California has inadvertently decided to run a comparison test between to different approaches to seeing that foster children get the best education possible.
As you know, this is a subject very close to my heart.
Although California has only 12 percent of the total population of the United States it has a disproportionate 20 percent of the children in foster care.
Why is anybody’s guess?
Broken homes, out–of–wedlock–births, abusive parents or incapable parents all contribute to the problem.
Last year a report by an advocacy group, which therefore must be taken with a grain of salt, found that foster children in California schools had the lowest math scores in any category and their English proficiency was on a level with children who were learning English or had disabilities.
Reporter Lisa Leff, of the Associated Press, found Michael Jones, a teacher in the Elk Grove Unified School District near Sacramento, who saw the problem firsthand and did something about it. As Leff tells it, Jones “founded a weekly class where students in foster care could meet each other, talk about their struggles, get a hug and pick up school supplies, toiletries, and even prom attire that he bought or were donated. He has since expanded it to the district's other high schools.”
The results were impressive. Kandance Stagner, who had bounced around from foster care to foster care since elementary school, graduated last June and will be attending college in Nebraska.
Jones' method is one way, the concerned and caring model that should be the motivation for foster parents, too, but that’s another topic for another time.
The state of California is going a different way. By the year 2021 $9.3 billion dollars will be distributed to school districts based on how many kids are in foster care, come from low income families or are non–English speakers.
The money will be spent on at least 42,000 foster children and will hire an army of attendants. In the Los Angeles Unified School District alone three foster youth liaisons will be replaced by “92 guidance counselors, behavior specialists, attendance monitors and service coordinators.” The foster children will also receive tutoring, counseling and a whole array of other activities.
Jones, who didn’t need a check from the state to motivate him, is not optimistic that the problem can be spent into oblivion. “You can't fund decency. You can't fund caring. And unfortunately, that's a big problem with the system right now is the mindset is we will throw money at it and we will make things better.
There is not enough money on the planet to put people in kids' lives who actually care and are there because they think it's the right thing to do."
I fear Jones is correct. We live in a fallen world, which is the reason there are so many foster children in the first place.
Until people’s hearts are in the right place and following Jones’ example is the accepted practice, I suppose we will have to hope the money helps.
Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan. He is president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation and chairman of the League of American Voters. Mike is an in-demand speaker with Premiere. Read more reports from Michael Reagan — Go Here Now.