June 19, 2019

AFF Community

Weekly Writers Round-Up: Hopeless Afghan Conflicts, Failing Rural Healthcare, and Rethinking Education Funding

By: Hallie Drew

Each week, we’ll be featuring opinion pieces from the alumni and current participants of AFF’s Writing Fellows Program. A few highlights from the past week are below. For more information on how the program can help launch your career in writing, see here.

An impossible situation in Afghanistan by Jerrod Laber (Fall 2017) in The Washington Times
In Afghanistan, America is stuck between a rock and a hard place. U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is currently on a 17-day world tour, trying to shore up support for peace talks with the Taliban. Despite all of the challenges of peace negotiations, he has inspired some hope that nearly four decades of fighting might actually end (Afghanistan has been embroiled in civil war since the Soviet occupation of the 1980s)…

Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders Claims to Love ‘Economic Freedom’ by Billy Binion (Spring 2018) in Reason
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) made his case for democratic socialism yesterday in a speech at George Washington University and an interview on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360. Among other things, he called for a “21st Century Economic Bill of Rights” that guarantees “a decent job that pays a living wage,” “quality health care,” “a complete education,” “affordable housing,” “a clean environment,” and “a secure retirement.”

Sanders, who is vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, pitched his policies as the only means to “achieving political and economic freedom in every community…

Missouri and Kansas could do more for rural residents’ health care needs by Sam Peak (Spring 2018) in Kansas City Star
Lack of access to health care is a worrying issue nationwide, but it’s even more dire in rural areas. Last December’s closure of the hospital in Fort Scott, Kansas, is just part of a larger pattern of rural hospitals shutting their doors for good over the past decade. This hurts local economies, and, even more importantly, threatens health care access for people living in the countryside. State governments have an obligation to keep this from happening, and they can — without much effort.

One of the causes of declining rural health care access is hospital consolidation. The number of hospitals has declined dramatically over the past decade, and a focus on larger hospitals means that it doesn’t make sense for hospitals to open in sparsely populated areas. Government regulations are partly responsible for this trend…

To Ensure Equitable Funding for Low-Income Students, Fixing Title I Isn’t Good Enough — It Needs to Be Rebuilt From Scratch by Christian Barnard (Spring 2019) in The 74
The National Center for Education Statistics just published a report on the federal government’s largest K-12 education program: Title I. First implemented in 1965, Title I has always been intended to provide additional supports for low-income schoolchildren across the nation. In Fiscal Year 2015, the year on which the new analysis is based, Title I was a $14.3 billion program divided among four major grants. In the 54 years since its inception, the program has grown substantially and developed a dizzyingly complex funding mechanism that poses serious equity concerns for America’s poor children.

The report, commissioned explicitly by a 2015 federal statute, provides data-backed insights as to how Title I’s complicated, antiquated formulas are dispersing dollars to school districts and analyzes how various changes to the existing formulas would distribute dollars differently. The report reveals that nearly every formula feature has the effect of funding poor students differently based on where they live — and that even removing all of those provisions doesn’t go far enough toward treating all poor students equally. There’s no way around it: Title I needs a complete overhaul…