Impact of Poverty on Families

I received this e-mail from Kaleem Caire, Executive Director of Fight for Children based in Washington D.C. Mr. Caire is a former Madison resident who although ran unsuccessfully for Madison School Board in 1998 brought up many key issues regarding Minority Student Achievement.
Kaleem Caire wrote:
A short, important slide presentation:
http://www.nccbuscc.org/cchd/povertyusa/tour2.htm
Enough said.
Kaleem
kaleem.caire@fightforchildren.org

  • Johnny, thanks for posting this.
    There are many aspects to the problem, as the animation points out. Periodically, I take a look at photos from my immigrant Grandparents farm where, after the Great Depression, they had nothing. Lard sandwiches were the chosen cuisine. I never experienced that hardship, but my father did.
    Clearly, a challenging and accessible curriculum for all is a big part of the solution, but not the whole answer. In addition, a wide variety of activities such as arts and sports help to keep children engaged. I’ve been quite disappointed to find that Madison Schools offer nowhere near the sports opportunities for K-8 that I enjoyed growing up in Watertown (The Y offers a variety of programs along with other organizations but that costs extra money and is not part of the school experience).
    Top that off with reductions in children’s programs while growing District administrative spending (in a 320M+ budget; 13K+ per student among the highest in the state) and I find myself perplexed at where the District is going.
    I hope these items are addressed in the Superintendent’s review, evidently being done for the first time since 2002 (!) according to Jason Shepherd’s Talking out of School column in this week’s Isthmus.
    It is possible to put the children first, we simply have to decide to do it. Loehrke shows the way in this respect:
    http://www.schoolinfosystem.org/archives/2005/08/florence_school_2.php

  • Johnny Winston, Jr.

    Jim:
    Thanks for your comments. Kaleem Caire periodically sends me information about what his organization is doing in Washington DC. I’ll post things on SIS if they’re relevant to Madison issues. Poverty is definitely one of them.
    I have noticed quite the conversation related to curriculum. I hope that the Superintendent’s committee to address the middle school curriculum will even the playing field across the district. However, I caution that to address this issue will make some parents (and school staff) happy and others not.
    Related to your comment regarding athletic programs, I think this is one of the challenges of living in the big city (of Madison). This city has enough youth programs (and athletic programs). So much so that they compete with each other for talent and space. When the district wanted to charge a fee to use school fields (like the City), a lot of the community providers balked. Well, someone has to pay. Community programs are not held to the same standard as school programs. School programs can’t say no to someone because they can’t pay. Community programs can. This separates the haves and the have nots.
    I believe one of the best things that this district can do (and should do) is to say “No.” Freshman No Cut Sports should have been one of the first things to be cut when revenue limits were developed. Now, no one believes that the district is “broke” because the board and Administration always find a way (to fund something). Don’t even get me started on 4 year old kindergarten. Unless it is fully funded by the state and funded everywhere, let’s not even have the conversation.
    Administration shouldn’t be the only class of employees not to receive a raise. How do you get good administrators or keep them if you can’t pay them the going rate. While I didn’t support the last proposal, I don’t believe they should bare the brunt of revenue limits. Now that Wisconsin Cities and Counties have revenue limits, let’s see how they do. Let’s see how the community understands between picking up garbage and snow removal versus police and fire protection versus pools and the Overture Center.
    Again, thanks for the comments.
    Johnny