It explores a study that finds our brains, not just our emotions, react to the homeless with "disgust." This happens in part because we see them as very different from ourselves. Then, with the help of our brains we build up our tolerance for seeing suffering among these people. We rarely feel empathy for them.
I know you don't want to read this any more than I want to write it.
The point of State of Opportunity is to talk about how we can improve life for our most vulnerable children. We talk about education, we talk about health, we talk about public policy. We have not yet talked much about violence. I wish we didn't have to.
What happened in Newtown is incomprehensible. We are left only with grief.
And yet we know that what happened in Newtown is not rare. Mass shootings, we hear about all the time. Children victimized by violence, we try not to think about.
But the sad reality is children are murdered every day in America. Consider these statistics, compiled from reports by the CDC and the Congressional Research Service:
By now you might have heard about Newark Mayor Cory Booker's food stamp challenge. It all started on Twitter, where Booker engaged in a debate over the government's role in preventing hunger. The debate ended in Booker agreeing to live off of food stamps for one week, spending roughly $33 on food. This article praises Booker for his advocacy but cautions Americans and government officials not to lose sight of a more important goal: getting Americans out of poverty.
Back when I was an elementary school teacher in Compton, California, I always kept a supply of snacks in my classroom: A box of Cheerios, apples and oranges, Pop Tarts, a canister of raisins, juice boxes, and granola bars.
Governor Rick Snyder put Michigan’s educators on notice last year when he described the state’s education system as broken and outdated. He said it’s time for a new type of public education system, one that allows K-12 students more school choice.
But does it mean choice for all students? To find out, we called up Richard McLellan. A little background on McLellan: he's a lawyer; he runs the nonprofit Oxford Foundation; he was the founder of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a conservative think tank.
McLellan was tasked by Governor Snyder to come up with a new way to educate Michigan kids, one that included "an anytime, anyplace, any pace, anyway model of public education where students would have more access to educational resources."
McLellan spent six months talking to education stakeholders before he wrote the 300 page draft proposal for the "Michigan Education Finance Act," which would replace the School Aid Act of 1979. Some supporters say the proposal is packed with school choice, critics say the proposal will result in a complete dismantling of public education. For the sake of this story, we'll call it the Oxford Proposal.
Yes, I too am incredibly sick of hearing about the fiscal cliff. The fact that negotiations don't seem to be going anywhere and that we're all just waiting for Congress to do something does make it hard to care.
So if it's going down what should you know? One resource is the Urban Institutes' Fiscal Cliff Toolkit. It's a guide that in plain language explains some of the cuts to entitlement programs being talked about. The Urban Institute comes from left-of-center, so for those of you looking for another perspective the Heritage Foundation has put together something similar.
Nicholas Kristof wrote in the New York Times on Friday about a trip to Kentucky, where he heard stories of parents removing their children from literacy programs so they could keep getting disability payments from the government:
"There’s a danger in drawing too firm conclusions about an issue — fighting poverty — that is as complex as human beings themselves. I’m no expert on domestic poverty. But for me, a tentative lesson from the field is that while we need safety nets, the focus should be instead on creating opportunity — and, still more difficult, on creating an environment that leads people to seize opportunities."
THIS is what poverty sometimes looks like in America: parents here in Appalachian hill country pulling their children out of literacy classes. Moms and dads fear that if kids learn to read, they are less likely to qualify for a monthly check for having an intellectual disability.
Lansing is abuzz with controversial legislation, including a number of bills that would overhaul Michigan's public education system. Our colleague Jake Neher reports on one measure that would expand the state's school reform district. The Education Achievement Authority currently runs a handful of low-performing Detroit schools. The new bills would allow the EAA to take over all failing public schools in Michigan.
About 120 African American children from Ypsilanti were enrolled in the project, all of whom lived in poverty. Half the children were enrolled in half-day preschool at Perry, the other half were not.
The two groups have been studied for more than 40 years and the children who attended Perry Preschool have pretty much outperformed the control group in every measurable category – from test scores and high school graduation rates all the way through to adulthood.
So what, exactly, does it take to produce those kinds of results?