How do kids of minimum wage workers learn to drive? When I was a kid in New Jersey, driver's ed was a required course in high school, with no extra cost to my parents. Now, in Middleton High School, driver's ed is a separate, privately taught class after school, that costs $400 for in class work plus six hours on the road. After that, parents are told to teach their kid on their own. Thirty hours worth of driving, including six hours at night. Imagine, then, a minimum wage worker, probably working more than one job, probably commuting by bus to each job, adding time, money, and stress to her day. She gets home from her jobs, late, and first has to feed the kids. Then, she has to muster the time, energy, and gas money to take her daughter out driving for an hour. Assuming she even has a car. And can afford the insurance. Seems awfully daunting to me. This musing was occasioned by my husband taking my son out driving last night - another adventure!
Yesterday, I attended the Poverty Summit sponsored by the Wisconsin Council of Churches, the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, Citizen Action Wisconsin, and WISDOM. It was energizing to be among 125 clergy, activists, and community leaders, all of whom care deeply about social and economic injustice.
Robert Kraig of Citizen Action WI and Jon Peacock of WCCF shared a PowerPoint presentation showing the growth in poverty and economic inequality and the devastating effects this has on children. One of the most striking pieces of information was the finding that children born into poverty show significantly less grey matter in their brains than more affluent children. How can our society expect people to pull themselves by the bootstraps when the very circumstances they are born into give them a deficit to begin with? I had the opportunity to share information with the participants on the Minimum Wage Challenge (starting Sunday! Sign up at http://wisconsinfaithvoicesforjustice.weebly.com/minimum-wage-challenge.html) and our upcoming Why Poverty? Economic Justice film festival (http://wisconsinfaithvoicesforjustice.weebly.com/).
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