U S Welfare and Financial Situation Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

In this case there are differences due to the income level of the person who is replying.

The Americans who are making more than $34,000 a year generally say that the persons getting aid from welfare could manage their own lives without help from the government if they really tried, while the replies from the lower income groups feel that they could not manage. This continues on in the opinion of the comparatively richer group to say that the people getting poverty assistance could manage without assistance as they get the assistance without having to do anything for it. This continues on with persons having little knowledge of the changes in law that has come up. Only half the respondents were aware of the changes in the law. However of the persons who are aware of the changes in the law 61% think that the new law is working well, and the most important reason for it is felt to be the requirement for people to be working to get any assistance from the changed law. This shows the value that is attached to work by Americans in general. (Poverty in America)

It is clear that people want the government to help people who are helping themselves. This is reflected in the huge support that is given to increasing programs for training people for jobs of 94%, increasing tax credits for low- income workers which were 80%, increasing the programs for day care with subsidies which was 85%, and subsidizing housing was about 75%. It is not felt by the majority of Americans that the poor do not work, 60% think that they work. This view has been increasing and the corresponding figure in 1994 was only 49%. This is also reflected in the opinions given by people from the low income group, and they say that 65% of them work. Of course the persons whose views have been taken here exclude the students and retirees. This is also reflected in the views of 69% of Americans who say that there are jobs for any person who is ready to work. At the same time, they also know that the job is not very good, when the incomes are low.

This results in almost three-fifths of poor Americans expressing the opinion that they can only get jobs which will not support a family. The problem of poverty is more in Blacks than whites as 72% of the Blacks have the problem of poverty while only 52% of the Whites have the problem. The same sort of opinion biases due to color extends on to saying poor people have hard lives from about 59% to 39%; outside circumstances are the main reason for poverty which constituted 57% to 44%; the government could eliminate poverty if it wanted to from 67% to 40%; it is harder today to get out of poverty than it was to get out of poverty ten years ago which was 58% to 48% and even the insistence that recipients of welfare also desire to work. (Poverty in America)

Let us now try to relate economic position to literacy achievement of the students as that will give us a clear idea as to the effects of poverty on a long-term basis. For this purpose let us refer to a study done by Rand Corporation and they have found that the most important factors related to educational achievements of children are not race, ethnicity or immigrant status, but are more likely to be socioeconomic conditions. The socioeconomic factors include parental education, neighborhood poverty, parental occupation status and family income. For the purpose of their study they looked at two groups of students in United States and one was a local sample and the other was a national high school sample. The study was conducted in 65 neighborhoods of Los Angeles and there the most important factors that could be directly related were the educational achievements of mothers and neighborhood poverty. (Educational Achievement Reflects Family Background More Than Ethnicity or Immigration)

The study in the national sample was for achievements in mathematics, and there it showed that improvement in socioeconomic conditions among blacks and Latinos have led to a decrease in the gaps in test scores for mathematics between the whites and blacks as also between the whites and Latinos. According to their findings, education policy for disadvantaged children should not be left as the current education policy. This is reflected in the objectives of the current federal policy of 'No Child Left behind Act'. The aim of this act is to reduce the gaps between students who come from different races and ethnicities. It is clear from this study that the most important factor in benefiting students from racial and ethnic minorities will take place when there is greater emphasis on socioeconomic factors than on racial and ethnic differences. When there are just education policies they will not lead to much success.

From the period of preschool to the end of high school the policies for education have to be coordinated with family and welfare policies. There is a common term of 'school readiness and that are expected to mean that the concerned children have got the social, mental and physical skills that they have to possess before they star school. To help in achievement of these qualities and other requirements many schools have programs like school readiness, parenting classes, early childhood intervention programs, public library reading programs, early childhood enrichment programs etc. Their total effect on children is not very well-known, but when programs are started to help poor children become ready for school, they are useful. The total sample in this study was 3,010 households in Los Angeles, and for the purpose of the test a standard math and reading test was given to the children and a reading test to the mothers. (Educational Achievement Reflects Family Background More Than Ethnicity or Immigration)

There was also a judgment of the literary environment in the home through the check up on availability of children's books at home, time spent on reading to children, visits to libraries and the amount of television watched by the children. The behaviors of parents were judged through the disciplinary actions taken by parents and the warmth that the parents have for children. It was seen that most white households had books, reading to the children was a common practice, and visited the library. The problem came up in the poorer neighborhoods and when the mothers had not completed high school that these activities were neglected. The situation of the Latino children seemed to be the worst. They did not have books at home, were not read to and do not use the library. The children who are read to and visit the library had higher scores in reading and mathematics as compared to others. The importance of behavior of parents in terms of discipline and warmth showed up with less behavioral problems for the children. Thus it is clear that programs which improve home literacy environment and skills of parents also improve the adaptation of children to school, and this is true even for children from disadvantaged families and neighborhoods.

For mothers who had a less than high school education, the reflection was in 30% of the students having low scores in reading, and 40% scored low in math. When the mothers had completed college, then the students scored between middle and high in reading, and 90% scored high or middle in math. The results clearly tell us that poorly educated mothers place their children at a disadvantage, and should be prepared for school readiness programs. The link between the education of the mothers and the children in terms of education is in that the mothers understand the importance of the children learning the basic skills early and not due to their own educational capacities. These mothers also probably know the process of learning and thus able to help the children in their learning process. (Educational Achievement Reflects Family Background More Than Ethnicity or Immigration)

The problem is also reflected in the children of Latinos, African-American and immigrant parents, as their scores were also low in reading and math compared to other children. The differences would have been normally attributed to ethnicity or immigrant status, but the study found that the difference came from socioeconomic status in general and mother's education in particular. It was seen that when the children's parents were born outside United States, they end up doing better than children of parents whose parents were born in United States, after taking into account the socioeconomic factors including mother's education. There is a great importance of this finding as the programs of making children ready for school should concentrate on the education of mothers than on ethnicity of the mothers. Regarding the question of neighborhood poverty it is important for giving an idea about the behavior…

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