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Christina Scores

Graph compiled by BryanTodd

I think most of you have seen this graph.  It shows the relationship between poverty and test scores in the Christina District… Obviously test scores are superficial.  If you are unconcerned with surviving, meaning everything is handed you on a silver platter, you have time and opportunity to do well on this test… But when your day is filled and occupied with eat, sleep, and moving from one place to another, you do not have time or any brain power left to do well on these idiotic tests…  These test do not test what you know; they test  how you respond within the artificial environment the question sets for you… If you didn’t eat, if you didn’t sleep, you are not going to care what happens to a jalopy traveling west at 56.33 mph.

Above we see the four inner city schools at LI (Low Income) levels between 75 to 85 percent…..  What is “LI”.. how low is low income?

To most of us, we’d naturally assume this is based on all those who get free or reduced lunch… “Well “we say, “those levels are set fairly high and therefore though the percentages are large, they don’t represent THAT MANY poor people”… Because the last time we looked into it now years ago, that is what it was…  Some families making $30,000 to $40,000 and above might be eligible.

If you have been reading Delaware’s official news sources (Transparent Christina, Kilroy’s, and Exceptional Delaware) you already know this.. But for others just tuning in…..

Post 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), National School Lunch Program included a Provision called the “Community Eligibility Provision” or CEP. Schools that elect CEP serve breakfast and lunch for free to all enrolled students. This would make it hard to determine low income status.

Delaware’s “Low income” designation is now determined by students who receive any one of the following benefits: TANF, SNAP (Direct Certification).  That is it..

So here is the chart for TANF……

Low income Delaware

And below is the chart for SNAP

Delaware SNAP levels

(You can enlarge both by clicking on the large thumbnails above.)

SNAP being the larger number means all those children of low income must fall below that level…. Delaware sets SNAP at the 130% of Federal Poverty Guideline..( FPG)

For a family of 4 that level is $2564 gross income… Actual take home would be near $2250.

For a family of 3 that level is $2144 gross income… Actual take home would be near $1950.

For 2…. $1705  with take home being near $1550.

For 2 spending $700 for housing drops you down to $850.  For 3, $1250. For 4…. $1550….

Per week what’s left…$216, $316, and $387 respectively…. And this is how 85% of these children live… Under this max….

That money goes to utilities, to food, to transportation, to school supplies… etc.

Now add to that crime, lack of adult supervision because the single parent has to work, endemic poverty in ones neighborhood, and one realizes there is no way any of these children can ever catchup to other children who have no such worries, on these tests…  Of course they have the same brain capacity… but who is going to tutor them?  Will all of you volunteer your time?

Furthermore, according to the National Center for Children in Poverty, … in Delaware 40% (78,513) of children live in low-income families (National: 44%),  Of these 47% (37,181) of children in low-income families have at least one parent who is employed full-time, year-round,,,32% (25,317) of children in low-income families have at least one parent who is employed either part-year or part-time…20% (16,015) of children in low-income families do not have an employed parent…

88% (17,692) of children whose parents do not have a high school degree live in low-income families. 60% (46,955) of children in low-income families live with a single parent,  56% (26,189) of all black children live in low-income families. 66% (17,613) of all Hispanic children live in low-income families.

43% (27,712) of children, under age 6, live in low-income families….  50% (16,785) of children of immigrant parents live in low-income families.  11% (8,647) of low-income children live in families with no parent present….

Get that? 6% of Delaware’s students do not have a parent present…… and just 1800 (of the 8,647)  would fill up the five schools at the right end of the chart… And that is what we are dealing with… Children whose challenge is to simply live, being forced to dance through hoop they can’t understand, to give businessmen the opportunity to cash in on their demise.

Please, please, please remember this when you see and hear corporate scum speak deprecatingly on these results… “Only 5% in some schools were proficient in math. that’s abominable”. Just image 85% of all those kids living on less than $200 a week with out parents….. and then fight to prevent anyone in that school from being held accountable for all those hungry working single moms only having $200 or less to spend each week…

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In 2011, 46.2 million people in the US were living in poverty and the nation’s official poverty rate was 15 percent, up from 14.3 percent in 2009, according to the US Census Bureau. That figure appears to be the highest number seen in the 52 years for which poverty estimates have been recorded…

The predominant face of the poor is white.

Economic insecurity among whites is said to be more common than is shown in the government’s poverty data, engulfing over 76 percent of white adults by the time they turn 60..

Economic  insecurity approaching 76%….. How does this end the middle class designation?

Let us review what is the middle class.  It is the class in the middle… Start and stop points and change depending on who want to show what, but for the most part, the middle class would have a center point around the 50% margin… Hence: middle class….

10%     20%     30%     40%     50%     60%     70%     80%     90%      

                            XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX 

Sort of what you’d expect… the area above the poverty line and just below the rich……But based on current data now released from the Census Bureau, (and this is no secret to people in public schools) over 80% of America has been at or below poverty levels in its lifetime… It really doesn’t matter when.  You could be financially stable through your whole life and then get termed at age 60.  The effect is the same. You could face 50% age group unemployment right out of college and use odd jobs and part time jobs to stay alive. The effect is the same.  The mark today is that 80% face economic insecurity.  Can we just call that poor?  Isn’t that the definition of poor?  Someone who doesn’t have enough to be secure in today’s society?

Therefore if we take the middle of those from where the poor end at 80%, then we get a middle class graphic looking like this:

10%     20%     30%     40%     50%     60%     70%     80%     90%                                                                                                            XXX

This is the official version of today’s America rendered by the US Census bureau…. Times have changed…

Compare that to where it was under Bill Clinton in 1999 before Republicans took over….

10%     20%     30%     40%     50%     60%     70%     80%     90%     

                             XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX 

No offense to my Republican friends but this (which sad to say is exactly what I predicted in 2000), is what you get when you don’t tax progressively. We now have only 2 classes; The 1%  and the 99%.

The fix? Is to tax the top 1% who can well afford even a purely theoretical 100% taxation without hardship, and use that money for jobs…. Just jobs. More government contracts.  This is America’s quick answer… and it must be decided in this election 2014 that we will take it.  Against all odds, we need both chambers in Democrats’ hands., not for Democrats, but for America. It’s the only way is to defeat Republicanism… We are not talking individual candidates.  We are talking about a philosophy that stresses the lazy poor 80% must continue to suffer even more to pay for the one percent’s excesses, and not as it should be, … the other way around…

 

 

 

Take two examples….

Dr. Ringo and John Beatle are a dual income family well on their way to securing the American dream… Ringo graduated in 2008 and John graduated in 2009.  They were married in 2011 and currently share a modest apartment.  Ringo earns $79,000 as an new doctor in the Christina Health Center, and John went in to partner with an older doctor up near Naamans Road in Brandywine Hundred.  He lists his income bertween 80 and 100 thousand, and we’ll average it out as $90,000 per year… Together their gross income this past year lines up at  $169,000.  Their net, after taxes averages  $109,000 per year or $9,000 per month…   not a shabby income. 

But they pay loans. 

John’s educational loan payment is $1340 per month, and  Ringo’s is $960 each of the 12 months… Together they each write out checks $2300 per month… Their leftover income  lies around $6400 per month….  Two cars take out $1,000, their city view apartment takes $1300. their utilities $500.  Insurance $300,   What’s left?  $3,300 per month… That alone equals a family income close to $40,000 per year…  still not shabby.. so what’s the point?

 

Now take Mick and Keith Stone, a married couple from moneyed families.  They went though college and law school on parent’s money.  No bills… Mick or Mickie as she is commonly called, works at Morris and James up on the 16th floor of the WSFS building in international investment law.  She makes between $80 and $100 K per year. and so we will round that to $90,000… Her husband Keith, is an district attorney in Wilmington.  He makes $79,000 per year. Together their income is  $169, 000 and after tax their net is $109,000…. They have almost the same mandatory expenses as the Beatle family and after similar expenses, they have $5,600 per month… 

The barristers Stones put $2,300 down each month into savings to buy a new house….  Over two years, they already have $55,200 saved up, and next year they seriously plan to house shop with a down payment of $82,800…  So what’s the point?

This battle of elites illustrates one thing; how our economy is not living to its full potential due to massive amounts of college loan debt.  These examples too rich for your blood?  Then drop the incomes down to the levels of the average professional; cut each person by $40,000 or $3333 per months… The first couple is flat broke.  The second couple still has $2200 left over to live on per month, but not enough to put into savings.  Their checking account rises and falls with spontaneous purchases. 

Here is the real problem:  Track it over the 30 years length of the loans…. The Beatles have after 30 years, nothing.  The Stones after 30 years, have extra wealth strictly left over from salary, of $828,000 assuming they put it in a mattress. More likely it has grown by 7% per year… or $2.7 million…

College loans aggravate the inequality gap.  the only way to get rich in America is to come from rich parents… With everything exactly the same except for the payment of college loans, one couple has $2.7 million after 30 years… The other still living month to month… if one starts his professional career at age 25… one’s loan at 30 years termed, end when he is 55… Too late to start saving for retirement… 

The fix…. 

 

Here are the ways to close the inequality gap.

  • Forgive the loans
  • Forgive the interest
  • Tax the wealth

Options one and two are out.  Remember that most pension plans (some are still left) insurance funds, and stock options are in the entities holding these loans.   

Option 3, .. if that money was taxed on the last couple (The Stones)) but not on the first (The Beatles)  then, over a period of time, there would be equality when the loan payments finally ended…  One would not have an unfair advantage over the other.

Multiply this across the entire spectrum of students holding $1`trillion dollar in debt… a debt now too big to fail, and you get the picture of how our economy was mortgaged out to big banks long before young people could even afford traditional  mortgages…

If we simply taxed the second couple an additional $2300 sort of as an equivalent of the loan payment they currently didn’t have to make, then playing field would even out.  Only then, could the hope and promise of America then return. . 

(Keep in mind these examples were from America’s best occupations.  College loans currently keep large numbers of working Americans still below poverty levels..)

 

 

 

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“Our classes aren’t divided equally. If you want us to have merit pay, you’ve got to base all our classrooms equally and give all teachers a chance to achieve those standards but it’s not set up that way. It never has been. “

“I’ve been teaching for nineteen years and I’ve had more evaluations this year than I had my first year of teaching. You are welcome in our classroom anytime. I want to be accountable. I am accountable,… but do it fairly,”

We’ve just watched the Olympics… What if any skier could start where they wanted to on the slope. As long as they had the shortest time, they won gold. What if a speed skater could skate as many times around the oval as he desired, and yet the shortest total time won?

Who would watch? No one. Because it is not fair… Obviously if you are going to give merit pay to teachers, you have to have equal arrangements…  An equal start where you begin. An equal finish where you end.  You can’t give one person all good students, and another all bad students, and golf-clap and pay the lucky one more? Perhaps lucky as she was, when it comes to teacher qualities, she isn’t the best one?

But how do you know? You certainly can’t tell from the test scores… because like a fake Olympics, you neglected to designate a starting line…

One seriously has to wonder if anyone thought merit pay through… Seriously! Did anyone really sit down for a day, play devils advocate, and think merit pay through?

Or did we base our whole system” on something that somebody said, because they though they fit together walking…. “, that is merit pay and teaching?

Do all teachers start with the same number of students in classes? Do all teachers start with the same spread of IQ’s across all their students? Do all teachers start with exactly the same low income mix in every classroom? Do all teachers start with exactly the same mix of non English students? Do all teachers start with the same number of Hispanics? Afro-Americans? American Indians? Asians? Caucasians?

What no? Then like the Olympics above, how can you say, whoopee, you win the gold?

Merit Pay will be the death of real education….

In 2012,…. 21.8% of all people under 18, lived in poverty, that is defined as a family of 4’s income under $23,050 (total yearly income)..That comes to under $443 per week. …

One in 5 children across America or 21.8%, live like that.   (More than a majority of Americans (58.5%) will spend at least one year below the poverty line at some point between ages 25 and 75.)..

The ratio is one in five.  In a class of 10, two students will be attending from a home under poverty.  In a class of 20, four students will come from families living in poverty.

Below is childhood poverty tracked across 53 years starting in 1959.

Image

Whatever we did from 1965 to 1979, we need to do again… See the low dip on the chart?  Our current high level of poverty is very near the record, with one major exception.  Unlike all other peaks we have plateaued at this bubble’s highest amount.  Notice how in 1993 and 1983, the same levels were reached under those two presidents, but quickly descended thereafter?  Since the election of the Tea Party Republicans to Congress, for the first time, poverty has stayed steady at the high water mark, for over 3 years in a row..

As soon as President’s Lyndon Baines Johnson’s War on Poverty took effect (50 years ago) child poverty declined until Reagan cut taxes in 1981… After he raised them back in a now famous agreement with Tip O’Neil, as the economy grew, childhood poverty fell.  Again after Clinton raised taxes in 1993, the poverty level dropped over the rest of his term, until George Bush and the Republicnas cut taxes again… Since those taxes were cut, the childhood poverty level has risen to the record levels it is near today….

Tax Cuts have repercussions that extend far beyond the wealthy getting more money back in taxes.  Higher tax rates boost the working economy; lower tax rates shred it…….

It is imperative that tax rates get raised as quickly as possible so this current plateau, the first 3 year one ever, the one created by the inaction of Congress because Republicans put the Tea party iin control of hte House…begins to drop down the other side.

Time is running out.  like global warming there will be a critical point we know is coming but where it comes we can’t predict.  The same urgency and fear need applied to childhood poverty and education’s role in helping end it…

The causes of poverty are complex and varied:

Yet the list of solutions is strikingly short. Other than picking a kid’s parents, it amounts to giving all children access to a high-quality education.

Here’s the catch-22. While the only long-term solution to poverty might be a good education, a good education is seldom available to children living in poverty…..

Philadelphia has really screwed up a lot of kids. So has Milwaukee,  And Chicago.. And DC….  all places where education reform has bulldozed down the existing public school structure, allowed for charters, then walked away of all accountability…. It is about to happen here in Wilmington, as well.

It starts with the Chamber of Commerce.  Then the Newspaper and media jump on.  Then a mysterious foundation materializes and begins issuing communiques that miraculously always land on the front page or the editorial pages of the most read journals…  The theme is the same.  Our public system is failing and we have to go private…

And the question never gets asked… who is making money off of this?  For when it does and the trail gets followed, it ends at the Chamber of Commerce… types, I should add.  In this case, the Longwood Foundation stands to get (if all tenants come on line)  at bargain rates, $1.6 million per month in rent….

Remember the entire building was donated to them.  Remember the state is paying for the capital improvements (which is fine if only Delawarean out-of-work laborers are hired to do the renovations) and the foundation of which the head of the Republican Party, Charlie Copeland, is the treasurer, gets to collect $1.6 million each month….  $19.2 million per year.  Free money

Even I would be in favor of such a system if it worked.  But as we can see from studying the effects upon those who left Pencader Charter School, on those who will be leaving Moyer Charter School, on those who are to be leaving REACH Charter School… not only does that concept not work, it actually plays with people’s lives towards the negative….  It’s bad. And the public systems already in place are systemically better….

The Southern Education Foundation reveals that nearly half of all U.S. public school students live in poverty.   Secondly, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, reveals that poverty — not race, ethnicity, national origin or where you attend school — is the best predictor of college attendance and completion.

Delaware has 51.9% of its students classified as low income….  To gain some perspective, ride the elevator up to the Morris and James office in the WSFS tower.  Step out of their copper colored elevators and look south, then draw an imaginary line straight south as far as you can see.  Everyone on the left is affluent, and everyone on the right is in poverty… New Castle, Delaware City are affluent.  Middletown, Newark, Glasgow are in poverty… THAT… is the reality we are dealing with…  THAT… is about as bad as the stories I’ve heard about the Great Depression….

But we’re not in a Depression! And some districts like Christina School District, have 61.7% of its students low income!!   That is over 6 out of every 10 students!  Is this really America?  Why does the News Journal fail to report this most significant factor in Delaware’s entire being?

Because they are in bed and loyal to the Chamber of Commerce types.  Who never deal so never care about those of low income levels… Certainly not enough to pay a penny or two extra on the dollar to help a brother or sister out….  Actually they are very generous to causes they patronize… so this is not an ad hominen or anti-wealthy attack..  It is just a push to show all that our priorities are in the wrong spot….

The donations and lip service are indeed well intended, and in their small way, certainly appreciated…  but the problem has grown beyond receiving free cases  plug-ins and Febreez to spritz up the room.   it is time to figure how we are going to get the elephant and all it’s dung, through a door that is now too little for it to pass…..

We need to take out a wall, pull out the elephant, clean out the dung, rebuild the wall, and then, use the Febreez and plug-ins to make it smell nice…

That elephant is poverty.  The only way that 51.9% of Delaware’s children EVEN HAVE A SHOT OF ESCAPING POVERTY!!!!  is through a good public school education……

Yet every year with Charter Schools, we are taking tons of money out and away from public education….

We are closing the door on half of Delaware’s children…  SLAM, Lock, throw away the key…..

We need to start working on that elephant problem now!

If added together, homeless students now would make up the largest school district in the country—at nearly 1.17 million, considerably more than the entire student population of New York City public schools. Their numbers have grown 24 percent in the last three years, and 10 percent in the last year alone, according to a new federal analysis released by the National Center for Homeless Education, part of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Forty states have seen a rise in their homeless-student populations in 2011-12, and 10 of those faced a jump of 20 percent or more.

One cannot expect to achieve gains in education when one turns a blind eye to poverty.  The test results of these children are guaranteed to be low.  No great teaching will raise them up.  Whereas the number of children living in shelters has remained relatively flat,  the numbers doubling-up with friends or family, living in hotels and motels, and those without any kind of shelter at all have increased since 2009…

Just last week we saw the results of a study by Southern Education Foundation which showed : 17 states spanning nearly all of the South, Southwest and West Coast, the majority of public school students qualified for free or reduced-price meals in 2011 

Transportation is always one of the biggest problems for homeless students…

It is time to stop babysitting corporations who take, take, take.  And stop coddling the extreme wealthy who take, take, take.  Every legislator now, right now, needs between now and January, to travel their district, go door to door, and ask how their constituents are doing.  Once you get the real answer, be prepared to say no to Governor Markell’s upcoming tax break for the wealthy, Instead, we need multiple tiers at the top, and we need to increase the percentages paid by those who can afford it. We should not be giving tax breaks to rich as long as we have one student who is homeless!

There is just too much work to be done….. to keep playing Santa Clause to rich people.