Thursday, March 23, 2017

March Madness: Poor Children As Casualties Of Trump’s Budget Wars

March Madness: Poor Children As Casualties Of Trump’s Budget Wars:

March Madness: Poor Children As Casualties Of Trump’s Budget Wars

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Who would have ever thought that the term March Madness referred to more than just a basketball tournament? With the Trump Administration, however, madness is second nature, regardless of the month on the calendar.
Last week, we found out that March Madness also refers to the Trump budget process and the cruel, vindictive, and mean-spirited nature of the people who are at war with the sick, the poor, the elderly, and kids. All of these constituencies deserve advocacy as they are caught in the ruthless tactics of the unfeeling budget cutters. Please understand, however, that as an educator, I must first put my passion and energy to illuminate the harm this perverted form of March Madness has inflicted on young people.
Sure, the Washington Post headline Trump budget casualty: After-school programs for 1.6 million kids. Most are poor got the attention of many readers. But it was this cartoon by the great Mike Luckovich that jolted me and others into the realization that what we are up against is the Trump War on Kids, and the first casualty in his drawing are the after-school programs that otherwise assist young learners.

Certainly, Big Bird and PBS are in the mix as well, but in particular, it is the program called 21st Century Community Learning Centers that seems to be in the crosshairs of Mick  Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and his fellow ideologues who intend to kill or starve domestic programs to feed the military, as the cartoon amply demonstrates.
At this point, it is only proper for me to disclose the reasons for my intense interest in this program.
In 2002, I received a call from the U.S. Department of Education inquiring about my availability to serve as a panel chair to direct the reading and scoring of federal grants for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, a program I was not familiar with at the time. (To this day, I don’t know how someone in Washington got my name or curriculum vitae that prompted the call.)
After receiving some additional information about the 21st Century program and my responsibilities to the Department, I agreed to fly to Chicago and work over a weekend in May with an impressive panel of 15 people from around the country. As it turned out, the work was grueling in that every grant had to be read by multiple readers, scored, and discussed. If the range of the scoring showed wide variance, there was additional reading and discussion so that the scoring reflected a clearer result.
Therein lies the rest of the story. Since I had overall responsibility for one of the panels, I wound up reading about 50 applications, all thick with detail to justify the need for the program in a particular community.
What I read was deeply moving, and that experience remains with me to this March Madness: Poor Children As Casualties Of Trump’s Budget Wars:

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