July 2013 Wrap up
Welcome to my monthly Policy Round Up where I bring you the policy news highlights from the past month.
July has been packed with interesting and thought-provoking articles and research. Here’s my round up of top reading this month, roaming across continents, disciplines and issues.
1. A quick and thought-provoking blog from Karl Wilding at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, responding to the recent New York Times op-ed by Peter Buffet that claimed philanthropy is often no more than “conscience-laundering” for capitalists. Wilding pushes back a bit on Buffett’s criticisms of “a charitable-industrial complex”, but concedes that a philanthropy that exists for private benefit is an ever-present danger. After reading this, be sure to scroll down to the comments, in particular, Nick Wilson Young’s. You can also check out Michael Green’s scathing response at philanthrocapitalism.net.
2. A great article (whether you agree with him or not) by Professor Danny Dorling contending that the UK educational system is based on an assumption that a minority of children have abilities which should be nurtured, and the majority of children are at school simply to be “maintained”. He is scathing about the coming curriculum changes, and about political interference into what is taught in schools. He claims the effect of this assumption “has resulted in more young adults today being deemed to be economically useless, unemployed and socially discarded than at any point in European history”.
3. Remember “crack babies”, and how they were doomed? Now you can read about the final results from the famous 23-year Philadelphia study into outcomes or babies born to mothers who had used significant amounts of crack cocaine during pregnancy. The researchers found, early in the study, that while there were small developmental differences between babies born to crack-using mothers, and the low-income control group babies, these paled into insignificance compared to the developmental gaps between both these groups, and their well-off peers. The Principal Researcher concluded that “Poverty is a more powerful influence on the outcome of inner-city children than gestational exposure to cocaine”. No word on whether official advice to expectant mothers will change from “Don’t do drugs” to “Don’t be poor”.
4. This All Party Parliamentary Group report into the future direction of Sure Start is chock-full of good, and realistic ideas, on how to reverse the “hollowing-out” happening in many of the 3500 Children’s Centres, and turn them into really useful hubs to boost child development.
I’ll be back in touch next month, with a summary of the top articles, news and research. Until then.