While it is politically expedient to berate the Obama administration for increases in child poverty, it would have almost certainly happened under a GOP administration as well. The challenges of education and a constantly changing economy that renders large swaths of workers obsolete with the stroke of a keyboard as businesses move jobs and production to where they can earn a profit, are major challenges. And they are at the heart of increasing child poverty. The same stats that broke down poverty according to ethnicity, also shows that almost half of all Native and African American children have no parent with full-time permanent employment. But they also show that 24% of Non-Hispanic White children face the same problem: a single parent, or both parents living from paycheck to paycheck, with no job security. Relatively little job security is a fact of life right across the social and economic spectrum.

Unfortunately, laying on the union regulations will only drive more businesses away from any jurisdiction that tries that approach. How to provide flexible solutions – like jobs-relevant education for parents and sustainable public schools that actually teach their pupils the increasingly complex skills needed to get a decent job – when Mothers from wealthy communities screech against their daughters having to learn too much at school? If they are frustrated, how is a welfare mother feeling about her kids’ D average in 8th grade? Resigned? Exhausted? Depressed? How to build faith in their ability to provide their kids a reasonable start when we can’t agree on what to teach in schools? Or how to teach it?

Local and flexible solutions are the only way out. That means giving local communities the resources, but more importantly, the control over how to spend those resources. What works in Brooklyn may not work in Missouri. And also to keep in mind we are dealing with relative poverty. Yes, relative poverty matters greatly, but large parts of the world live at or below America’s poverty line, measured in real and absolute terms. Progress is being made, but not nearly fast enough to prevent kids from slipping into relative poverty. We need a public education system that inspires faith in its ability to provide children with a fighting chance, no matter what neighborhood they live in. And that’s a job for each community to solve, on each community’s own terms as much as reasonably possible.

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