The newly-crafted state budget includes $12.5 million in “economically disadvantaged fund” money and Lynn is slated to receive some of it. The city received $3.1 million from the fund last year to provide transitional assistance primarily aimed at helping the city’s schools.
This is the third year the city will receive money from the fund to provide a temporary fix for a problem faced by urban schools like Lynn’s. The problem is rooted in a change in the way state officials measure poverty.
The argument urban educators make is that students in Lynn and other cities who were previously counted in funding calculations were not counted after the measurement system changed.
News that the city is in line to get economically disadvantaged funding assistance is good. But some good news isn’t sufficient to cancel out bad news stemming from policies that fail to accurately measure the economic conditions prevailing in a community.
By any definition, creating a measurement system or a standard for eliminating poverty is an armchair solution to a problem that must be tackled head-on. Poverty wears many faces and in Lynn it includes children, college students and families classified as working poor who are struggling to string together income from several jobs.
Poverty is ugly. It is the smothering of hopes and spirits in people who want the best for their children, who want comfort and security and can’t achieve it because they can’t earn a living wage and they are faced with unrelenting food insecurity.
State aid to Lynn and other cities is, as Mayor Thomas M. McGee noted, “really important.” But what is more important is ensuring that everyone in the position to ease, even end, poverty gets on the same page when it comes achieving that goal.
If public schools are penalized because of changes in the metrics for measuring poverty, then a serious examination aimed at answered the question, “Why?” needs to be undertaken.
Meanwhile, it’s heartening to know that Lynn’s legislative delegation and its mayor are aware of the challenges faced by public school educators and agencies working on the front lines of poverty.
Lynn has a mayor expertly versed in how the Legislature works and it has veteran legislators who can initiate and guide the discussion required to address any imbalances and shortcomings tied to how the fight against hunger is being waged in Lynn.
Because young minds always offer the potential for unlimited promise, there are always good reasons to provide more money for schools. More money translates into arts and music programs. It translates into tutoring. It translates into plentiful and enriching after-school programs.
In modern schools it also translates into paying for more security and more social service assistance in the form of counseling and feeding children.
Let’s replace our bad policies with good ones and erase the ugly face of poverty.