(Leave it to the foreign press to intelligently unravel the alarmist and unfounded responses to the unaccompanied minors - The Guardian has an excellent article methodically debunking 5 immigration myths. Don't miss it.)
For me, the important question is indeed what the f..k is wrong with people who can muster up such venom and disgust toward migrant children? Just who were those unpleasant folks in Oracle, Arizona yelling at the bus of children?
Unfortunately, the answer may have just been revealed: Arizona doesn't seem to care much for children. Nope. The Annie E Casey Foundation's 2014 KIDS COUNT Report shows that when it comes to the well-being of children, Arizona remains among the worst 5 states, in the company of Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Nevada. Its failings in education are astounding: only a third of Arizona's children attend preschool; most (72%) fourth graders are not proficient in reading; and most (69%) eight graders are not proficient in math. Social and economic challenges abound as 27% of children live in poverty; 38% live in single parent households; and 13% lack health insurance.
These findings are not surprising, given the blatant disregard for children in statewide and local politics here in Arizona. Shame on them. Some highlights (actually, lowlights) include:
- Recently, the courts were forced to reinstate voter-approved funding adjustments for public schools. State lawmakers continued to insist that education costs were not a priority and had stridently refused to pay up.
- Arizona's per-pupil spending is the lowest in the nation, and barely half of those dollars are spent at the classroom level in public schools.
- Inexcusable deficiencies in Child Protective Services were revealed in the past year, leading to investigations, legislation, and funding of a new Department of Child Safety. But, how did we get here in the first place? Why did the State not care enough to have sufficient oversight and resources to prevent such problems? And, why do we have so many children in need of protective services?
- The State legislature continues to waste funds on frivolous lawsuits, particularly by passing infantile legislation that leads directly to court challenges. They'd rather spend money playing games than investing in the future of our children.
- State legislators continue to propose, and often pass, bills that favor expanded gun rights over the safety of children (and just plain common sense).
- Arizona maintains a tax structure that cannot generate sufficient funds for much of anything. It protects business interests, and a growing number of migrant retirees who provide neither their fair share of taxes nor much interest in supporting the next generations in Arizona.
"KIDS COUNT" is an important effort by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, focused on the growing pillars of our future. The State of Arizona appears committed to proving that here, kids actually don't count. We must ensure that this changes with the 2014 election. Kids really, really do count. Everyone knows that, don't they?