Tag Archives: education

The Poor People’s Campaign – A 50 year old idea whose time has come

In December 1967, Rev. Dr. King announced the plan to bring together poor people from across the country for a new march on Washington. This march was to demand better jobs, better homes, better education—better lives than the ones they were living. Rev. Dr. Ralph Abernathy explained that the intention of the Poor People’s Campaign of 1968 was to “dramatize the plight of America’s poor of all races and make very clear that they are sick and tired of waiting for a better life.”

In April 2019 we are still dealing with many of the same issues that Dr. King addressed with his Poor People’s Campaign. If anything the gap between the haves and the have nots has widened not shrunk. Income disparities have become so pronounced that America’s top 10 percent now average more than nine times as much income as the bottom 90 percent. Americans in the top 1 percent tower stunningly higher. They average over 39 times more income than the bottom 90 percent. But that gap pales in comparison to the divide between the nation’s top 0.1 percent and everyone else. Americans at this lofty level are taking in over 188 times the income of the bottom 90 percent.

Between 1979 and 2007, paycheck income for those in the richest 1 percent and 0.1 percent exploded. The wage and salary income for these elite groups dipped after the 2008 financial crisis but have nearly regained their pre-crisis value. Meanwhile, the bottom 90 percent of earners have seen little change in their average income, with just a 22 percent increase from 1979 to 2017

Medical bills were the biggest cause of U.S. bankruptcies. A new study from academic researchers found that 66.5 percent of all bankruptcies were tied to medical issues —either because of high costs for care or time out of work. An estimated 530,000 families turn to bankruptcy each year because of medical issues and bills, the research found.

Fifty years ago President Lyndon Johnson articulated that: 

“If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

Today our President uses devise speech to tap into fears and subconscious racism embedded in each of us to keep the “every-person” divided rather than united. 

A popular saying for many in the Trump base is that we’re losing our America.  But the truth is it was never, for the vast majority of them anyway, “their” America. The America they claim they are losing was and has always the America of the rich white man.  Access to the best schools and quality health care. The ability to “legally” manipulate the tax system to shelter money from the ever increasing taxes you and I pay. Consistently looking to increase their bottom lines at the expense of the average American. 

Now let’s be clear here and not misunderstand what I am saying.  I’m not saying that every wealthy white man acts this way or that they are inherently evil or solely responsible for many of the ills that the average working American, regardless of color or gender, faces on an everyday basis. What I am saying however is that there is a select few who have always had the money and the power to control the narrative. To keep the masses at each other throats, pointing accusatory fingers at each other and fighting for the scraps thrown their way. 

It is amazing how often the poorest of the poor will vote against their self interest because they have been led to believe it is in their best interest to ensure the well being of the wealthy. Ensure their well being because after all one day they will drink from that same prosperous cup. That is as long as (insert race, gender or religious identity) doesn’t take what is rightfully theirs.  The concept that they are more like that person they have been conditioned to believe is threatening them then they will ever be to the wealthy who promote the narrative is seemingly foreign to them. 

But the truth is Dr. King had it right in 1967 and  if he would have lived to see his campaign through he would have been seen as more of a threat to the “establishment’s” way of life than anything he accomplished during the civil rights movement.  Simply put there is power in numbers, there is power in unity and if the majority of Americans put aside their hatred of each other, embraced their similarities and united in the fight against inequality there is no telling what this country could accomplish. Imagine a country with affordable and quality health care and education for all. Wage equality and a tax system that treated the 99% the same as the 1% and maybe as a byproduct of coming together to fight the inequalities we all face we’ll gain better understanding of each other. Now that’s a dream worth fighting for. 

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An uneducated society is the biggest threat to our democracy

0FC0D456-20B3-4A48-A1A6-5C1D5BF12106.jpegThe surest way to control the narrative, to ensure that the few can control the thoughts and choices of the many through clever slogans and sound bites is to endeavor to keep the many ignorant.  An uneducated society is the biggest threat to our democracy.  The founding fathers understood this as Thomas Jefferson stated:

“Educate and inform the whole mass of the people… They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”

Public education has been under attack by some for many years now.  Just last week The Washington Post reported that the Trump administration’s initial education budget would strip $10.6 billion from federal initiatives.  Many of the cuts would disproportionately impact poorer school districts.  Something the founding fathers would be dismayed at. John Jay was quoted as saying:

“ I consider knowledge to be the soul of a republic, and as the weak and wicked are generally in alliance, as much care should be taken to diminish the number of the former as of that latter. Education is the way to do this, and nothing should be left undone to afford all ranks of people that means of obtaining a proper degree of it at a cheap and easy rate.”

And John Adams wrote:

 “The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves.”

Turning a blind eye to the dismantling of public education is to in essence relinquish our democracy over to the few who will continue to bamboozle the masses in order to maintain their wealth and power.

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The danger within

A country whose citizens:

Turns a blind eye to social injustice, 

Condones immoral behavior from their leaders,

Believes anything that those in power tell them rather than educating themselves.

Allows their government in essence to be run by and to the benefit of the wealthy few.

Need not worry about its enemies because in time it will be destroyed from with-in

 

Education is the key

The foundation of any great democracy is the
education of its citizens. For any democracy
to flourish its people must be knowledgeable
enough to comprehend the matters of
contention which are paramount to the well
being of the masses. Without an educated
populace democracy becomes nothing more
than an illusion to be manipulated to the will of the few.

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Misinformation = Division

There is a reason they disparage those who educate our youth, mock those who embrace intelligence and make higher education unaffordable to the masses. It is to ensure we remain easily mislead. It is to ensure that misinformation remains a way of life because

Misinformation leads to ignorance
Ignorance leads to fear
Fear leads to isolation
Isolation leads to mistrust
Mistrust leads to intolerance
Intolerance leads to hate
Hate leads to division

And division ensures we that we never band together as one but continue to fight each other over the crumbs they toss us. It is to ensure we remain victims. It is to ensure their way of life.

– Matthew 12:25 New King James Version (NKJV)
But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. –

We are all victims

There is a reason they work so hard to change the narrative.

There is a reason they look to marginalize those who shed light on injustice.

There is a reason they look to divide our society along lines of race, religion, gender, economic status and sexual orientation.

There is a reason they disparage those who educate our youth.

There is a reason they mock intelligence and make higher education unaffordable to the masses.

It is to ensure their way of life.

It is to ensure that we never band together as one but continue to fight each other over the crumbs they toss us.

It is to ensure we are never quite educated enough to understand the game they are playing on us.

It is to ensure we remain victims.

For if we ever stood up as one educated people and said no more to racism, bigotry, misogyny and economic inequality, we would cease to be a victim and become a threat to their way of life.

Raising the minimum wage is a step – But it’s just the first one.

The calls for increasing the minimum wage continue to get louder with four more states voting for measures to raise their minimum wages last Tuesday, bringing the overall number of states that have passed such laws to 29. While there is little doubt that raising the minimum wage is long overdue and an essential step in assisting individuals and families escape poverty. It is but one step up the socio-economic ladder. Real and sustainable progress toward eliminating poverty necessitates a multipronged approach. Two critical outlets to genuine economic empowerment, education and workforce development training, should both be fully embracing and provided adequate funding.

The first and most important step to accomplishing this is ensuring that those individuals who have the power work tirelessly to remove inherent barriers to economic opportunity for all. This will not happen on its own, people effect change and in this country one of the most powerful ways to that is at the ballot box: Peter Edelman expressed that exact sentiment in a New York Times opinion article on July 28, 2012 in which he said:

“A surefire politics of change would necessarily involve getting people in the middle — from the 30th to the 70th percentile — to see their own economic self-interest. If they vote in their own self-interest, they’ll elect people who are likely to be more aligned with people with lower incomes as well as with them. As long as people in the middle identify more with people on the top than with those on the bottom, we are doomed. The obscene amount of money flowing into the electoral process makes things harder yet.”

“The change has to come from the bottom up and from synergistic leadership that draws it out. When people decide they have had enough and there are candidates who stand for what they want, they will vote accordingly.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/opinion/sunday/why-cant-we-end-poverty-in-america.html?pagewanted=all

THE CALL TO EMBRACE EDUCATION

“These children and their parents know that getting an education is not only their right, but a passport to a better future – for the children and for the country.” — Harry Belafonte

The website DOSOMETHING.ORG lists 11 facts about education and poverty in America, the one common thread that runs through all 11 is that those living in poverty have a higher likelihood of failing academically and thus remaining in poverty. https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-education-and-poverty-america

Study after study has shown that education is one of if not the key factor in escaping poverty. A child’s desire to learn must be encouraged at an early age and continually stimulated as they grow. It is crucial that adults from family members and local educators to business leaders and politicians shoulder the responsibility of ensuring that there is both a sound home and educational environment where a child’s innate desire to learn and discover is cultivated and that funding for education is a top priority.

Of course everything comes with a price and education is not free. Money is needed to provide the type of quality education that children need today to compete in the increasingly competitive global economy and yes it is true that you can’t simply throw money at every problem and hope that fixes it, education being no different. But you can make smart decisions about where the money is thrown and in the case of education when money is used smartly more is never less. Elaine Weiss, the national coordinator for the Broader Bolder Approach to Education (BBA), wrote that Kids who are living in poverty need more, not less, of the supports that help upper-class children thrive. These include small classes, challenging, rich curriculum, individualized instruction and supportive responses to emotional and behavioral challenges. It also means ensuring a meaningful “floor” – in terms of school readiness, physical and mental health, and nutrition – on which they can stand in order to viably learn. http://billmoyers.com/2013/11/06/the-real-21st-century-problem-in-public-education-is-poverty/.

THE CALL TO FUND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

A well-educated, highly skilled workforce may be the most important ingredient to strengthen our economy and ensure a high quality of life.

As more children learn how to download and use an app on their smartphone and tablet before they learn their ABCs it is becoming increasingly clear that advances in technology are creating a job market that many Americans are simply not prepared for. Communities must continue to push for and demand that funds are appropriated for workforce development programs that as Senator Bob Portman, one of the co-authors of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), said “modernizes and improves existing federal workforce development programs to be more responsive to the needs of employers, and more effective in connecting the unemployed with good-paying jobs”.

The bipartisan (yes that word still exists) Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Signed into law by President Barack Obama on July 22, 2014 is a start. As the President stated:

“The bill I’m about to sign…will give communities more certainty to invest in job-training programs for the long run.” He added that the bill will help bring those training programs into the 21st century by “building on what we know works based on evidence, and based on tracking what actually delivers” for those who enroll in the programs — more partnerships with employers, tools to measure performance, and flexibilities for states and cities to innovate and run their training programs in ways best suited for their particular demographics and particular industries.

There is no question that the road out of poverty is a very long one and will require continued vigilance by all. We must continue to make our voice heard by calling for increases in the minimum wage but we also must not lose sight of the other paths out of poverty that must be paved if we are to truly see its end.