Monday, March 15, 2010


United Way in the Twin Cities is putting a lot of money into early education, as are the Bush and McKnight Foundations. As a result, there is very little money for other problems, such as the problem which interests Patrick, homelessness. Pat's comment was:

So this kid is pre-school or early school, and one of her parents is among the 20% of workers who are unemployed or underemployed. Maybe both parents are out of work. The family house has been foreclosed, and the family is living in a shelter. They have no money, no health care, not enough food. The shelter is noisy and crowded. The kid sleeps on a mat on the floor.

So you are going to solve the kid's problems with early education. She is going to be reading Tolstoy and sleeping on a mat on the floor in a shelter, while worry and stress drive her parents crazy.

Education is not a cure all, especially in a society that does not create enough jobs and does not provide a decent social safety net. Kids are not going to learn their way out of poverty. The highly educated people at United Way and the foundations may not know this, but poor kids know it.

Yes, education could be better. We know the solution to this problem. Fund the schools adequately. Make sure the buildings are not falling down. Make sure the teachers are paid adequately. Make sure there are enough teachers. Realize that education is going to be more expensive than it used to be, when trouble making kids were expelled, and no one tried to educate the disabled in the public school system.

But if you do all this, and there aren't jobs or national health care or a decent social safety net, people are still going to be sleeping in shelters.

The problem today is not lack of skills, it is lack of jobs. When you say people need to get an education or new skills, you are saying the problem is them.

The jobs aren't there. They really are not, especially the jobs for highly skilled people.


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