Dick Mendel

Recent Articles

Don't Forget the Men

Why has helping the single, childless workers become the darling of poverty policy?

(iStockphoto)
When we think of reducing poverty and breaking its multigenerational cycle, we tend to think of poor families with children, in particular families headed by a single parent facing staggering challenges in finding both the time and income to provide a stable home. But there is a growing interest in an innovation that would help break the cycle of poverty by supporting a different population: low-wage workers without children, primarily noncustodial fathers and men without children. Doubling the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for these workers would help them, in turn, either support their children or build a stronger economic base for their families in the future. The EITC has for decades enjoyed broad support from Republicans (who like that it rewards work) as well as Democrats (who like that it subsidizes the poor). It is the nation's largest anti-poverty program by far, providing $44 billion to low-wage workers last year. But 98 percent of that amount goes to families with kids...

Leave No Parent Behind

Forty years ago, as Marian Wright Edelman and her fellow pioneers at the Child Development Group of Mississippi were organizing sharecroppers, fending off Jim Crow, and cobbling together a model for the nation's Head Start program, Betty Hart and Todd Risley were up in Kansas City working on an early childhood program of their own. First, Hart and Risley designed a state-of-the-art preschool curriculum for children at the Turner House in Kansas City's impoverished Juniper Gardens neighborhood. The children made rapid progress, but when they were tested a year later, their vocabularies again lagged far behind those of better-off children. Hart and Risley tried other teaching strategies: an Afrocentric approach, field trips, structured discussions to help children integrate new experiences into their daily conversation. These efforts failed, too. So Hart and Risley delved deeper into children's lives. For more than two years, the professors and their team paid monthly visits to 42...