Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Socialism... for the Children!
Monday's Austin American Statesman reported that a coalition of advocacy groups issued a "report card" on the well-being of Travis county children. Predictably, the "grades" were not good. According to the story:
"A shortage of affordable, quality child care, rising rates of reported child abuse and reduced government benefits all contributed to the poor marks given by a coalition of local nonprofits, social service agencies and child advocates.This report's definition of "well being" seems pretty slippery. Of course, desiring the best for the city's children is an honorable goal. But there are two problems. First, this "report card", which is annoyingly not linked from the Statesman story, says little about how well parents are upholding their responsibilities, except that they should be consuming more public services than they are now. It would be helpful to know:
The group, brought together by the Austin Child Care Council Public Awareness Committee, rated child health and safety in Travis County a D-, child care a D+ and school readiness a C-."
- Exactly how government benefits correlate to child well-being? Is there any data that shows a connection between increased Kids Medicaid, TANF, or Food Stamps funding and academic performance? Or health outcomes?
- The percentage of children growing up in fatherless homes in Austin
- The incidence of child abuse by single parent vs. intact homes
- The percentage covered by health care by single parent vs. intact homes
- The utilization of preventive health care by single parent vs. intact homes
- Some quantifiable measure of Austin parents involvement in their children's' education as it relates to academic performance and a breakout of this measure by single parent vs. intact homes
Furthermore, the groups associated with the "report card" likely stand to gain financially from the funding increases implied by the report. So, is this truly an effort to help the children of Austin? Or is it the beginning of a coordinated marketing campaign that seeks additional tax-payer funding and increases quasi-governmental involvement in the family?
"The quality of education one can expect to receive is generally comensurate with their ability to pay"
I propose that academic achievement should be our measuring stick, not "quality of education". I went to some pretty nice schools with many good teachers, yet my graduating class featured many bums, slackers, ne'er-do-wells and academic burnouts. Sadly, most of them had apathetic or absent parents.
"People like you who ignorantly blame the individual and not the society should wake up to themselves. After all, is it the child's fault that their parents don't arm them with the appropriate skills or attitudes to do well in school?"
The individual parents are responsible. The towns where I grew up had ample educational opportunity (nice schools, new equipment, good teachers, lots of extracurriculars), yet many of my classmates flamed out, mainly because of their home situations. Do you see how educational amenities, while useful, cannot replace positive parental involvement?
"The public system is supposed to be there to support all children, not just those who are fortunate enough to come from wealthy families."
Again, I think the family's wealth is a secondary issue. It's the attitudes and values transmitted in the home that correlate to academic success.
"And by the way only a fool would fail to see the correlation between a good education and well-being!"
How would you describe someone who could not see the correlation between positive parental involement and a good education?
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