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November 17, 2008

Blog Nine

Dear President Elect Barack Obama,
First and foremost, congratulations on your recent victory as President. It is common knowledge that our country is having economical issues. I would like to focus this letter in particular, on single mothers below the poverty line. It is important for us all to realize that these mothers do not get this way because they are “lazy? and choose to be this way. Children put many limits on jobs in reguards to hours, travel, education, and transportation. While it may seem like a simple task, in most cases it is not as easy as walking out the door and finding a respectable job. Many of these mothers do not live in nice neighborhoods and therefore, do not have the means and education to leave that area and get hired at a nice working facility.
Because it is so difficult for these mothers to get decent jobs, I propose we make childcare costs and things like bus passes more affordable for working mothers after they’re backgrounds have been checked. According to Newman, “the working poor are the least likely of all income groups to receive assistance with childcare costs? (Newman 275). If these mothers could receive more assistance with things like childcare and transportation they would have better chances to get jobs because their children would be taken care of more often and things would be more affordable. Hopefully this plan will help keep those below the poverty line on the uprising.

Blog 9: i got into this a little too much...

Mr. President,

I would like to start off this letter by congratulating you on your election victory, and let you know that my thoughts are with you during this time when you will be expected to reverse so many of the problems we have acquired over the past eight years and beyond. As you begin to establish ideas for new policies and readjustments within our social systems, I encourage you to think about issues affecting mothers across this country. In particular, working class mothers. While in the past these women have faced much oppression in the forms of (to list a few) economic disparity, unfair divisions of labor which force them to both work in and out of the house without recognition, decreased access to educational opportunities, unaffordable health care and child care for their families, and an unjustifiable sexist and racist stigmatization of “lazy and bad motherhood? enacted by welfare reform and other public policy disasters, I demand that you bring these issues to the forefront of your decision making to enable real, positive change.

If we are to go forward in this society that places so much weight on the reproductive capabilities of women, we must also recognize the unfair demands that our culture places on women trying to raise children. Public programs and social systems must be put in place that provide women with the appropriate support to allow them the best opportunities to create and maintain healthy, safe families. Whether “normative? families or not, women should get the same amount of assistance and encouragement to do so.

In response to something you said in a recent speech, I too agree that men need to be encouraged to be better fathers. Thank you for being one of the only male politicians that has said so. It is the responsibility of the entire community to care for children and families. Women cannot do it all alone, and they have been trying to for far too long. The support of the government becomes vital to the success of families. Enacting social programs that make financial stresses like childcare, healthcare, housing, transportation and education less damaging is just a start. In addition, we need to re-imagine the ways we think of “good? mothers. Traditional, nuclear families should not be the only model of success. We must uplift single mothers, poor mothers, mothers of color, abused mothers, disabled mothers and young mothers to stop the cyclical nature of oppression.

For the sake of women and families everywhere, please consider these thoughts as you make important decisions throughout the next four years.

Thank you and good luck,

Corrie Halladay

WEEKnine.

Dear Mr President, Barack Obama,

Thanks for cunsulting me in your decision to better the economic structure of America today. As we all know, the economy is struggling, and is keeping the rich richer, and the poor poorer. I suggest that we focus more on the poor classes and find a better strategy for those in need.
The working poor receive low wages and seem to get trapped by the system. Mothers and fathers have children who are put into the system, whose children may end up in the system and beyond. In a reading we read as a class called 'On Fixing Bad Mothers and Saving Their Children' Annette Appell argues our nations idea of a 'good' mother. She discusses four very unfair situations of mothers losing their children to the government and being unable to get them back due to unreal expectations from the court. A way to solve this unfair treatment is to examine all mothers fairly and the same. Also, to hold the same expectations for fathers as we do for mothers. The court also needs to do further examination on each mother instead of a simple overview of their background. Many of these children aren't benefitting from being away from their families. It may seem like the lesser of two evils, but we need to do something.
On the issue of helping the poor in need, we need to have a better way of getting money to those who need it and supply jobs for those who need them. This goes along with the fact that we need a better examination of their situation and their needs. As a nation, we need to stop pushing their problems under the rug and confront these issues head on.
Contrary to what many think, just because people are on welfare and need money doesn't automatically mean that they are lazy or are only spending their money on drugs. Many of these people are doing everything that they can to make it, but the system keeps them down.
Everyone deserves the same rights and benefits. We need to help.

blog nine yo

Dear President-Elect Obama,

First of all, thank you so much for your interest in my opinion. I appreciate the time you are taking to become personally informed by the students of our nation. The class I am taking is not specifically on the issues surrounding class and poverty, but we have read some articles that address these problems, and yes, they are problems. These are systemic problems that do not stem from laziness or lack of motivation on the part of those in poverty, contrary to many popular opinions. The most influential thing for many people in my class was simply to read some personal narratives as given in “On Fixing ‘Bad’ Mothers and Saving Their Children.? As president, you have a very powerful role to play in directing our nation’s attention. By essentially telling people’s stories and bringing the public’s attention to people in poverty you can raise awareness and disarm many detrimental opinions held by people in power. You did it in your ad campaigns and I believe you can do it again to benefit this cause.
I understand the hard part about introducing any kind of social change toward power entropy is the reaction people could have regarding socialism. This can be avoided if you discuss issues within a real-life, positive context; tell the stories of people who benefited greatly from federal aid projects.
While many of these federal aid projects have drawbacks, more funding and more personnel would solve many. The key to these projects though, is personal involvement by individuals who care about these issues. And the first way to make people care, is to involve them just by making them aware.

sorry my response is late. had to buy a third bike, you know.

Dear President Elect Obama

Dear President Elect Obama,

In response to your request to examine economic strategies and policies that would benefit the working poor, especially those mothers that fit that classification, I have thought long and hard about all options available and what issues need to be dealt with in order to make progress in this situation. One of the first problems that should be addressed, and possibly the most important to look at in order to move forward in this area, is to convince the people in general that people who are poor are not also lazy. For many it is common sense to them that to be poor means you must be lazy and just don't work. They ignore the conditions that these working poor live in, what they have to live with day after day, how difficult it is for them to find a good job since most employers are unwilling to hire them. Your first task should be to work to convince the general public that the working poor are not lazy. They are not drug addicts or idiots or and of the other generalizations that many associate with them. You must get the people to understand that the working poor are just normal people like you and like me who have lived through unfortunate circumstances that have possibly prevented them from having the money to go to college which would prevent them from getting a better job. These people may simply have been born into a poor family and then found it extremely difficult to work him/herself out of the 'poor' status. These poor people also most likely do not have adequate money for transportation, for enough good food, or even for proper living quarters or clothes which could also hinder his/her chances to get a good job and therefore earn enough money to not be considered poor anymore. So first, convince the general public that the working poor are good people like you and me who are just living in unfortunate circumstances.

Even more so, you must convince the general public that the group of women who are working poor can still be good mothers despite her financial situation. These mothers love their children just as much as a mother who is middle class with a substantial income. They, like all the working poor, just are living in unfortunate circumstances that they are trying their best to get out of. These mothers may even work harder than others so that they can try and provide a better future for their children. An idea, perhaps, to help alleviate the idea that these working poor mothers are not good mothers is to examine the way in which the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is run. Since this is the organization that decides if a mother is good or not, and since this is the organization that decides that a mother is a bad mother wrongly a lot and imposes almost impossible qualifications for these good, proclaimed bad, mothers to regain possession of her children, examining the way in which this organization works and then improving it could be a big step towards getting rid of the idea that poor mothers are bad mothers or at least alleviate the stress that these so called 'bad' mothers have to deal with once 'caught' for supposedly mistreating their children.

Another good step to make would be to give tax breaks employers if they employ poor people. This will help get more poor people out working better jobs, therefore helping them earn enough money to get out of their poor status, and will encourage many of the employers to hire poor people who they may have originally shunned and set aside while hiring supposedly much more qualified candidates (ie. middle class workers).

These first steps will put you on the right track for further improvements relating to the working poor and how society runs where poor people are concerned and I hope I was able to assist you adequately on this issue. Good luck!

~Ariel Orcutt

Blog 9

Dear President Elect Barack Obama,
Upon your upcoming inauguration, I think the issues surrounding working poor mothers need to be fully addressed. To start this process, we need to break down the stereotypes about working poor mothers, and acknowledge the interlocking factors of race, class, education and location that all contribute to working poor mothers’ status. One such stereotype claims that poor mothers are unprepared to be “good? mothers, because many receive government aid. While most people receive government aid on a daily basis through means such as the postal service, social security, college loans and public education, it is considered “bad? and “irresponsible? for poor mothers to need government aid for food stamps, health care, stable housing, child care etc. Because the things poor mothers need aid for are traditionally responsibilities carried out by the mother, their lack of ability to complete these tasks on their own makes them “bad? mothers.
Instead, we need to allow better access to things like affordable, reliable childcare, for “the working poor are the least likely of all income groups to receive assistance with childcare costs? (Newman 275). Access to affordable, accessible health care is also essential, for often employers of working poor mothers do not offer health care benefits, and these mothers are not necessarily eligible for Medicaid (Newman 276). Within health care, we need to offer working poor women a variety of services including gynecological/pre-natal care, access to informative birth control options, and substance abuse treatment options (in some cases, pregnant women with substance abuse problems were charged with abusing their child, but they were rejected from treatment opportunities (Pollitt 287)). Overall however, we need to redefine the discourses surrounding the poor, taking into consideration all the factors that lead to poverty, and remove the stigmas that continue to keep people stuck underneath and within poverty.

Blog Nine!

Dear President Elect Mr. Obama,
Congratulations on your recent win, I am writing to you so that I can give you my advice on what to do about helping and aiding the working poor, especially working mothers. As you well know there is a stigma around poor people that they are lazy or were dumb for allowing themselves and their families to fall under the poverty line. I think you need to teach the rest of America that poor or economically strained are not lazy and that the pile up of hardships in life just become to strong and sometimes being without much money is something they cannot avoid. I mean how can society expect a single mother of two or three kids to be able to pay for all the expenses in life and not need some assistance.
Many women work so hard by taking up to three jobs at a time to support their families and even then it is seemingly impossible to make ends meet. It is not her fault the father is not in the picture and the stress of constantly working with no help makes life a tough struggle for anyone. And then society already makes it so hard for people such as single moms so that when they make one mistake people try to take away the only thing important to them: their kids.
According to an article called “On Fixing ‘Bad’ Mothers,? court systems take away children from their mothers when their parent appears to be doing a bad job of raising them. We the author goes on to allude that how can courts remove children from mothers when systems have created such high standards, but yet do not supply single mothers with the means (i.e. money, support, childcare, etc) so that they can meet criteria for an acceptable home.
Now this story varies across the board, but essentially it is all the same. People need help and they should not be looked down upon by others because it is not always the “other? people over there who finically struggle.

Let's Be Fair

First of all, I think the supermom image needs to be removed because people are beginning to believe that the supermom is the ideal mom that every mom should be. Those who do not meet the supermom standards are considered to be “bad? mothers. Hochschild (8) found that more mothers than fathers questioned their parenting abilities. It’s hard to say where that stems from, but I’m willing to bet that part of it comes from the supermom ideals. I think men and women (regardless of race/class) need to start sharing more equal responsibilities within the household. Then, mothers wouldn’t be examined so closely when it comes to deciding whether or not she’s a “good? mother. There needs to be more images of the working dad or “the new man,? and work vs. parenting advice books should not be restricted to women (Hochshild, 26.) This is not to say that men should take over the working mom’s role entirely, but that mothers and fathers should be on equal grounds.

Case workers need to have better training, and DCFS needs to be better organized. A small minority of children taken away from their mothers were actually physically harmed or neglected. Their mothers love them, and often provide much better care for them than the state (Appell, 356). The focus needs to be placed solely on the needs of the children. That’s where much of the problem lies. Client service plans need to be realistic and with the intent to reunite the family, rather than punish the mother for her “bad? mothering (Appell, 230).

Well-functioning mothers should not be seen strictly as being personally competent, but rather socially competent (Hochschild, 23). Successful mothers have many resources available to them. There needs to be more jobs made available for mothers, along with better pay. 46% of working women earn below $10,000 a year (Hochshild, 25). Any job is a good job for those in poverty, but people can’t get a good job unless they’re educated, but people can’t get educated unless they have a decent job to pay for the education. There needs to be a better system in place that will allow this cycle to break.

Week Nine Blog

President Obama,
According to Arlie Hochschild author of What We Can do for the Working Poor, today in the United States there are millions of people living well below the poverty line. The majority of these people are single mothers, of minorities, who work full time jobs, but can never make ends meet. Hochschild has noted that people living well below the poverty line face extreme obstacles that limit them from ever climbing the socioeconomic ladder. Even with a life time of hard and constant work will these families ever rise above the poverty line. The kinds of jobs they face are minimum wage working in fast food or factories. They live in the slums where these kinds of jobs are based. They don’t have the means to go out of their environment to look for higher paying jobs. It takes time and money to travel to an environment with better paying jobs. Most of the working poor do not have the connections for better jobs, houses, or majority of opportunities. The jobs that they take have no health care plans so families have to live without. Families also have little access to affordable childcare which limits how much a parent can or cannot work. These families are ill equipped for having the “American dream? and without the basic necessities are looked down upon. Many mothers who do not have the resources are considered “bad mothers? for not providing or being gone all the time. These mothers are doing the best they can with what little society gives them, they are wrongly labeled and are working harder than most mothers for less. They are not bad they just have too many obstacles that our society has created to live a normal life.
I recommend getting rid of the obstacles would improve the conditions of the working poor. It’s easier said than done plus I don’t think it would fix the problem because I feel like we are too deep into an economic recession to do much good. I would propose programs that first of all improve government housing. I think building or restoring housing in neighbors with little opportunities can help. Bringing better jobs into these communities is nessarcy. Starting grass root jobs and programs in the communities will encourage the residents to get involved in their communities. I believe that providing free transportation to surrounding towns will also help get people to better paying jobs. I also believe that providing a better health care system is very important I think your(Obamas) health care plan is going to provide for even the poorest of poor. Providing government funded daycare programs in communities will also help parent’s be able to work more. Getting teenagers involved in community programs or internships/apprenticeship will also get these kids the connections that they lack. Programs like EITC that create subsidies for parents helps cut taxes or the NYAP that helps students get their foot in the door should be widespread and utilized. Using the money from the conservatives trillion dollar ridicules war can be given to help these families with the basic necessities. Or using money from big guns to provide better paying jobs is another great idea to stimulate the economy and help the working families.

Week Nine

President Obama,

I have no doubt that you know more than anyone what your election means to the nation, not just to democrats or African Americans, but rather to the nation. You campaigned along side the first “serious? female candidate for president and in a race where every party ran on the belief that our nation needed change. But in a nation where equality has been placed with upright importance, where writing inclusive legislation and destroying the barriers between success and race/gender/sexuality have been placed on a list of accomplishments, not dreams, it seems foolish that poverty and class have found their place on the backburner, when in reality, poverty is no backburner problem. Poverty is a daily problem that is found in millions of hungry stomachs and a million more non-existent dinner tables from urban Miami to rural North Dakota.
Although poverty may be more American (and certainly more common) than apple pie, too many incorrect ideas are associated with poverty. It is too commonly thought that the poor are lazy, that with a little effort poverty could be shed like old skin. But poverty is a multi-faceted cycle that cares little about “effort?. In What We Can Do for the Working Poor, Katherine Newman uses “Wage Subsidies and Tax Breaks,? “Unions,? “Child Care and Health Care? and many more as subtitles to discuss specific areas that need to be improved/changed in order to make any kind of difference in poverty.
Creating a single policy or strategy to help the poor will not end poverty, but it help. The truth is that poverty is affected by too many factors to be “cured? by one policy. Newman notes that, “[The working poor] have not claimed a very large piece of the policy stage…[Scholars] have done little? (287). Poverty is not caused by laziness or the unwillingness to become a “productive? citizens, but it is next to impossible to escape in system in which one thing is connected to another. (For example, no wage or low wage = cheap food or no food = poor health but no wage or low wage = no or little health insurance) Future policies need to keep this in mind, that in trying to fix a system with limbs that branch into everything, care needs to be taken but change needs to happen.

November 16, 2008

Blog Assignment Nine

Dear President Elect Obama,
In order to make a change in the number of working mothers living in poverty we must first begin to understand and realize why they are there in the first place. When most people think of people in poverty here in the United States, they think of words like "lazy," "alcoholics," "drug addicts," "uneducated," etc. Certainly, in some cases these words apply, but in most, especially in the case of working mothers it the exact opposite. We think that it is an individual problem and that if they would work harder, get a job, or would have made better choices these people wouldn't be in the situations they are now. This isn't always true. For many women living in poverty it was an inescapable future. For many children growing up in a poor family it would have been near impossible to escape poverty when they got older. Schools in their neighborhoods were probably not the best, and they may have had no money for supplies, transportation, lunches, etc. Also, maybe they had no choice but to quit school and get a job to help support the family, or have no choice of college because of lack of money to pay for it.

Once these women, or people in general, get into this situation it is even harder to get out. Since these mothers don't have much money they end up living in areas that put them at a greater disadvantage of ever getting out of poverty. It might not have very many job opportunities, and the ones it has will be low paying with little to no diversity. They have no money for transportation to a better area. Also, if these mothers have children that aren't school age they have to worry about things like child care. They can't stay home with their children because they have to work to survive, they can't bring their kids to work with them, and they don't have extra money to pay for child care. There may not be adequate schools for their children to goto when they grow up or the nearest school could be miles away with no form of transportation to get there. These mothers aren't lazy, they are probably working harder than the housewives living on cloud nine with enough money to buy whatever they want and enough time to take care of their children. Instead, these mothers in poverty are working at least one, a lot of times two, jobs, taking care of their kids, cleaning the house, cooking, etc, and with any "spare time" probably looking for a better job or a way out of this life.

The way to help these working mothers living in poverty isn't to treat them as the bottom of society, label them with words like "lazy" or "alcoholic," or take their kids away like in "On Fixing 'Bad' Mothers." The government and private companies need to set up programs and ways to help them fix their own lives, get them back on their feet, and give them a head start on a new life. These programs could be things like setting up a community of single working mothers in poverty that would help them with affordable, adequate housing and in a location where there was quality education, employment opportunities, health and child care, and transportation. This would decrease the number of people in poverty in the future. Also, programs like the ones mentioned in "What We Can Do For The Working Poor," would prevent these and other children from becoming poor and provide choices they wouldn't normally have. These are programs that involve work opportunites in schools. For kids that won't be able to afford higher education, this provides them with better job choices, a higher guarantee of getting a job in the future, and a better chance at a job that will pay enough to live outside of the poverty line.

Society needs to realize that poverty doesn't always mean lazy, avoidable, bad choices, or a choice at all, but that sometimes poverty is unavoidable and that we need to help give people the lucky break and support they deserve.

Week Nine Blog

Dear President,

I would like to address a major problem we have here in the United States: poor working single mothers. Many people have categorized them as lazy or drug abusing people, when in reality that is not true in most cases. Many times it makes more sense for a single mother to stay on welfare and be able to stay home to take care of her children versus going to work and not making enough money to provide good child care. According to the essay, "What We Can Do for the Working Poor," many people work full-time jobs but still are below the poverty line. Does this seem right? They work just as much as everyone else but still can barely afford to live.

So if a person can work a full-time job and still not be making enough money, what else can they do? Yes they can work two jobs, but then they're neglecting their families in a way. This could lead a single mother to leave a child at home alone when they're not old enough to be home alone. I believe minimum wage levels should be established instead of a set minimum wage. They would be determined by the person's cost of living needs to provide enough for them to survive. The government would have to make a law saying companies would have to hire equal amounts of people from each level of need.

Also in areas densly populated by poor citizens, schools can be provided with programs to educate students about job skills and figuring out ways to pay for college. Job skills could range from how to do a good interview to how to count change back. These programs probably wouldn't be about becoming a doctor because in these areas people to teach that wouldn't be very common. But for those who do want to aspire to that they can be taught how to make it to college and how to pay for it.

Family planning centers should also be implicated and advertized for to encourage their use. In the essay, "On Fixing 'Bad' Mothers and Saving Their Children," Annette Appell tells us about Emily, a teen mother. She has five children, all of which are taken away at some point. Had she been educated about birth control and known that it is availble at no cost perhaps this whole situation never would have happened. The best way to help a single mother is for her to never be a single mother. There are situations where the father just leaves or it isn't the mother's fault, but in many cases it is an accidental pregnancy. If they can't afford an abortion how can they afford to raise a child? They try, but it doesn't always work out. I think prevention is always the best place to start, but when it does happen we have established programs such as food stamps and welfare.

More can be done to help the poor families of the United States, and especially the single mothers. Just because they are in these situations does not make them bad mothers. I think the government could save some money by not being so critical of some mothers. Perhaps she made a mistake five years ago, but we have to give her a chance to redeem herself. If she can prove she is competent and able to care for that child, she should be allowed to keep the child.

Blog Nine

Dear President-Elect Obama,

It's time for you to show that you mean to bring change to society. No longer must the social "norms" placed upon us be the only way from now on. In a country, where less than 20 of the CEOs of the 500 companies that make up the Fortune 500 and less than 15 that are headed by women, it's time to make a change.

No longer should the ability to pay deter someone from attending an institute of Higher Education. Though there are programs such as Federal Loans and Pell Grants for those who afford to pay for College studies, it's still hard for many attendees to keep up with constant tuition hikes, which serve to decrease the money-making value of a degree, while at the same time making it still necessary to obtain a college degree in order to perform higher positions in society. For women with children, this can become even harder.

However, obtaining a college degree is not enough for some. Once individuals of minority background enter the workforce, they often find that they are paid less than a person who is of the stereotypical white male class. For these individuals, the hard work that may have gone into obtaining a degree may have been further lessened. Furthermore, the amount of time allotted for time off in this country is often much less than is needed to raise a child. Maternity leave is hit or miss. Many companies do not offer paid maternity leave, which can force some women to reenter the workforce well before they may be ready, leaving the child to the care of others at expense to themselves.

For those mother who can't make this transition while still caring for their child, there may be consequences related to how these women are raising their children. Poorer mothers may be unable to obtain care for their children, so they may be forced to leave children home by themselves. In the eyes of society, this can constitute neglect and the child could be taken away, regardless of the mother's abilities as a parent.

What needs to be put in place is paid maternity leave laws that are generous enough to allow women to remain above what is needed to care for their children. Groups such as Moms Rising are already advocating for such laws to be put in place. However, until then, these mothers have to sacrifice either the care of their children or their job and livelihood just to stay afloat, and this is just plain wrong.

Week Nine Blog

Single mothers that live below the poverty line are often a target in pointing out that they are “bad mothers?. However, this is a big typical stereotype that shouldn’t be there in the first place. How does a person or the government judge whether a mother is a bad mother just by her status/class? And what defines a bad mother? Just because she may not have that much money does not mean that she is not providing the essentials that her child might need. Further, in the article “On Fixing ‘Bad’ Mothers and Saving Their Children? it argues that the mother may love and care for her child deeply but may not have the resources to take care of the child, but does that mean that the child must be taken away? It seems that there are many factors that go into making these mothers seem like “bad mothers? but if we help to reduce even some of these issues we can help these mothers gain greater access to the means necessary for social survival.

One big issue is whether these women are working to get enough money to take care of themselves and their child. A mother must be stable on her own to even take on a child. We must make sure that these women are working and are using the money in the right sense, not wasting it on alcohol or other unnecessary expenses. To do so there should be some sort of child care opportunities so that these mothers will not have to be as stressed to take care of their child before taking care of themselves. This way the mother will have time to look for job opportunities so that she may get back on her feet. We need to make sure that jobs are easier for single mothers especially to find and they will not be discriminated against because of their status.

Secondly, the whole system of DCFS needs to be reconstructed somehow. “On Fixing ‘Bad’ Mothers and Saving Their Children? had expressed that often times mothers are trying to get back on their feet and be the mother that they have always wanted to be, but it’s partially the systems fault in keeping these “bad mother’s? in the same bad lifestyle. The system needs to have a new outlook on trying to save not only the children but also the mothers. When dealing with a mother/child pair one person should be looking after them, getting to know them and helping them throughout the process, observing and seeing the positive changes. If there are no positive changes then the worker needs to perhaps help more or change the way in which help is being provided or the areas in which help is necessary. In the example stories in “On Fixing ‘Bad’ Mothers and Saving Their Children? it seemed that help was not often wanted because it would just make things worse for the family and it was also a struggle for the mother’s to prove that they were indeed changing for the better. If even these areas were improved, many families would be happier and on their way towards a better lifestyle and future.

Overall, yes there are many areas in which improvement on single women below the poverty line can be changed. However, these changes don’t just happen overnight. By helping to create better child care and job opportunities, as well as improving the system of DCFS by making help be a desire for single mothers, these steps can dramatically affect the lives of these mothers and their children.

9

If you're looking to help out the working class, and in particular, working class mothers, the first and most important thing to do is to not be afraid to enact any sort of legislation. many stereotypes exist about people in this situation: that they're lazy, irresponsible or jsut looking for a hand-out to continue to merely get by in their situation. These are simply not true of the majority. Many people who live below the poverty line are there not through continued personal choices, but because there is no escape from the situation.

Specifically then, you're going to have to attack some of the points which perpetuate the situation. Chapter nine of Kathrine newman's book "inner city" entitled "what we can do for the working poor" addresses several such points. among these include reducing crime, getting businesses more involved in community action, bettering public education, and increasing social supports for those who are earnestly looking for living wages but cannot find them. i'm sure, however, that these were already fairly obvious to you. one motif that may not be so obvious, however, was that of physical location. living in a poor area not only usually means dealing with poorer public schools (education being a key higher incomes) but also a general lack of jobs, particularly well paying ones, and connections. Even if one ahd the proper skills to receive a particular job, the lack of transportation may inhibit that person to get it. Additionally, a lack of connections may inhibit that person from even knowing the job existed in the first place. my suggestions to remedy this, would be first to expand public transportation not only to ensure that people are able to get to jobs within their metro area, but also because it would keep in line your environmental policies. As for the connections problem, i would suggest requiring employers to notify the public of job openings for a certain amount of time prior to beginning the hiring process. this would give all of those looking for jobs ample time to prepare interviews, ect. not just those who heard about it first.

Blog Nine

President Elect Obama,

First I think it’s important to address the stereotype that the poor are “lazy?. This stereotype only does one thing; it stops any progress from being made in helping the working poor better themselves. So first we must admit that there are real systems holding back the working poor, and specifically working poor mothers. By doing this we are able to look past stereotypes and actually start helping people.

Once we get past that first step we can start to look at what actions we should be taking. The availability of resources is extremely important. The working poor need to have access to things like transportation, birth control and child care. Many working mothers work full time jobs and they have trouble affording child care for their children. When child care is so expensive other things get cut out of the budget. And when there isn’t enough money for the necessities families suffer.

According to Arlie Hochschild and Anne Machung in “The Second Shift: Working Parents and the Revolution at Home? there are many factors that work together to keep the poor, poor. Race, class and location all play a role as systems that keep the poor where they are. This reminds me of the birdcage metaphor. All of the different bars work together to keep the poor in their cage. We must create ways for the bars to be removed and dismantled.

Dear President Elect

Dear President Elect Obama,

I am excited and relieved that you have turned to me to help you come up with a solution of how to help working mothers improve their social situation. Much like other problems that plague something as large as a nation, the problem of how to stimulate working mothers and others below the poverty line to rise into the ever growing ‘middle class’, is a problem that must be addressed by a multitude of answers and not just one. Certainly, child care is a large factor in the problem. Working families below the poverty line cannot afford to send their children to care centers. Providing poor families with child care is the first step in allowing families to support themselves, by lumping child care into overall educational goals, the US can strive to become more like France and Italy and allow future generations to compete with the global market. Another solution that was proposed in “What We Can Do for the Working Poor? by Hochschild is to provide transportation to and from work to the working poor. “Bridges to Work is now up and running in five cities and showing, at this preliminary stage, some positive outcomes.? The truth is there is a overwhelming amount of jobs available in the suburbs of large cities but not enough workers to fill them. By providing transportation to people that can fill those jobs, the government will be helping families ‘help themselves’. One of the most powerful opportunities to help the poor is by increasing the EITC. By allowing the poor to take home more of their wages, the EITC is one of the few in-place programs that actually work and have an impact on American lives. “the cheapest, least bureaucratic method of raising working people above the poverty line is to continue expanding the EITC, even for heads of households without children. No one hwo works full-time should live below the poverty line.? Thank you for listening to my reccommendations.
Noel

Dear President Obama

TO: President Barack Obama:

FROM: Carole MacLean

RE: Suggestions for economic strategies and policies

DATE: November 16, 2008


Thank you for the recent request to aid you in your persistent effort to support policies for economic change that will impact the working people of this nation, in particular, working poor women. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to assist in this timely and all-important work.

As you are aware, generally women make 69 to 80 percent of men’s salaries in the United States. I believe this indicates that we live in a society that values women less than it does men. It is largely the result of pay discrimination by gender on the part of employers, but it is also caused by a societal bias that is out of place in today’s society. Historically, even poor mothers who have entered the workforce after years of being mired in the welfare system are unable to find jobs that pay enough to take care of their families and even while working live below the poverty line. From an article entitled “What We Can Do For The Working Poor,? these women want what is best for their families and children and are not offered the opportunities to improve the living situations for themselves and their children. Children and mothers suffer because of the lack of health insurance for their families.

I believe the keys for equality and equity of all types can be derived from more and better opportunities to education and good paying jobs. Programs within New York City and Chicago, that linked school and work directly we found to be quite successful. In Chicago’s worst middle schools, ground-breaking strides were made to where students were guaranteed summer job placements if they were devoted to a new curriculum including an extra period every day of a foreign language. Students admitted to this program were separated from the rest of the school in special classes that stayed together throughout the day. “As a result, close bonds developed between kids who had the job guarantees and the expectations for solid performance in common.? Classroom attendance, matriculation to the next grade improved as well as better scores in math, English, and social studies. I believe opportunities that are offered like for young people promoting education and job experience are the first steps to empowering the working poor to be successful and to see ways that their lives can change.

I look forward to working you to make this a better nation for all.

The movement of the working class poor

President Elect, Barack Obama:

It is a common stereotype that the poor are lazy, that they do not work, and that they exploit the social services provided to them by our nation. Furthermore, women of the working class poor receive greater criticism still. They exist is such a class that they are deemed as bad mothers, as they are not able to provide for their children as well as women belonging to the middle and upper classes. While many and most of the working class poor use social services as a means of survival because they are truly in need, the small portion of the working class poor that do exploit such services have caused negative viewpoints of them by the general population. In order to break down such paradigms, radical social change is needed in our society. Please allow me to elaborate.

In their work “The Second Shift: Working Parents and the Revolution at Home,? Arlie Hochschild and Anne Machung consider race, class, and location the largest contributors to the cycle of poverty in the working class poor. In order to break the cycle, movement must occur, and programs may be added so as to initiate the movement.

Based on Hochschild’s and Machung’s work, I propose we consider the following. First, we must provide access to work for the poor. Due to urban sprawl, the working class poor may need to travel further for work without the means to do so. Therefore, we must improve the efficiency of public transportation so as to increase employment within the working class poor.

Public funding for child care must also increase. Parents of the working class poor have few options for their small children when it comes to child care and thus have limited opportunity to work. An increase in child care for the working class poor will provide movement within the demographic, as parents will have an increase in labor and wages.

Though these steps are small and few, coupled with other social programs, the status of the working class poor will be on the upswing.

Blog Nine

One of the biggest things that would help struggling, working mothers to be able to succeed is to provide quality child care. Providing mothers with such a service, that is very much hard to find and pay for, would help them have the time to find and maintain a job. Also, the government may even consider using programs laid out in “What We can do for the Working Poor?. Although these programs were geared towards providing assistance to people still in school, I think they can be extended to help working mothers. Such programs would provide the connections and assistance mothers need. Many times, a person just lacks the “right? connections and therefore struggles finding a decent job that allows for promotions.
In general, I think the public system needs to be modified to try to prevent people from abusing such help that is truly needed by others. I think there should be some type of “check-up system? that monitors the person’s spending. When money is being spent on unnecessary things such as shopping at an expensive store or receiving unnecessary services, such as getting one’s nails done, their government aid should be reconsidered. It is such people that reinforce the stereotype that all people that receive government aid are “lazy? and just don’t want to work.
To me, it is very frustrating to see people abuse government aid, especially when there are people that truly need the assistance. It is sad to see that those that really need the help receive very little or are unable to obtain the help due to over-exhaustion of the system.
I was at the grocery store and a woman was using food stamps to pay for her groceries. The thing that bothered me was that she had her nails done and was wearing expensive name brand clothes and accessories. I understand that people like to do things for themselves to make them feel better about themselves but if you are struggling enough to receive aid, is getting your nails done necessary? If one is struggling, I believe that there are ways to cut down spending on such unnecessary items/services before turning to government aid.

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Barack Obama,

The first point that needs to be made is that it problems the work poor are having are problems that are not their fault. It is not laziness, nor lack of motivation that prevents the climbing of the social economic ladder. The problem is that the working poor aren't capable of reaching the second rung, because the first is simply too low. Areas with high populations of poor people do not have the same opportunities that a higher class neighborhood has. Working for minimum wage (as our in class exercise showed) isn't livable on it's own, and even with government aid, the amount of money made would not allow for a move to a different neighborhood. The simple truth is, the working poor are stuck where they are because the opportunities to get out are not obtainable.

That being said, there are ways to help this situation. Two options that directly relate to the neighborhoods are as follows: move the jobs to the neighborhoods, and move the people to the jobs. The former, as mentioned in “What We Can Do for the Working Poor? is not very practical, as it would be too many people to move while the latter is obtainable through tax breaks for companies that move into these neighborhoods. Once these better jobs exist in a reasonable location, the rungs become reachable, and people will naturally start climbing the social-economic ladder. This would also brings in private business into these areas. A better relationship between these businesses and the local schools can (as experiments have clearly determined) drastically help education in the area. As is well know, climbing that ladder relies heavily on education. This is a further empowerment to climb.

This is a place to start. Memos regarding more affordable health care should be expected tomorrow.

Brian Berzins

Blog 9

Dear Barack Obama,

Unfortunately, the United States of America has many issues that need to be dealt with once your presidency begins. One of the issues I would like to bring to attention is the lack of health care and job opportunities of single, working mothers. Now, I understand that many individuals choose to seek no help or work to bring themselves above the poverty line. However, there are many women who are in dire need to provide a better life for themselves and also their children. In society, many individuals claim that these women who are below the poverty line are "bad" mothers because they have gotten themselves into alcohol, drugs, or many pregnancies and births that they can simply not afford. What if these mothers actually want help? Is anyone willing to provide services that can cure/help their addictions or help them receive child care? In Annette Appell's article "On Fixing 'Bad' Mothers and Saving Their Children," she states that, "these 'bad' mothers become, and often remain, bad mothers because they have made bad choices, or, due to their poverty or other circumstances, did not have real choices" (356). What if these mothers did have real choices? What if they could seek the help that is needed to become a strong, healthy, working mother that can support her children? In this article, Appell also explains the stories of four "bad" mothers who struggled to try and get their children back in their lives. Some of these women chose drugs and alcohol, while others were abused or very young to begin a family. DCFS took these children away from their mothers, even if the mothers began to prove that they were capable of raising their children in good circumstances. Race and class were two big issues in these cases as well. Most of the women were black, didn't have very much education, and were of the working-poor. All of these children were craving to be back with their mothers. Even though the mothers had some issues of their own, they never abused or treated their children badly. They were "good" mothers, but since they did "bad" things, their children were taken away from them, and if they wanted to get them back, they had a long list of things to do in order to get them back. I believe that if these women were offered education, an opportunity to seek help in finding a job to support their children properly, and health care, these "bad" habits could have been prevented in the first place. These mothers were obviously doing something right if their children longed to be back in their arms. A little guidance and support can never hurt anyone, and I think this is just what they needed. DCFS wasn't helping them in any way, shape or form. They were making it even harder for the mothers to try and get their children back. Instead, DCFS was making all of these situations even worse and wasn't helping anyone. All in all, I believe that mothers who are considered to stand below the poverty line should be offered health care, education, and an opportunity to find a decent job to support their children. Just because they were considered "bad" mothers does not mean that they have to stay in that category. America is about helping one another and creating equality, so why can't we put these things into action?

Dear Mr. President Elect,


As the son of a single, working class mother, I'm sure you are familiar with many of the policies currently in place that disadvantage such women and their families. Because two thirds of all mothers work outside of the home and 67% of those women have full-time jobs ( The Second Shift), I think a new department, the Department of Family Resources, should be created.

With so many women working outside of the home, in single and two parent households, it is imperative that parents have better access to affordable childcare. Children, often referred to as our greatest national resource, need proper child care and the best way to ensure that each and every child gets it is for the government to provide it. By providing government subsidized childcare for everyone, not just working class families, it ensures that the childcare system will be appropriately funded. This is not Head Start, which is a good program but it is not funded properly or available to everyone. Also, such programs will create many jobs and every child will be given the opportunity for pre-K care and education.

Also, you've got a good start on health care. Be assuring that everyone be ensured you taking a monumental first step. However, your proposal does not ensure that everyone will actually have heath care, just that they are required by law to get it. Many people below the poverty line, some of which who have never had access to health care, still may not seek it under your plan and may receive penalization. What the working class, and everyone else, need is universal health care. Bring in Hillary. Her proposal for universal health care during the primary campaign was a little more comprehensive than your own, ensuring that everyone not only is required to have health care but actually gets it.

There are many more things you can do to help families situationed below the poverty line, but the first step is to make them the focus. Don't let the plight of these people be ignored until after they have “failed? as parents or citizens. Issues that affect working class families are increasingly affecting members of the middle class due to our current economic downturn. We need to provide these resources to all families. Only then will the stigma surrounding social programs that benefit the “lazy? and the “ignorant? disappear. Thank you, Anna Wakefield

Kelsey Hippen

I would say to Barack that finding a solution to this problem is first on my list. The solution to the problem (that working mothers are trapped below the poverty line in an endless cycle of abuse perpetuated by the social system) lies in improving the health of the system. In “On Fixing ‘Bad’ Mothers and Saving Their Children?, Annette Appell discusses how mothers break down, and then how the system, full of its own breakdowns, assumes control and decides that it’s healthy enough to save the day.

This is not what actually happens. The system is not healthy enough to guide working women and their families toward their own health.

The article doesn’t address the true issue. DCFS-like systems need to exist, but they need to operate like a well-oiled machine in order to stabilize families. This requires funding. I believe the crux of the breakdown in the social work system is a lack of funding and a lack of employees through which to distribute the work. The article mentions again and again the times when a social worker didn’t call a woman being supported through DCFS, and yet it doesn’t address why. I believe that social workers are stretched too thin, not adequately compensated, and working within a broken-down, ignored, notoriously faulty system. It’s seemingly hopeless.

Unless, Obama, you create more jobs within this system and appropriate adequate funds for each and every one of the employees and organizers. How can we possibly improve the health of the working poor and their families if we are sick and tired ourselves? We can’t count on social work interns to save the day with their wide eyes and naivety. We need our social work veterans to feel supported in their role and to have fuel to continue. The answer is funding.

blog 9 for chole005

In On Fixing 'Bad' Mothers Annette Appell tells the stories of several disadvantaged mothers who lose custody of their children for one reason or another, and get lost within a system that fails both them and their children. What struck me about each of these stories is that these agencies claim to be representing the best interests of the children, but what the children actually say they want (which is usually to stay with their mothers) is either not considered as a valid opinion or is one of the last things considered. In all situations, the focus is on the acts of the mother, even if this behavior is not endangering the children.

I think what would be most helpful in fixing child services is making the desires of the children, even if they are very young, the most important thing in deciding their fate. With all of these mothers, if the state were to offer these mothers the help they needed, there is no reason they couldn't have kept their children or had they children back within a reasonable time. Also, there needs to be some kind of peer review of social workers. In Annette Appell's article, I couldn't help but think that some of the social workers were motivated to make decisions more based on their own opinions and feelings towards their clients than any protocol. This isn't fair to the children, or the mothers, and needs to be addressed.

9

President Elect Obama,
Every day millions of people struggle to survive in America. Whether they are in the streets, in shelters, or even an apartment, people have to choose which necessities they should incorporate into their budget. Whether it is the food, clothing, shelter, or healthcare, the people of America deserve more- they shouldn’t have to choose. Many of those who suffer are mothers and children.
To change the current situation, I feel that it is important to change the stereotype of those receiving government aid. Often characterized as “lazy,? women below the poverty line are not struggling because they do not have a job; mothers are suffering because even with a full time job, the wages are so low, poverty is inevitable (Newman). In order to help mothers, we need to change the stereotype. Inform the citizens of America that those receive aid deserve it.
At this point, women are struggling to raise their children. When they go to receive aid, they are often classified as being “bad mothers.? Mothers who can not provide for their children. The government has no right to take away these women’s children because they are unable to care for them. Rather, the government should be giving means to support the mother and the child (Appell). The government should provide what the mother cannot afford. Anything from housing, food, even daycare. For if the mother can have her child at a daycare, she will have a better chance at finding a better paying job and making it on her own. When she can do this she will be a “good? mother again.

9 the blog

To President Barack Obama

Many people out there think, that poor people are lazy and that they can not do anything with out the help of government aid. But truly that is just a myth, which goes around. Poor (color) people have lack to education, transportation, and working. They don’t have the connection to all those, like upper and middle class people do. Especially poor mothers, who don’t have those connections and have to go through, working three jobs to support her kids and herself,. So if people out there see that, she does not do a good job supporting her family and think that she’s a bad mother, the child welfare system comes into play. Child welfare system supposedly is to help the family but, seems to look like; they are just making it harder for the mother. Kids are taken away from their bad mothers and the mothers are giving task to do to either get their kids back. If they don’t meet the task as it was asked, then her kids are being place in foster care. Many things go around about mothers who don’t meet these tasks that are set.
If they don’t do it properly their kids are taken a way. We need to have an understanding of what’s happing to people who are stuck in survival mode. This is a systemic problem that has to be deal with and not leave it alone. Every one needs a helping hand to get up from this individual problem. Is not because they’re lazy or just because they are not doing the exact task of being a good mother does not mean that they are “bad? or “stupid.? From my point of view, I think that if we were to see someone in that position, we need to step up and they too should also. Guide them to education that will link them through a good job. I know it may not be a good argument but just to put my thought out there. I know others will argue about my point, but that is just the way I feel.

November 15, 2008

Week Nine

Many of the things we can do for the working poor involve legislation. Because it is much cheaper for society to pay for communal needs than individuals, enacting things like universal health care and subsidized early childhood education and higher education increases families' disposible income, which provides more funds for saving and both keeps more people in the work force and allows access to higher paying jobs. Things that especially benefit single mothers and people are subsidized food, housing, health care, child care, and transportation (mothers are responsible for transporting their children and selves to work, school, and activities). In "No Shame In My Game: The Working Poor in the Inner City," Katherine Newman discusses various examples of creative initiatives that are location specific that target the working poor and help them build connections that open the doors to higher paying work, such as "Bridges to Work" that transports people from areas with few job opportunities to more wealthy areas. Systemitizing the movment of young people from school to work through programs in which teacher monitor students academic performance and set them up with jobs or in which students alternate between school and the work shop are also valuable in insuring the future of our young people and have extra positive side effect such as decreased teen pregnancy.

Blog Nine

Congratulations on winning the election. In regards to the economic troubles of the working poor, particularly poor working mothers, there is lots of work to be done. Part of the biggest problem is that poverty is a cycle that is difficult to get out of. People often times make the assumptions that this is because the poor are lazy and poor mothers are inadequate, while this is often not the case. Many of these mothers get caught by asking for help from the government (Appell). We should not reward them by taking away their children when they are trying to change. It is unfair to label a woman as a bad mother because she does not have the economic means to provide for her children what a good mother could.

A particularly useful book, “The Second Shift,? demonstrates how hard women usually work for their families. If opportunities are given for these women to earn money and care for their families, they will do it. A lot of the trouble is that there are no opportunities or opportunities with a definite ceiling in poor areas. Simply providing these people with money is not going to work, and it perpetuates the stereotype they are lazy. Instead, more work should be done to provide better education and employment opportunities in these areas. One possibility is taking the model of “education-to-work? school from Japan (What We Can Do for the Working Poor), which trains students to be good employees and hold a job. However, this should be a means to accessing more opportunities, not an end.

A big problem, in my opinion, is that our American system needs people to do the grunt work, and we are unwilling to provide opportunities for our grunt workers because we know that other positions are more desirable. But it is unfair for us to make these positions un-livable. When people cannot provide basic needs to their families, we cannot expect them to be good parents. More needs to be done to raise the standards of living in these impoverished areas in the United States, and we need to allow these people access to other options, should they choose to work towards them.

November 14, 2008

Blog 9

Dear President Elect Obama,

There are numerous things that can be done to help mothers rise above the poverty line. The reason that these numerous ideas and changes have not taken great effect is due to the assumption that the poor are lazy, crazy, do not even try to work hard to get simple food stamps. This, as I’m sure you’re aware of, is a huge stereotype that needs to be erased. In the book Nickel and Dimed Barbara Ehrenreich worked first hand with working class women below the poverty line. These women worked two to three jobs, while being pregnant just so they could survive. I and I am sure the majority of Americans would not ignore these women but help them if they just understood the world they live in. Therefore, I think it is first important to erase the stereotype and encourage the media to express the hard work and desperation of those in poverty. It is obvious that more funding, such as food stamps, WIC, healthcare, transportation, education, and safety need to be implemented to help – but we can only do so much with the budget we have. Therefore, we should not only look into government aid but also look into the private sector. According to “What We Can do for the Working Poor? the implementation of these private sectors into schools, and low wage companies allows those in poverty to move up into a job that pays more. A main point also is that businesses need to allow workers to move up, and it is also important for those in higher paying jobs to encourage and be references for those of lower pay to increase their job status. Not only do the workers move up the chain they are also very happy and actually can enjoy life instead of working 15 hour days without motivation (other than being able to survive).

Blog Nine Assignment Instructions

President Elect, Barack Obama, has recently learned that you are a scholar in a class that examines the intersection of gender, race, and class. He has sent a personal email request to you to help him think through economic strategies and policies that would benefit the working poor, and particularly, working poor mothers. Using your readings, including “On Fixing ‘Bad’ Mothers and Saving Their Children,? “What We Can do for the Working Poor,? and selections from The Second Shift, propose a solution that would help mothers who live below the poverty line gain greater access to the means necessary for social survival. You might want to start by demystifying the idea that the poor are “lazy? or that poor women are especially ill-equipped to be good mothers/productive citizens. You might even want to draw upon our earlier readings on power to suggest radical social change en masse. The format is up to you, but make sure that you cite at least one reading when constructing your response to him.