So Arne Duncan is wrong. The Education Reformers are wrong. The Teach for America robots are wrong. It is simply not true that education is the only way to end poverty. And saying that it is to get more money from the Walton Family for your education reform non-profit is viciously stupid.
Additionally, focusing only on education to reduce or eliminate poverty is extraordinarily cruel. It says right from the start that if you are past the point where more education is practical, your poverty will not end. Sorry moms and dads of the world who are simply not in a position to get a degree: I hope the afterlife treats you better.
This focus is also cruel because it claims that the poverty children face is impossible to remedy for as many as 18-22 years. Sorry poor children of America (which by the way is more than 1 in 5 children): if you play your cards right, maybe you will be out of poverty after you get out of college. With the modern life expectancy at 78 years of age, that’s only 28% of your life that we will force you to live in poverty prior to you having even a chance of getting out of it."
I got distracted, but I just got back to this article
And this whole segment just is like really making me hate life.
Because I’m thinking about the whole nature of actuary-based economic commentary like this. People cite the broad numbers, but the picture is far more bleak when you started adding intersections. Essentially, any broad sweep number like this (for those who need it spelled out) essentially whitewashes the scenario.
The truth is race DOES have an impact, and gender DOES have an impact on how economic policy plays out. So does national origin (again, if you need it spelled out, race is not necessarily synonymous with nationality), ethnicity, religious background. And people can try to sweep it under the rug, but it’s there.
Of course, this doesn’t take into account we’re talking about people living in poverty, which means we can’t even rely on the 78% number, nor the numbers to which I linked. We have to actually get more specific and look at the numbers (relevant tables pp. 37*, 106-109, but the whole thing is interesting) for people living in poverty.
I say this in support of the article, I suppose, but it’s still necessary to be specific when we’re talking about dealing with poverty. Under capitalism, poverty doesn’t just happen. Poverty is a punitive symptom of a larger problem.
And that’s why we can’t just talk about class without specifying what site of class we’re talking about.**
Which means, ultimately, we can’t talk about rectifying poverty and its human toll without speaking about how so much of our nation’s inability to even broach the subject is based on the traditional presumption on the part of the State (both as a phenomenon and in the specific case of the US) that those who are suffering economically (and therefore in other ways) are racially or culturally undesirable.*** And that notion (hold my hand, those of you having trouble keeping up, I’ll try to make the jump easy), is DIRECTLY related to Imperialist/Colonial thinking. It is that very principle which props up the Capitalism we live under, which in turn manifests itself primarily (though not exclusively) White Supremacy.
Remember that quote about how America is full of poor people who KNOW they’re secret millionaires? Well, that’s not entirely accurate. What it’s full of is poor WHITE people who KNOW they’re secret Emperors.
*Note: I’m having trouble locating for specific tables based on income, but the actual report tackles some of the conclusions one can draw by cross-referencing the factors that are covered. That being the case, while “education” level is not inherently reliable as an indicator of income level, it does give a good suggestion when used alongside race and geographic concerns (which are given their own tables).
**Note: By which I mean, if we’re talking about privilege/power based on economic position, we have to then locate it within other factors. White wealth is different from Latin@ wealth, and [co-]exist with white poverty and Latin@ poverty in different ways. Likewise, Black wealth operates in a different space from Asian wealth (which, as with all these other examples, can further be faceted into South Asian, East Asian, Southeast Asian, Asian Diasporic). The power one gains from wealth and/or economic privilege is not synonymous, no matter what folks would say. There are, obviously, overlapping examples, but that does not change the fact that there are notable differences (off the top of my head, this mess with Forest Whitaker being racially profiled is a clear example of how wealth doesn’t provide the same shield across racial lines).
***Note: To be brief, I’m only going to go to Daniel Patrick Moynihan and his report on urban poverty and resultant family formations among Black Americans and Reagan’s wraith, the “Welfare Queen” which still haunts us some thirty years later, despite numerous debunkings. Oh, and to get really old school and academia on ya, look at John Locke before you say these things and our nation’s (in particular, but not alone) idea of economics isn’t born and bred on racism and disenfranchisement.
this is just worth reading, period. (also, the other day—because I’m a masochist apparently—I listened to an irritatingly vacuous Catholic podcast about the horrors of gay marriage that had the gall to cite the Moynihan Report, so I’m even happier than usual to see it called out.)