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The Decade of Lost Children

Ohanian Comment: Charles Blow's column is especially important when one considers the New York Times editorial position, which echoes the Obama-Business Roundtable/Thomas Friedman position, blaming teachers for children's poverty--or, even more pronounced, insisting that teachers just use poverty as an "excuse" for academic failure. The Corporate-politico solution (echoed by NY Times editorial) is to decree Common Core Standards and Testing--further reducing any teacher ability to engage individual children. It will be high tech curriculum delivery and high tech testing all the time. Instead of a national test in the schools, we need a national living wage for every worker.

Now, what needs to happen next is for Mr. Blow to explain why this is happening. You can write and urge him to do this.


Note: I submitted my comments to the online comment at the NY Times. They refused to include them. My track record with them is that they don't allow criticism of Tom Friedman.

Reader Comment: What you didn't say is that the Obama Administration, in collusion with Tea Party Republicans and the Gang of Six, not to mention Obama's Cat Food Commission, have conspired to make the situation worse. They have negotiated cuts in entitlements, no more aid to states, and general cuts in the budget. Even cuts in non-war defense spending, as are contemplated in the new Super Committee process, will hurt the economy and deepen the recession which has never really ended.

As Joe Nocera noted in today's column, "Mark Zandi, the well-known economist at Moody's Analytics ... acknowledged to me that if major spending cuts take place in 2013, as is currently envisioned, they will cost the country 1.5 percent of G.D.P. The debt ceiling deal, it seems to me, practically guarantees another recession."

So let us not mourn what a dreadful impact the recession has already imposed on America's children without acknowledging that the leaders of our federal government (as well as state officials, as you do point out) are determined to worsen their plight.

The Constant Weader at www.RealityChex.com

Canadian Reader Comment: t is not just a lost generation that will be lost also a country that will be lost. It is clear that the US will be quite a different country socially and politically in less than 20 years. As it moves away from any concern for the poor, the working and middle classes it will become more feudal in its social and economic structure. There will be a wealthy elite at the top, but also an elite that feels besieged by the classes below that it has crushed. It is unlikely that the US will remain a democracy or certainly like no democracy that those of us born in the latter part of the 20t century would recognize. There will be a strong state police and security apparatus to deal with security threats except that most of those efforts will be directed against American citizens.

By Charles M. Blow

One of the greatest casualties of the great recession may well be a decade of lost children.

According to The State of America's Children 2011, a report issued last month by the Children's Defense Fund, the impact of the recession on children's well-being has been catastrophic.

Here is just a handful of the findings:

  • The number of children living in poverty has increased by four million since 2000, and the number of children who fell into poverty between 2008 and 2009 was the largest single-year increase ever recorded.

  • The number of homeless children in public schools increased 41 percent between the 2006-7 and 2008-9 school years.

  • In 2009, an average of 15.6 million children received food stamps monthly, a 65 percent increase over 10 years.

  • A majority of children in all racial groups and 79 percent or more of black and Hispanic children in public schools cannot read or do math at grade level in the fourth, eighth or 12th grades.

  • The annual cost of center-based child care for a 4-year-old is more than the annual in-state tuition at a public four-year college in 33 states and the District of Columbia.

  • Grim data, indeed. And there is no sign that things will get better anytime soon.

    As a report issued last week by the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out: "Of the 47 states with newly enacted budgets, 38 or more states are making deep, identifiable cuts in K-12 education, higher education, health care, or other key areas in their budgets for fiscal year 2012. Even as states face rising numbers of children enrolled in public schools, students enrolled in universities, and seniors eligible for services, the vast majority of states (37 of 44 states for which data are available) plan to spend less on services in 2012 than they spent in 2008 -- in some cases, much less. These cuts will slow the nation's economic recovery and undermine efforts to create jobs over the next year."

    We risk the creation of an engorged generational underclass born of a culture that has less income equality and fewer prospects for mobility than the previous generation.

    It's hard to see how we emerge from this downturn and its tumult a stronger nation if we allow vast swatches of our children to be lost. My fear is that we may not.

    I invite you to join me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter, or e-mail me at chblow@nytimes.com.

    — Charles M. Blow
    New York Times





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