GROUP 2B - 9,220 / 9,220 (100%) users invited back [last: ] Discuss
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.