The most sobering sentence I’ve read this week

From the NYT:

“We’ve got to figure out how to break the cycle of poverty, and the way we’re doing it now isn’t working,” said Hank M. Bounds, the Mississippi commissioner of higher education and, until recently, the state superintendent of schools. “An affluent 5-year-old has about the same vocabulary as an adult living in poverty.”

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3 Responses to The most sobering sentence I’ve read this week

  1. Don says:

    If we’re talking about inequalities that have set in before the age of five, then the major influence is the home environment not the schooling system.

    But US policy makers seem reluctant to do anything that might improve the living conditions of non-working adults. They want to help children but they refuse to do anything that might be interpreted as rewarding non-working or underemployed parents. Never mind that parents and children share the same environment.

    Reading between the lines of much of the material produced by the policy community, you get the impression that we should just write off today’s disadvantaged adults and direct resources to saving their children instead.

    If that’s what people are advocating then they take responsibility for it. They should explain why it’s ethical and how such as strategy could actually work.

  2. Fred Scholten says:

    US policy is certainly not supremely ethical, but evidently more effective, socially and economically, than a policy which rewards non-working (often unemployable) parents at the expense of supporting their children to break out of the poverty cycle. Given limited resources, US policy is possibly the best choice.

  3. Don says:

    Fred – It seems to me that supporting “children to break out of the poverty cycle” necessarily involves helping parents.

    Or are you suggesting that the government should take over responsibility for caring for children?

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