It’s Poverty, Stupid!

Education Ideas and Issues International


New Orleans The facts of the matter are painful to read, but important not to overlook.  In a twist of the old James Carville line:  “It’s poverty, stupid!”   Meaning really that it’s the whole environment  and economy that matter in the development of people and individuals  and not just one or two factors or institutions taken out of context.  Not addressing poverty and all of its implications at home and abroad sentences people to one arrogant presumption of success after another which later ends in the finality of failure for millions.

This comes to mind on two fronts today.

One is an excellent column by Joe Nocera in the New York Times going to the heart of the matter about the issues avoided by school reformers when they pretend that everything can be controlled and determined inside the classroom by holding teachers accountable and ignoring what happens in the economy and the crushing real world of poverty which so-called elitist, largely private school educated rich folks would like to ignore.  Education seems like an easy fix compared to poverty for elitists.

The other was a depressing report on the fact that contrary to the “it’s getting better every day” claim of the neo-liberalist globalist booster club that argues that everything is rosy if we just have free trade and unfettered markets around the world, shockingly there were indications that very poor women in 14 African countries are getting shorter, a sure sign of health and nutritional failures, and that women in 21 other African and Latin American countries show stagnant growth.  The numbers were not back of the envelope but based on data analyzing information on 365000 adult women in 54 poor and middle-income countries (which is another issue as well!)  by the Demographic and Health Surveys reported in the online journal PLoS One. Rich women have gained a ½ inch on average over poor women.  Women in the poorest 20% averaged 5 feet 1 inches tall regardless of their age.  Guatemala and Honduras, great countries just south of the United States well known to North American tourists had the largest gaps in height between rich and poor women.

There are no piecemeal solutions.  There is an economic and environmental crisis in the community of the poor and the facts just keep getting harder to ignore, especially when one group of people are permanently able to look down on another group of people, solely because of their income.