between blacks and whites and rich and poor were narrowed; housing, health, and nutrition indicators rose.” Gradually, however, funding shifted away from equalizing efforts towards income transfer programs, such as welfare, social security, and health care subsidies. (Eitzen 22)

Meanwhile, the mounting expectations for the War on Poverty were higher than the results, which could not live up to the hype created for the programs by the Johnson Administration. As a result, many lost faith when the Great Society programs were slow in showing short-term results as promised. Naturally, using education and training to break the intergenerational poverty cycle is a slow, long-term process, which surely would have shown great returns in the end, assuming full funding. Combined with the growing frustration towards the president because of the Vietnam War, the dream of the Great Society died. (Danziger 407 – 408)

As a result of the perceived failure of the War on Poverty, Robert Haveman states unequivocally that “… our political leaders, have come convinced that social programs (and the higher taxes they imply) have ended up reducing work and savings-- and these reductions hurt the economy. As a result, we have not pursued or even serious considered more effective- or efficient - ways of reducing poverty and equality.” (Eitzen 23). This is where we are today, continuing to make the same mistakes as the past. It is clear today that every effort to help the poor is seen as a handout

As Robert Haveman points out, “Long-term and permanent progress against poverty and inequality is possible only through programs that make it possible for individuals to acquire sufficient skills and training to become economically independent and give them the incentives and hope to make the effort” (23)

Since education is one of the most important tools in the reduction of poverty, our society needs to come to terms with the nature of poverty. After decades of research, the tie between school and economic success is clearly established. Most good jobs today require more education than in the past, with a new skill, technology based focus. A college degree is becoming more necessary all the time, but the poor have little access to higher education. This is institutional discrimination. Academic stars get scholarships, but poor students tend to do poorly due to the low-quality education they typically get. This is often a result of geographical location, since schools are typically funded by the wealth of their district, that means the schools are under funded. It is also a result of the lack of enriched preschool programs, and low expectations from the school administrators.

In order to realize the potential of education to be the “Great Equalizer” as it was envisioned, the idea must be fully embraced, and education and training programs aimed at confronting today’s poverty must be enacted, from preschool through college. High quality programs for all, regardless of income level, are necessary to break the cycle of poverty and institutional discrimination.

In the third and final post, I'll be talking about past programs that had some success and some suggestions for the future, as well as wrapping it all up.


Education and the Persistence of Poverty (Pt. 1)
Horace Mann once said, “"Education, then, beyond all other devices of human origin ... Is the great equalizer of the conditions of men - the balance-wheel of the social machinery.” (Ravitch 150) In this, he was undoubtedly right. Great changes in our society have come about through the education of the masses and, just as Horace Mann believed, the best escape route from poverty is education. So why is poverty still high nearly five decades after the War on Poverty?

While education is logically the best way out of poverty, in reality, the United States has never whole-heartedly pursued this view in policy. Many under-funded and misguided attempts have been made, but none to the extent that would dramatically reduce poverty. In order for education to work as a “great equalizer“, reproducing the current class structure must be avoided. The poor need equal access to that which the upper class can provide for their own- access to high quality education, teachers, and preschool (Gans 115). The goal of this paper is to explore the role of education and training in the reduction and elimination of poverty.

The current fight against poverty in the United States has reached a stalemate. When President Johnson declared the War on Poverty in 1964, 19% of the US population, or 36.4 million, was poor. By 1973, poverty was at an all-time low of 11.1%, or 23.5 million. While the conservative backlash against the War on Poverty would have us believe that the war was a failure, in less than a decade, it lowered poverty by 8%, bringing 12.9 million people above the federal poverty threshold. (Danziger 1). Since the beginning of the War on Poverty, the poverty rate has hovered around 11 - 15%, according to historic poverty tables of the Census Bureau. (Historical Poverty Tables) In 2006, the poverty rate was 12.3%, meaning that 36.9 million people fall below the current federal poverty thresholds. This is more, in real numbers, than in 1964.

The reason that poverty persists is not due to any one factor. A number of factors, such as economic trends (proliferation of low-wage jobs and loss of high paying blue-collar jobs, rise in unemployment), changing family patterns (high proportion of single-parent and female-headed families) government policy (cuts in programs serving the poor, failure of government to uphold the value of minimum wage and maintain protection of unemployment insurance, etc) (Gilbert 263 - 4).“A less progressive tax structure and the general reluctance to fight poverty aggressively are also among the more apparent reasons for a high poverty rate.” (Gilbert 49).
One thing that is certain; that the causes of the inequality of poverty is systemic. They are a result of “the diversity individual talents and motivations (nature), individual upbringing (nurture), the condition of labor markets, and inequalities of opportunity.” (Haveman 151). Considering the income and wealth of the United States, the persistence of poverty is unacceptable. The United States has the greatest aggregate wealth and income in the world, as well as the highest per capita income measured by purchasing power parity exchange rates. (Mangun 49)

Since poverty is systemic, then the solutions must be as well. In order to start the New War on Poverty, pubic perceptions of poverty need to be changed. Public perception of the poor and poverty today is divided almost evenly. In a recent poll by NPR, the question was asked, “In your opinion, which is the bigger cause of poverty today-- that people are not doing enough to help themselves out of poverty, or that circumstances beyond their control cause them to be poor.” 48% of respondents said that people were not doing enough, while 45% said it was circumstances out of the control of poor people. This poll reflects post-Great Society, post-1979 views of Poverty pretty well, unfortunately.....

In the next post, I will explore why the Great Society wasn't as successful as Johnson predicted, and why, even though great successes came about though the War on Poverty, it is still often denounced as a failure.

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