Shouldn’t We Be Helping Those at Home First?

The United States spends $30 billion a year on official development assistance overseas, according to Oxfam America. […] We have foreign aid [to protect] our national security with [the] hopes it will reduce [the] poverty and injustice that fuel social tensions and [destabilize] countries. It also helps with our own economic interests, because aid can support the generation of demand for U.S. goods, which builds stable trading partners. [Additionally], based on the morality of our country, [providing aid is] “the right thing to do,” because it may help advance human rights and, in turn, democracy. Anyone picking up a newspaper over the last couple of months has […] to question if our aid has made countries more stable, brought democracy to the rest of the world or created a larger demand for U.S.-made goods.

Last year, we spent $14.4 billion to support Title 1, [otherwise known as] the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), [which] provides resources to schools situated in low-income communities. […] This is down from the previous year […] because of the government cut in funds due to our ongoing “sequestration.” Childhood poverty in the United States stands at 21.1%, [or the equivalent of 15.5 million children]—more than one in five. […] The National Education Association says that to reach all eligible children in poverty, Title 1 needs $45 billion. What a coincidence that Title 1 is $30 billion short of helping our kids at home—the same amount of dollars we are shipping overseas.

Title 1 support is so important to the future of America and what makes a school successful. According to Newsweek and the research done by Harvard professor Roland Fryer, Jr., strictly controlled environments foster success in students. Five principles are reflected in successful schools: frequent teacher feedback, the use of data to guide classroom instruction, frequent and high-quality tutoring, extended school days and years, and a school culture of high expectations. Title 1’s funding goal is “to ensure that all children have a fair, equal and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach proficiency on state academic achievement standards.” [Effectively], Title 1 funds are to be used to improve curriculum, instructional activities, counseling [and] parental involvement, [as well as] increase staff and program improvement.

No kid in America should go hungry, and our government does have a federally subsidized school lunch program. According to, this program supports student nutrition in over 101,000 schools and provide[s] free and reduced-price […] meals to low-income children before school, during school, after school and over the summer. […]

In September, the Children’s Defense Fund released the latest data about poverty, stating there are 46.7 million poor people in America, [33% of which] are children, [making them] the poorest age group. […] Children of color […] are disproportionately poor; […] 37% of black children and 32% of Hispanic children [fall into this category], [compared to] 12% of [Caucasian] kids. The younger the children, the poorer they are, with 25% of kids under age five considered poor—and these are the [strongest] years [for] brain development.

We have to be realistic. The government only has so much money to spend to continue to operate. Our legislatures scared us in September by averting a government shutdown and approved temporary spending measures to keep federal agencies operating through December 11. Much like we have trouble balancing our checkbooks and prioritizing where we spend our own money, our government is having that problem on a massive scale and continues to kick the can down the road. […] So until our leaders get their acts together, it falls back on individuals to help the poor, the hungry and the disadvantaged in this country.

Luckily, there are several nonprofits […] we can turn to with our donations and volunteer[ing efforts]. The Children’s Defense Fund is a strong and effective independent voice for all children in America. The Salvation Army, in their mission for “doing the most good,” feed, clothe and comfort those in the most need. The Gospel Rescue Missions provide social services to help the less fortunate. […]

The numbers of those in need in America are staggering. Our government has no more money to allocate to additional programs, so it must move its dollars around rather than hoping to collect more taxes. This country needs to look to help itself first. What would happen if we took all of this foreign aid and poured it into lifting [up] our own struggling citizens?

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