How to end poverty, instead of paying lip service

When I ran for Mayor back in 1993, I had two interlinked ideas on helping Daytonians break the cycle of poverty, one was said directly, the other tacitly: provide subsidized, 24 hour daycare as an incentive to live and work in the city, and the tacit part- this will help create a great environment for kids to get a Head Start experience and prep them for school.

You can see those campaign  materias here: http://www.esrati.com/mission/Archive.htm

I was written off by the Dayton Daily News as an ad man with nothing much to say back then.

In today’s Dayton Daily News, a new test shows Dayton leads the way in unprepared kids for kindergarten, hmmmm, sound familiar?

Incoming students in Dayton need help
DAYTON — A new statewide test designed to check if kids are ready to start school shows many in the greater Miami Valley will need help to succeed in kindergarten.

A Dayton Daily News study of the data shows a strong link between kindergarten readiness and overall district test performance — the better prepared a community’s incoming kindergarteners are the more likely that district will rate high on its state report card.

Consider Oakwood, consistently among the highest rated area districts. Just 2.7 percent of 147 Oakwood’s 2006 incoming kindergarteners scored low enough to require intervention.

Meanwhile in Dayton, one of the state’s worst-rated districts, 40 percent need immediate intervention, the test showed. That’s among the highest percentages in Ohio. And none of those children had set foot in a district school when they were assessed.

Oakwood is one of Ohio’s wealthiest districts while Dayton is among the poorest. The Daily News study of Ohio corroborated other research showing strong links among income, kindergarten readiness and test performance.

This is one of my core issues that I deeply believe in. I look at tax dollars spent on education as tax dollars well invested. It’s part of my Taxes are Good*™  campaign platform of which you’ll hear more about.  It’s simple economics, or as you’ll also hear from me Because Money Matters™ I believe it’s in our best interests to invest in things that pay back over the long term instead of, well, stuff that doesn’t.

Every dollar spent on education helps us reduce the welfare rolls and prison population and pays back by providing us a better workforce of which we can reap more taxes. When taxes are well invested instead of spent unwisely, we get the Government we think we want, instead of the one that’s bought.

The real problem, is we need to educate our “best and brightest” in Washington that paying for education is smarter than letting the system let a CEO “earn” multi-millions in a year while his company loses money and he lays off people, who end up costing the Government either in unemployment or lost taxes from lost wages.

The moral of the story: we have to educate the rich people about how taking care of poor people is a more cost efficient proposition when the poor are able to do for themselves.

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19 Responses

  1. John Ise December 17, 2007 / 10:57 am
    Kudos David and good luck on the3 campaign. Almost nothing is a better investment than developing high-quality and acadmenically enriched early education/Pre-K programs (get away from the term “day care”, sounds like baby-sitting) in that the dividends later in life are profound and science backed. For more, go to: http://www.prospect.org/cs/archive/view_report?reportId=45
  2. Ameya December 17, 2007 / 11:54 am
    It’s a goode idea, and would make a difference, of course, but I wish there was some way to teach all these parents how to parent! Kids do poorly going into kindergarden because their parents never bother to read to them, show them how to read (Reading was very important to my family, so i could read by age 3), or teach them how to do anything. Parents now just depend on nikelodeon and the school systems, it’s so sad. :(. Is there any way to require welfare (not that their the only ones who need it..) parents to take a free parenting class or two, as sort of a condition on continuing to recieve welfare? I’m sure there would be groups who could donate this service for for free, say once a month or so. I know that it wouldn’t help everyone, but maybe it can sort of make people start noticing that they have certain responsibilities as parents, other than feeding and clothing.

    just a thought!

    anyway, David, have you yet harnessed the potential of myspace and facebook? Please do. I know facebook now has “pages” instead of the normal profiles (they can be found under businesses at the bottom of the page) that politians sign up for and then people can “fan” them, and share their profiles, etc. with the majority of the young population on them, and a growing number of the older population, you may reach groups that wouldn’t have known about you or bothered to vote otherwise. I run the pages for Wright State’s UAB (and have my presidiental candidate of choice friended on both pages, which has definately gotten me more pumped for their campaign) so i know that it is useful.

    And I’d be happy to help in any way if you need it :)

  3. David Esrati December 17, 2007 / 12:02 pm

    Hi Ameya,
    I’ll need someone to work both MySpace and Facebook. I have a Facebook profile- but, I prefer to work on sites I own… so- you may have volunteered yourself into a job.
    As to Parenting courses- that’s part of the daycare program- a community of learners.

  4. Juan December 17, 2007 / 8:00 pm
    David,

    While I would agree that a well education populace will help to bring an end to poverty, more money is not necessarily the answer for Dayton Schools. If you look at the spending per student for the 05-06 school year, Dayton spends $13,645 per student while Oakwood spends “only” $9739. My meager public shool education tells me that means that DPS is spending $3906 per student MORE than Oakwood yet they are getting miserable results. Why is that?

    Could it be that parents in Oakwood value an education more and therefore encourage their kids? Could it be that Oakwood has programs such as “Destination Imagination” that encourage creative thinking where Dayton does not? (BTW, DI is coached by parent volunteers that give up a LOT of time for no tax credits) Could it be that Oakwood schools have good discipline programs in place (backed up by the parents) while DPS discipline is questionable? I don’t know the answers – I’m just a simple guy that wastes times responding to stuff on blogs. But I do know that the answer is not to “educate the rich people about taking care of poor people.” Quite frankly, from what I’ve seen, the rich already are taking care of a lot of poor people.

    With regards to subsidized daycare – it already exisits. It’s either “Title XX” or “Title IX”. When I was on the “parent’s board of advisors” when my kids were in daycare, I know that a lot of the kids in this privately owned, for profit daycare were receiving this assistance. Even though I qualified for that program, I declined the assistance and just worked a bit harder so I didn’t qualify for it for very long. It warmed my heart to see the single mom working at McD’s getting help as she struggled to put her life on track with her little girl. On the other hand, it irritated the shit out of me when another single mom (with 4 kids and 3 different sperm donars) complained that receiving Title XX assistance required her to have a part time job since she was working on her MASTERS DEGREE AT TAXPAYERS EXPENSE, but that she didn’t have to work while finishing her bachelor’s. No, I’m not making this stuff up.

    So, back to my original point….Wealth envy and additional taxes on the evil rich aren’t the answers to bad public education. The answer begins with the parents.

  5. Juan December 17, 2007 / 8:05 pm
    LOL – I should try and proofread my submissions before I hit that damned “Submit” button….

    I meant to say “a well EDUCATED populace”, not “a well education populace.” Well, what do you expect from my meager public education?

  6. David Esrati December 17, 2007 / 8:08 pm

    Juan, I’m sure that licensing parents is the right solution. But somehow, that isn’t going to fly with the “personal freedom” part that we so love in the United States (unless of course you are a “terrorist suspect”).
    Of course, it starts with the parents. That’s why “Abstinence Education” has to go, as do limits on birth control accessibility. And, hopefully, if the kids are too busy with sports, they won’t be busy making babies.
    Comparing how much is spent in Oakwood vs Dayton is pretty lame. We’re not talking about a similar pool. How about we stop segregating kids economically- and send some poor kids to Oakwood and see how they do?

  7. Juan December 17, 2007 / 11:05 pm
    Geez David, you sure like to put words in people’s mouths, don’t you? Where in my post did I say, or imply, that parents should be licensed?

    As far as your comment about comparing spending amounts between Oakwood and Dayton being lame…Why is it lame? You have said in several posts since I’ve started reading your blogs that more money needs to be spent on DPS. A week or so ago you came up with the brilliant idea of taxing the suburbs to fund DPS since it was their fault, by moving out of the City, that DPS was in such bad shape. So, how much is enough for DPS?

  8. David Esrati December 17, 2007 / 11:15 pm

    Juan, How about this- we diversify DPS by having a county wide district. When Oakwood and Dayton school systems reflect the general makeup (racial and socio-economic) of the region- we can spend the same.

  9. gene December 18, 2007 / 8:30 am
    Oakwood is it’s own city…….. Why do we need a “makeup” of the region – why is not the makeup of Oakwood good for Oakwood? They are their own people, just like Kettering or Beavercreek, reflective of themselves, not reflective of something they are not, and the makeup of Oakwood is Oakwood kids. If you are purple and want to move to Oakwood, go for it. Why does every school need to have a general makeup of the region? and where does the region end? County? why not the state? why not the Whole USA? it would never end. And, if you want the MAKEUP clause in effect, why are the people in power for DPS and CityofDayton NOT reflective of the region? AHhhh, maybe because people VOTED them into power?

    We spend more on DPS bc we have leaders who are losers. Oakwood has a conscience, DPS does not. They say they care, but they can’t get the kids to learn. The parents of many DPS kids don’t care either. Oakwood parents just care more. I know a lot of Oakwood kids who are not rich, but their parents cared. IT IS THAT SIMPLE.

  10. J.R. Locke December 18, 2007 / 11:54 am
    I have to agree with Juan and his point on the financial matters of the DPS. It is going to be up to the students and parents to educate themselves. The way we view education(and to a large degree financial information) is so skewed that this issue is far from solvable until we change our societal view of the value of education.

    Many of the leaders in this country eschew education and intellectualism. Which means students must find their professional future in a small number of fields in order to be “successful.” The kids in Oakwood will grow to be mid level managers, engineers and various other cogs, while kids from DPS will become the fast food workers of America. Either way success should not be defined by the occupation their education produces.

    Their success in life should be defined by the way they will treat their fellow citizens not because they are better workers or they have better jobs.

    “we have to educate the rich people about how taking care of poor people is a more cost efficient proposition when the poor are able to do for themselves.”

    Well Mr. Esrati we have to educate people to understand which people are rich and which people are poor first! I know most folks making six figures still consider themselves middle class. I know families that make $50,000 a year think they are poor.

  11. gene December 18, 2007 / 12:20 pm
    So if I make $150k/yr I am NOT middle class? I don’t know – I really don’t – what is the “cut off” point for the middle class. Is salary the defining point in this or overall wealth or debt/income ratio?

    Education is important, but I often find the biggest difference between the have and the have nots is not education – it is work ethic. I’ll bet 80% of people who “work hard” (I KNOW THIS WOULD BE HARD TO DETERMINE) are somewhat “successful,” (NOT NECCESSARILY RICH) be it at a fast food place or an mid level computer geek. Most people don’t FALL into great jobs – they just don’t – and if someone does fall into a great job (ie taking over Daddy’s company) they usually get their ass kicked by said dad, and have to work their tail off just to make dad happy.

    And most lazy people are most often ( i’ll say 90%) the people who always go job to job, if they even have a job, and really never get anywhere in life. Not all are poor, but some are poor, and some are rich (meet some of Esrati’s Oakwood Buddies)

    I think DPS parents do not instill drive and competition in their kids as often as Oakwood parents do, in reference to education that is…….

    And if you make $50k/year you are kind of poor – if you have 9 kids and a lot of debt – these people do exist – or even 4 kids with a lot of debt. POOR is more ratio than anything else.

  12. Gary December 18, 2007 / 11:25 pm
    Let me chime in here and point out something that may not be well known. Dayton has a higher number of special needs students than many surrounding communities that, regardless of their handicap, have a right to a public education. Some of these children cost more than $100,000 a year to “educate” and will never “graduate” but they deserve the same attention as an A student. This drives up the cost per child statistics for DPS. That being said, a private school is paid about $6000 per student (some less, some more) and a home schooling family can educate better for even less. Attention and mentoring is the real key. If DPS will open their arms to homeschoolers and virtual academy students for the arts and sports programs that they are cutting due to budget, they will find the mentors and the educators that they need free of charge in the form of educated homeschooling parents that care. If they offer such a program to people who live within the DPS district it may actually entice educated and/or responsible people to move into the district. They may actually get some students out of the process. Right now DPS is doing nothing to encourage educated parents to move to Dayton. If the city of Dayton would offer an income tax credit to homeschoolers who allow their children to be tested by DPS and they meet or exceed the states standard for testing, it would be an incentive for educated people to live in Dayton. If we can dilute the population of the city with educated and/or responsible people it will attract more educated and responsible people and fill a lot of empty houses in the city. Some problems may even start to go away as a result.
  13. Jeff December 19, 2007 / 7:10 am
    I’m quite familiar with the countywide school system idea as that is how they do it in Kentucky. Outside of Northern Kentucky (which models itsef after Ohio to some extent) public education in Kentucky is done via county system, or there is a county system and a city sytem. For example, Barren County might have a Barren County district and a Glasgow (the county seat) City district.

    In the case of the two largest metro areas in Kentucky, Lexington and Lousville, there are countywide districts with no suburban district (well, there is one very small suburban district for Anchorage, a horsey suburb of Louisville). In the case of Louisville there was a City of Lousville district and Jefferson County (suburban) district until the mid 1970s.

    Getting to a countywide district for Louisville/Jefferson County is a reason this will never happen here.

    The story was that the Louisville City district went bankrupt and it took a court order to force merger with the city and county district. It took another court order to force racial integration (via bussing).

    The results of these court orders were big riots in suburban areas, requiring the involvement of the KY National Gaurd (something I was involved in…thats another story).

    Thought the schools did remain somewhat integrated for awhile in the late 1970s, white flight did take its toll, and now, for Jefferson County (Louisville & most of the suburbs), for the white K-12 school age population, around 30% attend private schools, even when the white % of the public school population is between 60%-70%. A substantial amount of white folks have just pulled out of the public system.

    One sees the same situation in Dayton City, with about 30% of the white K-12 population in private schools (though the white % of that district is down around 30%, just the reverse of Louisville/Jefferson County).

    So, if there is a mergerd county district in Dayton/Montgomery County one can anticipate the same level of withdrawl. In fact there already is a substantial withdrawl of white shool-age kids from certain suburban school districts: 20% of white school aged kids in Kettering attend private schools. In Huber Heights its somewhere between 10% and 20%, etc.

    @@@

    This being said, a positive thing about merged districts and racial integration in Louisville is that this didn’t contribute to white flight in the City of Louisville during the 1970s & 80s. This is one reason why Louisville retained middle class and even upper middle class neighborhoods in the older parts of the city, while Dayton has turned into a (mostly) poor/minority bantustan. It also may account for why the neighborhood restoration/back-to-the-city movement has stalled here.

    Another benefit of merged schools, at least in this case, was that the district embarked on a magnet school program, so there are certain schools that have intensive programs in math, science, the arts, and there is a “traditional schools” program, too. Locally the example would be Stivers, but if Stivers was for all of Montgomery County.

    A coountywide school district also meant it was easier to accomplish the recent city-county merger

    But these really are not education benefits, and the negative aspect is that there has been a trend to resegration in the schools and white flight from the district, which one could expect here as well.

    One could also expect white flight from Montgomery County itself. There was a bit of this in Louisville, to surrounding countiess, but not to the extent that would be possible in Dayton due to lack of infrastructure and supporting real estate/homebuilders. In Dayton homebuys would move out to Warren, Greene, and Miami Counties in larger numbers than they do now, as the infrastructure and homebuilidng /real estate industry economy is in place to support such a flight. Montgomery County is losing population now, and this would accelerate if there was a merged system.

  14. Jeff December 19, 2007 / 8:01 am
    Anyway, the idea of a merged system or shared resources for Montgomery County schools is pretty hypothetical given political realities. I can see some things happening between districts on an ad-hoc basis, or for special purposes (like the JVS), but nothing like how it was done in KY.
  15. gene December 19, 2007 / 11:47 am
    Soooooooooooooooooooooooo…………………..

    How does one convince the City or Oakwood to join the trash heap DPS? Is it forced, or a really really good sales pitch by David Esrati?

    It is fun to dream…….. keeping it real might actually get Mr. Esrati elected. County wide will never happen.

    My good buddy once was B and M over how to “solve the countries problems.” The problems are easy to solve if you follow a system. In this case, get DPS parents involved. Start caring. Stop reproducing. During the fall “parents” night in DPS, a GRAND TOTAL OF 7 PARENTS SHOWED UP. They just don’t care, and their poor little snot nosed kids will grow up to be hobos and hookers, with few of the “getting out.” I want to help, and to solve this problem we must confront those who engage in sex. Stop touching each other already, and you may be better served and a “future kid” may be better served if you WAIT to have kids until you can afford them and just maybe you may want to include that OH SPECIAL SOMEONE in your life who you let shag you…… crazy thought. Or dump a bunch a money in their lap and call them victims.

  16. Marc December 20, 2007 / 8:48 am
    What a great conversation. Dave, I love your insight and your creativity when it comes to Dayton politics, but you are flat wrong on this issue. Ditto what Juan, Gene, and even (to a leser extent) Ameya have said above.

    The solution is not to forcibly redistribute wealth from responsible parents to irresponsible ones, or from efficient and successful school districts to a district that refuses to consider the best interests of its students. DPS does not need another infusion of cash. It needs fiscally responsible leadership that is more interested in helping kids than in feathering their own nests and satisfying the teachers union.

    And in a democracy, that only happens when voting parents decide that the education of their kids must take top — top! — priority in their own lives. If nearly half of Dayton’s kids are truly “behind” before they even get to kindergarten, that is an utter failure that starts with poor parenting — the same poor parenting that must take the blame for the failed school district.

    Distribution of resources is not the problem — as Juan points out, DPS spends much more *per student*, so he’s actually making an apples-to-apples comparison. If anything, one would expect DPS to have figured out economies of scale allowing it to spend more efficiently than a small district like Oakwood.

    Blaming “segregation” by economics and race is a convenient but inaccurate cop-out. You’re going to blame irresponsible conduct on “race”? That’s bolder politics than I was giving you credit for. Soft bigotry of low expectations indeed. The opportunities are there. With all respect, get your hand off of my wallet.

  17. gene December 21, 2007 / 11:53 am
    Yesterday I was listening to the Radio and a sports guy was commenting on Michael Vick, and he said something to the effect that the million dollars set aside to help out dogs should go to teach “young black boys” not to participate in dog fighting.

    I never did have THAT talk with my dad, you know, the one that tells me that dog fighting is bad. It was like magic – I just kind of knew it was bad.

    ABOVE is the problem – the “educate” bc the dads are not around……. stop having kids – start working – stop smoking crack – start living life better.

    But if we spend more money and this and that and f*ck and s*it and la de dah and up and down – OR – we tell everyone to STOP HAVING KIDS UNTIL THEY HAVE A SOLID JOB AND GRADUATE FROM HIGH SCHOOL.

    but we dont want to hurt anyone feelings – no, we rather watch kids killing kids, kids killing dogs, kids doing drugs, kids hurting themselves because WE dont have enough balls to tell people the truth. Band aid it all you want, but if and when we solve the “KID” problem all the other problems start going away – crime, education, poverty, etc.

    but again we dont want to hurt the poor feelings of the poor……. we rather watch tem kill themselves than tell them the truth……….

  18. J.R. Locke December 22, 2007 / 5:39 pm
    Jeff good information about Louisville. Thanks.

    Does anyone feel that what we teach in America about the American Dream creates a system where everyone feels they haven’t been successful enough? Is that why all these rich people (yes I am talking about all those in the middle class) are so damn depressed fearful and vengeful of proposals to help educate and eliminate those in a lesser state than them? Even when, like Mr. Esrati said, it is in everyones best interest.

  19. gene December 22, 2007 / 7:22 pm
    Helping “those in a lesser state than them” is important, and what we all want to do. I just think we should, among other things, teach them NOT TO HAVE KIDS UNTIL THEY ARE FINACIALLY AND EMOTIONALLY READY – while most of you think hand holding works. I am just sick of seeing poor kids kill and be killed because our politicians are pussies and won’t/can’t/are afraid to hurt someone feelings.

    We all want to help, it is just how we do it – I say start with my “NO KIDS UNTIL READY” will solve a lot of problems associated with poverty, education, drugs, crime, etc…..

    But again, we are too scared to tell the truth – death and poverty are easier to stomach than embarrassment and truth.

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