We think of scholarships as a way to help more students go to college. But there’s a new scholarship program in Michigan that has nothing to do with college. It offers scholarships to babies.
If you have a baby and you want to have a job, or you need to have a job, you have to find childcare. And childcare costs money—thousands of dollars a year.
If your income is below the federal government’s poverty line—about $24,000 a year for a family of four—the federal government will help you pay for childcare. But if you’re at, say, $28,000 a year, you’re ineligible.
Update: 2:06 p.m.: My colleague Dustin Dwyer was surfing the web today and came across this incredibly moving song about a young father and his son who died too soon.
Given what this web post was about today, I had to share. With lyrics like "his whole hand wrapped around my finger, he was premature / they said he need me, but I felt I really need him more," the song grabs your heart and doesn't let go.
We're starting to look into why certain kids are getting suspended from school more often than others, namely African-Americans, Latinos, students with disabilities, and low-income white students.
It’s not because these kids are worse than others or have taken misbehavior to new levels.
Instead, disturbingly, it’s because these kids are who they are---African-American, Latino, in special education, or low income. Closing the gap in achievement won’t happen if kids from different backgrounds are disciplined differently based on race, income, or other factors.
But even more disturbing, is the rise in preschool suspensions. Pre-K suspensions from state-funded program are three times higher than for K-12.
Those kids then rely upon the state's Department of Human Services (DHS) to keep them safe and put them in an environment where they have a chance to thrive. Most of those kids end up in foster care.
Six years ago the state was sued by the advocacy group Children's Rights over treatment of kids in its care.
The state was back in court today to see where things stand. Everyone agrees things have gotten better since the lawsuit started six years ago, but the court appointed monitor said too many kids are still unsafe.
As part of our State of Opportunity project, we’re following parents as they struggle to get off public assistance and make a better future for their children. We'll be bringing you occasional updates on families as we follow them over the course of the project. This is one of those updates.
I first interviewed Keisha Johnson on a steamy summer day last June. Johnson, 25, grew up poor and is still poor to this day. But she has three reasons she wants to climb out of poverty. Their names are Kaleb, Jurnee, and Alan, Jr.
Last time she was on the radio, Johnson talked about where she wants to be in three years. She wants to have her own home, she wants her children enrolled in good schools, and she wants to have a steady job as a secretary.
But first, she knew she would need some help to get there.
"A lot of women in my neighborhood, they think being on Section 8 and being with Human Services, they think ‘Ok we can do this forever!’ No it’s supposed to be just a start, just a push to help you out for right now, and then you’re supposed to grow and progress on your own that’s the whole point of the program," explains Johnson. "So that’s what it is for me right now."
That was June. I checked in to see how’s she doing now, and well, things aren't so great.
I caught up with Johnson on a Thursday morning when she was getting her children ready for school. As she brushed her daughter's short hair into a ponytail, Johnson starts to tell me how she's essentially living on zero dollars. "They sent me a letter in December saying you're cut off your cash assistance, which was $592 a month," says Johnson.
Thomas B. Edsall writes in the New York Times about the debate over how to measure poverty: "The lack of definition in our definition of poverty is part of the problem; it helps to answer the question of how the richest country in the history of the world could have so many people living in a state of deprivation."
Turns out the Earned Income Tax Credit is one thing all administrations beginning with Reagan’s have agreed is a good idea. And it really works. Listen to those who literally sing its praises on npr.org.
Last year, a federal program called the Earned Income Tax Credit took about $60 billion from wealthier Americans and gave it to the working poor. And here's the surprising thing: This redistribution of wealth has been embraced by every president from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama.
It's unclear just how many kids are opting out of private schools for a cheaper option nationally, but it looks like the number has fallen from about half a million to 900,000 since 2002 (it is the census, so as good as the numbers and analysis will be, it's always a few years behind-the most recent numbers are for 2010). In Michigan private school enrollment went down by 20,000 between 2008 and 2010.
The report says a couple of things have led to the drop. Catholic schools have taken quite a hit because of sex abuse and subsequent cover-ups. And, because Catholic populations have been suburbanizing, where there are less Catholic schools or maybe they are less needed.