How does poverty affect education in America

Poor America

When Jon Bivens' eight-year-old son comes home from elementary school in Alabama with a stamp on his forearm, the father initially thinks it was a "well done!" Award. But far from it: the stamp says "I need meal money".

"Can't the school call me if there is not enough money?" The father says indignantly. “My son is not a cattle to be branded.” Seventh grader Caitlin Dolan had to watch on her first day at school in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania as the cashier dumped her meal tray with pizza, apple and chocolate milk in the trash because her parents dumped it Cafeteria menu had not been filled up. "I was so ashamed," says Caitlin, "everyone stared and gossiped about me."

Other schools force poor children to scrub floors when they want to eat. And in New Mexico, the governor just signed the first law making it a criminal offense to shame children when their parents can't afford to eat. "The law obliges the schools to work out a solution with the parents - and not to punish the children for something that is not their responsibility."

Most read this week:

America has the worst child poverty rate in the western world: 21.1 percent based on the poverty line, less than $ 24,000 a year for a family of four. Every fifth child is considered poor, that is more than 15 million children. For comparison: In Germany it is 6.2 percent, in Sweden it is only 3.6 percent. America is one of the richest countries in the world.

"Child poverty is not because the Americans didn't look after the children," says Nobel Prize winner and economist Joseph Stiglitz. “Rather, it has to do with the fact that America has pursued a political agenda over the past few decades that allowed for high levels of inequality in the economy. The most endangered sections of society are falling further and further behind. "America, that's how Stiglitz diagnosed him Handelsblatt, »Has the lowest equality of opportunity among industrialized countries«.

What is the best thing to do with children from poor families? The German answer: Hartz IV. The American: pillory, according to the motto: That will be a lesson to them. Urban Development Minister Ben Carson just called poverty "a state of mind." Translated, his message is: You are to blame for your own misery. The myth of the American Dream: You just have to work hard to pull yourself out of the swamp on your own. Most of the poor in America work, they often even have several jobs, the starvation wages just not enough to feed the family and pay medical bills.

The class differences are much greater in America than here: The richest 10 percent of Americans are divided according to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Reports 75 percent of America's wealth is the starkest contrast between rich and poor since the 1920s.

Children pay the highest price for this, and America is doing everything it can to further exacerbate class divisions. A few weeks ago we reported that in most American states there is no statutory maternity leave even remotely comparable to European standards and no parental allowance. There is also no child benefit. This is not the only reason why 75 percent of the students at the elite schools come from wealthy families.

Poor children are more than twice as likely to suffer from asthma and learning disabilities. There are countless studies that show that a country benefits most from investing in the education of low-income children. The balance is even more serious when you see where the wealthy lives: White households are on average seven times as wealthy as blacks (and six times as much as Latinos).

To date, two-thirds of blacks live in low-income neighborhoods, which are mostly equipped with poorer schools and fewer opportunities to work. Blacks are almost twice as likely to be unemployed as whites, even for academics. When a Harvard professor sent out applications with names that sounded "black" and "white" for a study, applicants who the companies assumed were white received invitations for interviews twice as often if they had the same qualifications. Many of the low-income aid programs also benefit whites.

In this mosaic of discrimination, it seems like mockery to preach to the poorest that they just have to try harder. The budget that Trump presented, however, provides for extreme savings, especially for the poorest: Trump wants to cut more than 3 trillion euros (the equivalent of 3,208,127,328,000 euros) from the already holey social network in order to arm, tax gifts for mega-rich and the Mexico Wall finance.

With the food stamps alone (the program SNAP, which currently supplies 44 million people) he wants to save almost 200 billion dollars in the next ten years, the cuts will primarily affect large families with many children, the elderly and people with disabilities. Health insurance for children from low-income families (das Childrens Health Insurance Programwhich currently insures 9 million children) should not be renewed. Medicaid, health insurance for low-income earners, is to be cut in half. Training programs are to be cut by 13 percent, or $ 10.6 billion. Support programs and food distribution for socially disadvantaged children? Deleted, shortened, not extended.

Budget director Mick Mulvaney sells the extreme erosion of the social network in favor of tax breaks for the mega-rich as an act of compassion: "We no longer measure compassion by the number of programs or the number of people who benefit from these programs," Mulvaney said, smiling "We want to measure compassion, real compassion, by the number of people we take out of these programs."

He gave the draft budget a great title, The Foundation of America's Greatness. Critics call it the “Robin Hood budget, just the other way around”: Take money away from the poor and give it to the rich.

Photo: dpa