The One Campaign just launched “On the Recordâ€, an online resource that compares presidential candidates’ positions on global poverty and health issues. The interactive website allows you to view a taped video response by each candidate, and compare their policy proposals to The One Campaign’s positions.
Today the AP reported a John Hopkins study that found 12 percent of America’s high schools ‘dropout factories’ that graduate less than 60 percent of students who enter as freshmen. And according to the report,
The highest concentration of dropout factories is in large cities or high-poverty rural areas in the South and Southwest. Most have high proportions of minority students. These schools are tougher to turn around, because their students face challenges well beyond the academic ones — the need to work as well as go to school, for example, or a need for social services.
Aaron at Faithfully Liberal offers a personal testimony from his experience in a ‘dropout factory,’ and I’d like to add my own. In 2001, I taught 110 seventh graders in a rural school that was 90 percent African American and 50 percent impoverished. When I returned for their graduation this spring, about 65 kids crossed the stage. The kids who dropped out are effectively locked in poverty, and most of the graduates are academically far behind their peers in more affluent districts, which restricts their opportunities as well. Simply put, America’s education system contributes to the trap of concentrated poverty, and that is a moral scandal in a country that prides itself as a land of opportunity filled with people of deep faith.
No Child Left Behind created as many problems as it solved at my school, and vouchers would have done no good because there’s only one private school nearby, and it’s all white (actually, there are many other reasons vouchers wouldn’t work). But what’s missing isn’t just the right policy fix, it’s the sense of urgency. If Americans cared more about poor kids, we’d have taken much more drastic action by now. After all, this problem has been with us in some form or another since the country was founded.
When I was in Teach For America, we talked often about long-term goals, and the most eloquent one I ever heard was that one day we would look back at America’s separate, unequal education system as a thing of the past and ask ourselves as a society, “how did we ever let that happen?” To that I’d add “..and may God forgive us.”
While the Frost family dominated many conservative minds and Ann Coulter offended everyone else, the folks at Jubilee USA drew a successful forty-day focus on debt relief to a close. And incredibly Rev. David Duncombe participated for the entire Cancel Debt Fast. That’s right he fasted for 40 day and 40 nights. Here’s video of Rev. Duncombe talking about the experience about sixteen days into it.
Yesterday, due to Jubilee USA’s six week lobby efforts, Representatives Spencer Bachus (R-AL), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Emmanuel Cleaver (D-MO), also did a one day fast in support of debt canceling legislation. During the 40 day fast, the Jubilee Act for Expanded Debt Cancellation and Responsible Lending got 20 additional congressional sponsors to:
* Cancel the debts of up to 26 additional nations not currently eligible for debt cancellation, provided that they demonstrate plans to spend the money wisely on poverty reduction;
* Cut harmful requirements that are delaying access to life-saving debt relief for countries like Haiti and Liberia;
* Call on the Treasury Secretary to address the challenges presented by so-called vulture funds, one of which recently extracted $15 million from impoverished Zambia; and
* Establish policies for responsible lending to avoid odious and unjust debt accumulation in the future, beginning with an audit of past odious debts by the Government Accountability Office.
It is interesting to see who in the the faith community is speaking out publicly on SCHIP funding. With the “pro-family” religious Right not only silent on helping working families afford more than a prayer, they are also very silent on the blog attacks on the Frost family.
On a more hopeful note here’s a Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare Policy interview with Glenn Palmberg of the Evangelical Covenant Church on SCHIP
What are the moral implications of SCHIP?
This legislation means health care, or a lack thereof, for an additional 4 to 6 million children. About 4 million children are covered by SCHIP, and it’s been a pretty successful program. This legislation would add 6 million more children who don’t have, can’t afford, and can’t get health insurance. That’s a moral issue. We have a responsibility for caring for the poor. It makes a huge difference if they get preventive care and prenatal care. That will affect them for a lifetime.
The Senate passed SCHIP with enough votes to override the President’s veto. The House also passed the bill, but was 15 votes short of overriding a veto without another vote on Oct. 18. What are you doing to persuade House members to change their previous vote?
We have a list of people who have shown some openness to the possibility of changing their vote. We will be approaching them and urging them to vote for an override. There will be pressure put on people to change their minds. We’re going to keep track of how people vote. This is not without controversy and opposition within the denomination, so it will be more voluntary on ECC members’ part.