Category — Huffington Post
In the United States, one in five children live in a household with not enough food to eat. Feeding America reports that 15.9 million kids under the age of 18 live in this condition where they are unable to consistently access nutritious and adequate amounts of food necessary for a healthy life. Last month Congress passed a sweeping that cut an additional $8.6 billion from food stamps (SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) over the next 10 years. This is on top of the $5 billion the program lost last November because the 2009 Recovery Act stimulus bill expired. Forty-seven million Americans currently participate in SNAP, up 47 percent since the Great Recession started in 2008. This means that 15 percent of us rely on this program to eat. Last year the US spent $78 billion on the SNAP program.
We don’t have to be math whizzes to know that a 47 percent increase in participation coupled with a reduction in the funding of $13.6 billion spells misery for millions of Americans. This program has been the federal social safety net for low-income Americans and now this safety net is beginning to tear.
The New York Times reports that more and more people are beginning to show up at soup kitchens and food pantries. The first reduction in November cut out 23 meals per month for a family of four. In New York City, the number of people seeking food aid grew by 85 percent after the November cuts while 23 percent of the city’s food pantries and soup kitchens reduced the number of meals they provided. Food stamps were the signature program of President Johnson’s War on Poverty during the 1960s which led to fewer poor children going hungry or having nutrition related developmental delays. Birth weights also grew for children of poor mothers on food stamps. As a nation, we can’t afford to go back to the nutritional standards before the War on Poverty.
Luckily for us, our nonprofit organizations are stepping in and have created food banks to help fill the void continually shaped by Congress. The world’s first food bank started in 1967, right after the War on Poverty began. St. Mary’s Food Bank was started by John Van Hengel who was volunteering at St. Vincent DePaul in Phoenix, Arizona, serving dinners to those in need. A mother told him the soup kitchens and grocery store dumpsters were the only way she could feed her children. John went to the local parish, St. Mary’s Basilica and shared his vision of collecting food and money for food and depositing it where those in need could withdraw it. They gave John $3,000 and an abandoned building to get the food bank up and running. Today food banks touch just about every corner of the USA.
For example, Ozarks Food Harvest, one of the Feeding America food banks in Springfield, MO, distributes food to 320 hunger relief organizations across 29 Missouri counties reaching 41,000 people a month. To help hungry children, they have a weekend backpack program, where they fill 1,500 backpacks with food so these underprivileged kids can have something to eat when they can’t eat at school. How can you not love an organization that takes care of others every day of the week!
The State of Kentucky is setting an example for the rest of government in how to encourage its citizens to help others. Its legislature has made it easier for Kentuckians to donate to the Farms to Food Banks Program by just checking a box on their state tax returns to have part of their tax refunds to automatically go to this program which brings farm food directly into the food banks. This is how the government should behave in inspiring it citizenship to help each other.
Once again, we as individuals must step in to fill the gap recently created by our Congress. If you can’t devote your time, start by helping with cash to donate for food to our food banks. Here is a link to all the Feeding America Food Banks in your area. Here is a link to helping Meals On Wheels, which brings together 5,000 local nutritional programs for seniors and deliver over 1 million meals a day. And at DollarDays on our Facebook page, we are giving away $5,000 in food and products to local food banks, so make sure you nominate the one in your town.
General Motors Foundation last month donated $500,000 to the Capuchin Soup Kitchen serving the people of metro Detroit. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Florida recently donated $250,000 to the Florida Association of Food Banks. The Alaska Federal Credit Union donated money to 17 food banks. Businesses with a conscience are beginning to step up to fill this massive void, but so far there is too big a gap to fill. We have got to make up the billions of dollars lost to support those in the most need in this new order of priorities created by Congress. We as citizens of this fine country need to create a new grass roots effort for this latest War on Poverty. Having 47 million Americans in need of food is not the country our forefathers envisioned. It is also not the country we want to leave to our children.
March 4, 2014 No Comments
by Marc Joseph, CEO of DollarDays; reprinted from The Huffington Post
The compromise spending bill for $1.1 trillion keeps the government open through September, according to CNN. It increases funding to Head Start by $1 billion for early childhood education which makes sense after its recent low point with the forced budget cuts last year. It increases the paychecks of federal workers and military personnel by one percent. It reduces funding to the IRS and Environmental Protection Agency. It launches policies at getting more low-risk passengers through security quicker at airports. So it has a little bit in it for just about everyone. But once again, Congress is kicking the can down the road because we are going to have this same contentious conversation next fall when this extension expires.
The New York Times broke down the cost of this new budget per each US resident: $259 goes to food stamps now known as SNAP, $61 goes to the child school lunch program, $30 goes for crop insurance and $40 to loans and direct payments to farmers, $2,672 covers Social Security and $1,591 for Medicare, $26 goes to the FBI and $22 to the Federal prison system.
These budget impasses remind me of the movie “Groundhog Day,” where we wake up and repeat the same mistake month after month, year after year. There has got to be some innovative thinkers outside and inside of government that can get us out of this rut of repeating the same mistakes over and over again.
One big idea is coming from Ron Unz according to USA Today. Mr. Unz is a Silicon Valley multimillionaire and registered Republican, who is pushing a California proposal to boost the minimum pay rate to $12 an hour. Unz believes that taxpayers, for too long, have been subsidizing low wages since the government pays for food stamps and other programs these workers utilize. He feels raising the minimum wage to $12 would lift millions of people out of poverty, driving up income and sales tax revenue; at the same time saving taxpayers billions of dollars, since these workers would no longer qualify for many of the welfare benefits.
Another big idea came out of Chicago under the leadership of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. He created the small business center in City Hall last spring to streamline small business services. The city has reduced the number of business licenses from 117 to 49, which has saved small businesses $700,000 in just the last 6 months. Chicago is phasing out the Head Tax which saved small businesses $4.8 million in 2013. This is just an example of how cities can cut through the red tape to not only make its citizens’ lives easier, but to actually save money.
TOMS is a for profit company that whenever it sells a pair of its shoes, another pair of shoes is given to an impoverished child. Additionally, when TOMS sells a pair of eyewear, part of the profit goes to help restoring sight in those who need help, and according to their site, “helping to restore sight restores independence, economic potential and educational opportunity.” They have taken the “giving back” theory a step further and last fall launched TOMS Marketplace , that gives socially conscious suppliers a platform to sell products that help support causes ranging from education and health to nutrition and clean water.
Most organizations don’t have the resources like the city of Chicago or TOMS to help make a major impact in changing our country or making our Federal Budget a non-issue. The largest charity in the US is the United Way which is a network of 1,800 United Way communities and manages $4.26 billion. They “envision a world where all individuals and families achieve their human potential through education, income stability and healthy lives.” The second largest is the Salvation Army, that manages $4.08 billion to carry out their mission of “to feed, to clothe, to comfort and to care.” These budgets seem small compared to the $1.1 trillion Federal Budget, yet they do take some pressure off the government in taking care of everything the underprivileged need. I guess it is up to all of us to do our best to relieve some of this pressure. At DollarDays on our Facebookpage, we are giving away hundreds of flip flops (the TOMS model inspired us) to organizations who help kids in need, so make sure you nominate a worthy organization.
Sometimes I think we put too much faith in our government that they will take care of pushing our economy forward as well as taking care of those most in need. Gallup Poll just reported that just 13% of Americans approve the job Congress is doing. If that was the approval rating in any other part of our society, they would all be gone. This is the group we must rely on next fall to permanently fix our day to day operations of our government. Based on their recent history, I am skeptical this will happen. That is why the rest of us have to step up with the “big ideas” to make our civilization work with or without our government’s support.
February 6, 2014 No Comments
The weather this past December not only played havoc on retail sales, but ruined many holiday celebrations by causing electrical outages, undelivered packages and relatives unable to travel to be with family. CBN news reports that December brought the coldest weather some areas have seen in decades. I don’t think global warming was a factor this December. In fact this year a reading of 135.8 degrees below zero was measured in Antarctica, which is the lowest temperature ever recorded on earth, so even though the cold ruined the holidays for many retailers and families, in comparison to other places on earth, the USA made it through—but wait until January which is set to look much like December’s weather.
With this extreme weather we are having, I just can’t imagine what it would be like to be homeless during this time. USA Today reported on a financial advisor, Isaac Simon, who on Tuesday evenings for the last six years in Manhattan, packs his white van with soup, bagels, milk and oranges and drives into areas where the homeless gather. He also has clothes to help those less fortunate. When you think that New York City, one of the wealthiest cities in the world, has a census in their homeless shelters of 51,000 which happens to be the entire population of Charleston, the capital of West Virginia, you know America has a problem that we can’t just sweep under the rug. With that many people in need, we need hundreds of Isaac Simons to help just in Manhattan alone.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the US Conference of Mayors survey of 25 large and midsize cities indicates that homelessness and hunger have increased and are expected to continue to rise in 2014. The poverty rate in the US of 15% is still near the Great Recession’s high of 15.1%. In Los Angeles, 20,000 people sleep on the streets every night and 2,000 of them are families or children living on their own. Homelessness has increased by 26% in LA since last year. Chicago reported an 11.4% increase in the number of homeless families since last year. This survey also reported that 21% of people needing emergency food assistance could not get help.
In my city of Phoenix, nonprofit organizations and government are acutely aware of the issues facing the poor. We have St. Vincent De Paul serving over 3,600 meals a day to the homeless and families in need. We have the city helping homeless vets to find places to live off the streets. Two years ago, the city identified 222 chronically homeless veterans, of which more than half served in Vietnam. Our mayor, Greg Stanton announced right before Christmas that the final 56 veterans were placed in housing. This happened because the city council allocated an additional $100,000 in November to accelerate the efforts to help homeless vets.
President Obama’s administration has pledged to eliminate homelessness among veterans by the end of 2015, but it looks like time is running short unless cities and states get involved like Phoenix has. The Washington Post talks about the state of Massachusetts and the Department of Veteran Affairs have put aside dollars to hire veterans, some formerly homeless themselves, to help get veterans off the streets in Boston. They spend one day a week roaming the city’s storefronts, alleys and shelters seeking out these homeless veterans. The rest of the week is spent making sure those put into housing stay the course.
Now that the holidays are over, we as a society begin to focus back on our own needs in January. Whether it is finding a gym to get back in shape, or a diet to lose the holiday pounds, our attention naturally shifts away from those who need our help 365 days a year. Homelessness is not just the responsibility of our government; it is all of our communal responsibility whether it is in the dead of winter or the heat of summer. Obviously volunteering is the best way to get involved, but if you don’t have the gumption of Isaac Simon or the political prowess of Mayor Stanton, then helping out with donated money is a high priority. There are several organizations to support. The National Homeless Coalition, The Salvation Army and The Gospel Rescue Mission all make homelessness their priorities. And at DollarDays on our Facebook page, we are giving away blankets to help those in need, so make sure you nominate a worthy organization.
Maybe what we should all do is what the Lakewood Congregational Church Youth Foundation in northern Ohio does and has been doing for years. On a night in January, they sleep in cardboard boxes outside in the bitter cold and spend the evening seeking donations from community member passing by to help less fortunate families. If that does not wake up the younger generation to the needs of the homeless, then nothing will. Can you imagine if in every city in every state, we all give up the comforts of our homes for one night to experience the immorality of homelessness, what that would do for the psyche of America? I am sure that if we addressed this issue on a grass roots level and all woke up the next morning freezing cold and hungry, our ineffective congress would hear our collective voices saying enough is enough, and Congress would reverse the recent cuts in food stamps, show compassion with the new congressional budget deal and help those who need unemployment benefits. Wouldn’t that be a way to start off 2014…
December 31, 2013 No Comments
Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and started in 2010 Small Business Saturday. November and December sales represent as much as 40% of yearly retail stores sales according to the National Retail Federation. Because Thanksgiving is falling so late in the calendar, there are six fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This squeeze in shopping days has not happened to retailers since 2002. On top of that, you have Chanukah falling on Thanksgiving which last happened in 1888 and won’t happen again during our lifetime. This leaves only 26 shopping days left to buy stuff and Chanukah in the rear view mirror, so you can’t count on those sales, either. Can small businesses, who many are teetering on survival with the lackluster retail year, that saw bumps along the way like sequestration and a 16 day government shutdown, actually survive into 2014?
Who are these small business owners that may not be around next year? One section is immigrants who since the beginning of America have been the backbone of small business retailers. In Europe for centuries there has been a merchant class that had a long history of selling products into established clientele. Many laws in Europe protect these small retailers against bigger competitors. In America, the desire to throw yourself whole heartedly into your business by putting in long hours and becoming a beacon where relatives follow you and work for you to have room and board, is part of the price of entry into retailing for many of our immigrants. Much like the family farm over the last 150 years on the American frontier, it has become the family store for the immigrant classes to start their life in the New World.
Another section of small business retailers who have emerged are entrepreneurs who are pursuing their dream. Some may have worked for big stores and felt they could do it better. Others may be following an idea they have been honing since they first started shopping. These entrepreneurs are disciplined and are focused on making their business work. These individuals are confident and don’t ask questions about whether they can succeed or are even worthy of success, because they know their business will succeed. They are open minded knowing that every situation is a business opportunity. These entrepreneurs are self-starters, knowing that if something needs to be done, they have the ability to start it themselves. They are competitive, knowing they can do it better than anyone else. They are creative and can make a connection between seemingly unrelated events. But most of all they are passionate and genuinely love the products they sell in their stores
We know we have to support small businesses. The government has an important division known as the US Small Business Administration. Retired successful business people know that our small businesses must survive so they have formed SCORE (service core of retired executives) whose mission is to mentor and grow small businesses across America, one business at a time. At DollarDays on our Facebook page, we are giving away $5,000 in products to small businesses across the country, so make sure you nominate your favorite local business.
Americans have tried to not forget about their neighbors running the small businesses in their towns. In 2012 when Small Business Saturday fell on November 24, $5.5 Billion was spent at small businesses. 100 Million People participated in Small Business Saturday last year, but obviously this number is surpassed by the 247 million who shopped on Black Friday. Retailers know that an increase in sales cures most problems and evidently a decrease in sales creates most problems. None of us want to see more and more of these small businesses going out of business. But unless all of us step up and buy locally rather than have these local dollars go to an unknown chain corporate office outside of our city, we will see more and more of our neighbors’ businesses disappear. Local retailers give a city its character. When you think America is the true melting pot of characters, we have to support small businesses.
December 2, 2013 No Comments
by Marc Joseph, reprinted from The Huffington Post
The partial government shutdown for 16 days caused some Americans to lose hope in our democratic way of life. If our elected officials can’t get along, what does that say about how the normal citizen can get along with their neighbors? If we can’t take care of ourselves and the basic functions of daily living, how can we even expect that we can take care of others?
Why is it acceptable to hurt so many people, most of who do not deserve it? Even though Congress postponed the inevitable with the recent passage of the funding of the government and raising the debt ceiling, both issues were just kicking the can down the road until January 15, 2014 for the budget and February 7, 2014 for the debt ceiling. Through all of this, the country forgot about the sequestration that started on March 1, 2013. As reported in the Washington Post, the impact of this sequester has become very harsh to those in our society in the most need. During this fiscal year, the effect on domestic programs is quite severe. Head Start will be cutting an additional 177,000 children from their program which helps young children from low-income families develop. President Johnson started this program as part of his War on Poverty back in 1965. Since then 30 million children have participated. In addition to the suffering we are inflicting on Head Start, 1.3 million fewer students will receive Title I education assistance, which distributes funding to schools with a high percentage of students from low-income families. This is another program that came out President Johnson’s War on Poverty and was renewed with President Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” Act in 2001. On top of all of this we are inflicting on our children, there will be 9,000 fewer special education staff in our classrooms and $291 million less for child-care subsidies for working families.
This no action on the sequestration not only affects kids, it is affecting other parts of our society. 760,000 fewer households will receive less heating and cooling assistance under the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. $2 billion less is being sent to the National Institutes of Health which corresponds with 1,300 fewer research grants. And it goes on and on with what we are not doing.
We are approaching another holiday season, but it sure does not feel too festive after living through these 16 days of dysfunction. But the spirit of America seems to be alive even though our leaders can’t get along. The boots on the ground Americans are rising above the fray in Washington D.C. to help those who need help. WGGB in Springfield, MA reports the “Coats for Kids” campaign has begun to collect gently used coats to help families in need. The Salvation Army has been doing this campaign to help those who need it most for 33 years. WKRC in Cincinnati reports how local law enforcement officers are getting child seats into the hands of those who cannot afford them so all children will be safer on the roads of Southwest Ohio. The Coshocton Tribune reports about the “Rags to Riches Clothing Drive” where Ridgewood Elementary has taken the lead in helping to collect clothes for the underprivileged children in their town in Ohio.
Helping others who are struggling is a core American value that in every town across America has to get stronger with the lack of leadership out of Washington. Volunteering is great, but we are at a point that people will not survive unless all of us step in to help financially. We have all seen an image of the Great Depression in the 1930′s where America looked like a third world country and none of us have the desire to see that again in 2014. Most communities have The Salvation Army and The United Way where you can donate locally. Nationally the Children’s Defense Fund and Kids in Distressed Situations help get the funds where they are most needed. And at DollarDays on our Facebook page, we are giving away $5,000 in products to families in need.
NBC reported that 950 miles west of Capitol Hill, Marion, Iowa mothers have stepped in to help low income mothers who depend on the federally funded nutrition program for women, infants and children (WIC). They are handing out baby food, formula and cereal to those who used to rely on the government to help them. This scene needs to repeat itself in every city and town across America. We have to take care of each other now, because with the current chaos in Washington, we can’t count on our government to take care of those most in need.
November 12, 2013 No Comments
By Marc Jospeh
reprinted from The Huffington Post
The effort in the recent Colorado floods shows our rescue missions for animals have come a long way since the pet loss disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans where people would not evacuate for fear of leaving their pets. CBS reported that some helicopters rescuing people in the Colorado flooding carried more dogs, cats and fish than people. Rescuers, using zip lines to evacuate people over the enlarged raging rivers, also risked their lives to make sure the animal members of the families were safe. The National Guard took the posture that including the pets in the rescue helped convince reluctant residents to leave their homes. Once the pets were on dry ground, the Red Cross shelters had water bowls, on-site kennels and other supplies so the already anxious evacuees would not have to be separated from their pets.
If we can rally around a disaster to ensure our four legged companions are safe, why can’t we do the same in our day in day out regular life? You have an ex-marine in Glennie, MI accused of torturing 5 dogs and 6 horses. In August we had the second largest dog fighting raid in US history affecting 372 dogs in Alabama, Mississippi, Texas and Georgia. These dogs ranged in age between a few days and 12 years old; and were left to suffer in life-threatening heat with no visible fresh water or food, while some were tethered by chains and cables to cinder blocks and car tires. And then you have an animal control officer in Long Island facing multiple charges because he had 850 snakes in his house and garage. When does our morality of the sacredness of kindness in life kick in?
There are success stories. In Monticello, KY, 80 dogs were rescued from a puppy mill. The Brown County Animal Center, near Cincinnati, was going to have to euthanize 8 dogs at the end of the week, so they started a campaign for adoptions and 10 dogs were adopted in time. But in all reality there are just not enough success stories to brag about.
The fourth quarter of the year is when we celebrate all kinds of holidays that reinforce our commitment to each other. We also should be taking care of the cats and dogs that are not as fortunate to have secure homes. We can help those suffering in Colorado from people to animals. Here is a link that lists many of the agencies and foundations responding to the flood victims. Also, Global Animal is taking donations to help rescue animals from the Colorado flooding. And if you actually want to volunteer to help all animals in all cities, The Humane Society has a wonderful program to join their animal rescue team where you can help save animals who are the victims of illegal animal cruelty and natural disasters. At DollarDays on our Facebook page, we are giving away $5,000 in products to animal shelters, so make sure you nominate your favorite shelter that can use our help.
In 2012 according to Statistic Brain, there were a little over 5,000 animal shelters in the USA. Five million animals entered these shelters and 3.5 million were euthanized. This affected 60% of the dogs and 70% of the cats. Fifteen percent of the dogs and 2% of the cats were returned to their owners. Taxpayers pay $2 Billion annually to round up, house and dispose of homeless animals. Sixty three percent of US homes have a companion animal, which is 70 million homes. All of these numbers are mind boggling. Yet, we only think about these poor victims when there is a flood in Colorado or a dog fighting raid in Alabama. Since the majority of us are pet owners and pet lovers, these blameless animals that need our help every day should be at the top of our minds. Helping to support animals in need is the core of our decency. These innocent animals give us much happiness; let’s do everything we can to eliminate their pain and suffering and get them into loving homes.
October 7, 2013 No Comments
According to the Census Bureau, there are 59 million people 25 years or older who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. Business continues to be the most popular major with 12 million grads, while Education was the second most popular, with 8 million. The median income for high school grads who never went to college is $28,659; for those with some college but no degree, it is $32,036; those with a college degree $49,648; and those with professional degrees $87,356. This translates to lifetime earnings of $3.3 million for a doctoral degree, $2.3 million for a college degree and $1.3 million for a high school diploma.
According to College Data, the average yearly budget to attend an in-state public university is $22,261. The average at a private college is $43,289. CNN reports that the average college student in the class of 2013 faces $35,200 in debt. Putting that into perspective, the profile of the average US household consumer debt shows we all owe $15,263 in credit card debt, $147,591 in mortgage debt and $31,646 in student loan debt. In total, American consumers owe $11.15 trillion in debt of which $994 billion is in student loans, a 4% increase from 2012.
In an article in The Huffington Post this summer, they predicted that student loan debt will exceed the median annual income for college grads by 2023. This is on top of the wages of college graduates actually dropping 5.4% over the last decade. Considering that Congress finally agreed this summer, after months of haggling, to stabilize the interest rate for college loans (which translates to roughly 3.86% for undergraduates and 5.42% for graduate student loans),at least the uncertainty of future interest hikes has been eliminated for families facing this huge debt.
Just about every parent (94%) says they want their child to attend college. So, with that encouragement, nearly 68% of high school graduates started out for college (44% of these kids to community college). Compare that to 43% of Americans attend church regularly and 50% of adults are married. College is now more popular then religion or spouses!
In the end, only 54% of these kids actually graduate within 6 years of starting college. So we have all these students with high hopes and dreams going in, but only about half graduate and join society with crazy student loan debt.
We would all love scholarships for our kids, but that does not happen to most. This weak economy of ours is forcing institutions to limit their generosity in scholarships and financial aid, so the average student takes on more debt than the generation before. Anyone wanting to go to college needs to explore every option for help. The Council for Opportunity in Education is a nonprofit organization established in 1981 dedicated to expanding college opportunities for low income, first-generation students, veterans and students with disabilities. Sites to help find money and scholarships include Fast Web, FinAid and Student Aid Alliance. If you want to help fulfill kids’ dreams of going to college, look into Scholarship America to help with a donation. At DollarDays on our Facebook page, we are giving away $2,500 in products to college students; so make sure you nominate a student who could use our help.
America is the land of dreams and opportunity. Anyone who is passionate enough to want a college education should be afforded the opportunity to at least try. It would be just great if we could make a college education free just like we do a high school education, but each of us in our right mind knows this is a pipe dream. So the $35K in student debt will turn into $45K for the next generation and so on. A college degree is worth a million dollars more than a high school degree over your lifetime. Being well educated is priceless. I guess the risk of adding to your debt may be worth the reward of being a strong contributor to our economic future. I just wish it did not hurt so much.
September 17, 2013 No Comments
By Marc Joseph, CEO & Founder of DollarDays (Reposted from The Huffington Post)
With the start of the school year, we have yet another terrifying shooting incident at the McNair Discovery Learning Academy elementary school in Decatur, Georgia. This is less than a year away from the tragedy in Newtown, CT. Between Newtown and Decatur, the U.S. has experienced 12 other shootings at schools. I just can’t image how much stress this puts on all teachers. Our dedicated teachers do what they do because they have a passion to help mold the future of this country, foster creativity in young people, develop character in students and help people lead productive lives. They become teachers because of their sense of service. Having to protect kids from shootings was not part of their original job description — but it is now.
Then on top of the stress to protect our kids, salaries have not moved much for teachers during the recession we have weathered since 2008. But what has moved up is the money teachers take out of their own pockets to help their kids. According to USA Today, teachers will be spending an average of $400 out of their own pockets for classroom supplies and other help for their kids this fall, which is up 3 percent from last year. Mallori Lucas, a language arts teacher in Valparaiso, IN, says, “Of course we’re not forced to spend our money. But some of these kids don’t even get breakfast before they come to school, so we buy those snacks and treats.” Comparing today’s school spending trends to 10 years ago, the National Center for Education has school spending on supplies at 4.1 percent of the budget compared to 8.1 percent. Kids still need the same amount of supplies and learning materials they needed 10 years ago, but it does not look like our schools have this in their budgets.
Teachers by nature are resourceful considering that last year they took $3 Billion out of their own pockets to help their kids; and they are going to spend even more this year. You can see this inventive behavior with what happened all over the country this summer as teachers anticipated they needed to help their students more than ever. Elementary school teacher Mary Loung started Educycle which helps other teachers sell or pass along useable school materials, and shop for supplies they need in their classrooms in California. Businesses can also donate any surpluses to schools through Educycle. The Chicago Sun Times reports that David Zine and Peter Baker, high school social study teachers from Aurora rode their bicycles to Seattle to raise money for Best Buddies, a nonprofit that partners special needs and general education students to help forge friendships. The Memphis Business Journal talks about teacher Elizabeth Monda from Corning Achievement Elementary, who was one of the first teachers to use the site PledgeCents, a crowd funding site, to raise $4,000 for materials for her students. And this dedication happens in every city, every state to make sure our kids are prepared to learn this year.
Charles Best, CEO of DonorsChoose, an online nonprofit charity group that matches donors and teachers for supplies and projects reports, “We’ve had a 30 percent increase over last year in requests from teachers.” So we should all go to DonorsChoose to help out these teachers in need. At DollarDays on our Facebook page, we are giving away a total of $2,500 in products to 13 teachers who are nominated, so submit your favorite teacher to win.
How did we, as a well-educated society, get ourselves into this mess where we are putting so much stress on the teachers who we entrust with our kids every day? School should be a sanctuary of learning, maturing and growing our children into the next greatest generation. Instead teachers worry about bullets and having enough money for the basic functions needed to educate the leaders of tomorrow. Our current leaders have raised taxes, have us in a sequestration and can’t agree on anything to help move this country forward. Nothing has changed since Newtown, except we are spending less to help our teachers teach our kids to be decent and honorable. It is the teachers of today with their dedication and determination who will set the example for their students by their actions of caring and giving. The rest of us need to support these public servants and ease their personal burden of doing the right thing for our kids.
September 4, 2013 No Comments
by Marc Joseph (reprinted from August 1, 2013 Huffington Post)
Spending this fall for students K-12 is expected to drop 12 percent, according to a National Retail Federation survey reported in the Wall Street Journal. The average that will be spent on each kid is $634.78, down from $688.62 in 2012. Even those going to college are expecting decreases from $836.80 this year, down from $907.22 last year. So it looks like the payroll tax hike, the sequestration and the continued sluggish job market are finally going to rear their ugly heads during the first major sales season of the year. This is troublesome news for retailers because the back to school (BTS) season is like the canary in the coal mine; BTS sales trends historically predict how the holiday fourth quarter sales will turn out. And in another BTS warning about the economy, 47.7 percent of college students expect to live at home, up from 42.9 percent in 2012.
These depressing numbers tell us that the American family has begun to focus on the needs of their children for BTS rather than the wants of their kids. If working Americans are having trouble getting their kids ready for BTS, what about the children in families stuck in poverty or not working at all? According to The Hechinger Report, poverty is getting so concentrated in America that one out of five public schools is classified as a “high poverty” school by the US Department of Education. To be classified as high poverty, 75 percent of an elementary, middle or high school students must qualify for a free or reduced price lunch.
Moyers & Co. reports that U.S. poverty (fewer than $17,916 for a family of 3) affects 46.2 million people, up 15.1 percent. The 16.1 million children in poverty are 22% of all children, including 39 percent of African-American and 34 percent of Latino kids. Deep poverty (fewer than $11,510 for a family of 4) hits 20.4 million people, which represents 1 in 15 Americans. On top of all this, we have 1,065,794 homeless students enrolled in U.S. preschools and K-12 schools and we know that only 48 percent of poor children are ready for school by the age of 5, compared to 75 percent of children from moderate and high income families.
So we have parents who are going to be spending less on their children for BTS. And we have poverty creating a major burden for schools to figure out how to deal with accommodating these kids’ needs. This is a bleak time for not only our economy, but to the answer of how we cope with an all-inclusive society so that no child is left behind.
Some organizations are rising to the occasion with drives to provide the underprivileged with what they need to go back to school with dignity with staples like backpacks, school supplies and clothes. Fox News reported in St. Louis that the National Council of Jewish Women brought a Back to School store to 1,200 children in need where they could just pick out what they needed for school. The Broomfield Enterprise in Colorado reports the organization “Crayons to Calculators” hopes to provide 9,000 students with new backpacks full of supplies. The City Wire in Arkansas reports on the “Stuff the Bus” campaign supported by the United Way where bright yellow buses will be scattered throughout Fort Smith, AR to collect school supplies for children in need. This is the ninth year of Stuff the Bus. We can all help online at Operation Backpack, where they are gathering backpacks for the New York City children in need (collected 13,500 in 2012). At DollarDays on our Facebook page, we are giving away $2,500 in products to a back to school drive that is nominated, so submit your favorite.
We have been putting up with this recession since late 2007. It has been close to six years where the poor are getting poorer, the needy are getting needier and now it looks like our school children will be getting less. Spending less for BTS is a major blow to our economy and when word of this decrease becomes widespread, it will be a major blow to the American psyche. As Americans, we have to do what we can do to ensure the long-term survival of our educational system, because all these kids, rich and poor, are our future. Dig deep into your pockets and help out your local backpack drive by donating backpacks, school supplies or cash so they can buy what is needed for the underprivileged. If you are a parent or grandparent, spend a little more on your kids for BTS so we can prove the predictions wrong. If this BTS season is truly less than last year, then we are in for a long, cold fall and winter retail season which will keep us in this recession for another year.
August 1, 2013 No Comments
Last week the White House released their “American Jobs Act” proposal. Two ideas that caught my eye included preventing up to 280,000 teacher layoffs, and modernizing at least 35,000 public schools by supporting new science labs, Internet-ready classrooms and renovations at schools across the country, in rural and urban areas. No matter what your political outlook is on life, these are two parts of the act that all Americans must agree our society needs to keep our country moving forward in this highly competitive world.
In addition to the HP article, we wanted to remind everyone of the Facebook contest happening now!
I wish we all had the courage of the Tacoma teachers. My company, www.dollardays.com is giving away $5,000 in school supplies to a school through our Facebook page, but this is just a small drop in the bucket of much needed funding. Every company, every community should be pushing our representatives in Washington to do the right thing. Fund teachers, fund school building and this in the short run will help our economy get back on track.
Be sure to enter into this giant giveaway!
September 20, 2011 No Comments