The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

December 5, 2013

Our View: Breaking a vicious cycle

Gov. Sam Brownback supposes that he can break the cycle of poverty by boosting reading proficiency.

In order to do this, the Kansas Republican proposes taking money from federal assistance for low-income families and giving it to the Rural School and Community Trust to work with Save the Children to administer reading programs in rural schools.

The hitch to this kind of thinking is that it assumes that if you’re a poor kid, you can’t read. That’s a stereotype.

Instead of making sure that children who live in low-income homes get enough to eat and have warm clothes to wear, Brownback’s plan takes money from one problem and throws it at another.

Making sure that children are proficient in reading by the time they enter fourth grade is something that taxpayers should expect from public schools. But we don’t think taking $12 million away from programs for the poor is the way to ensure that outcome.

Brownback’s plan has not yet been approved, but it is part of the 2014 budget for the Kansas Department of Children and Families. Brownback’s proposal takes funding from the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant, which the state department uses for cash assistance, utility assistance, child care assistance and Early Head Start programs.

We think allocating money for good teachers and programs aimed at helping everyone — income aside — is always a good investment.

But not at the risk of having some people’s gas or electricity shut off.

Brownback should restore funding to public schools and early childhood programs if he really is trying to do something more than just make a political statement.

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