The recent International Labor Organization study proves that the U.S. is one of three nations on the planet that does not provide some kind of monetary payment to new mothers who’ve taken maternity leave from work.  America also provides the least amount of maternity leave among the industrialized (and many emerging and third world) nations.

That is what we think of children in America.  New Zealand and Norway provide up to 14 weeks of paid leave, and 70 nations provide paid leave for fathers.  179 other nations provide at least some paid leave for new moms and a growing number are giving the same benefit to dads.  The rest of the world has realized that healthy families raise healthy children and that healthy children become productive members of their community.  We seem to think that building more prisons will work just as well.

In America, we pay our daycare workers what we pay food service workers (the lowest paid people in the nation) and have almost no requirements for education or training for the difficult and important task of raising our youngest citizens.  We also expel more children from daycare than any other nation.

The reason 26% of our high school graduates perform proficiently at math, and 38% can read at proficiently is that they were not ready for school when they started school.  This also explains why the U.S. spends twice as much per student as smarter nations to get such dismal results on test scores and graduation rates.

25% of american juveniles are tried in adult courts (unheard of in other industrialized nations) and no other industrialized nation has the rate of incarceration, crime, or violence as does ours.  Our criminal justice recidivism rates have reached 70%.  We also lead the world in sexually transmitted disease among youth.

As a long time volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem, I believe that the lack of support for young families goes a long way towards explaining the six million children reported to child protection services in this nation each year as well as why schools fail, streets are unsafe, and prisons are so full.

There are many states that provide almost no support for poor children in this country.


From Mcclatchy News;

U.S. alone among Western countries on lack of paid maternity leave, UN finds


McClatchy Foreign StaffMay 13, 2014


A baby cradled in his mother’s arms.

KAREN SCHIELY — Akron Beacon Journal/MCT

GENEVA — The United States is the only Western country _ and one of only three in the world _ that does not provide some kind of monetary payment to new mothers who’ve taken maternity leave from their jobs, a new U.N. study reports.

Two other countries share the U.S. position of providing “no cash benefits during maternity leave,” according to the report, which was released Tuesday by the International Labor Organization: Oman, an absolute monarchy in the Persian Gulf; and Papua New Guinea, a South Pacific nation where the U.S. State Department says violence against women is so common that 60 percent of men in a U.N. study acknowledged having committed a rape.

The other 182 countries surveyed provide either a Social Security-like government payment to women who’ve recently given birth or adopted a child or require employers to continue at least a percentage of the worker’s pay. In 70 countries, paid leave is also provided for fathers, the report said, including Australia, which introduced 14 days of paid paternity leave last year, and Norway, which expanded its paternity leave from 12 to 14 weeks.

The United States also provides for fewer weeks of maternity leave than what other Western countries mandate, the report said.

Under U.S. law, businesses are required to allow a new mother to take as many as 12 weeks of unpaid leave. In New Zealand, the leave is 14 weeks; in Australia, it’s 18 weeks. Switzerland has allowed women workers to take 18 weeks off since 2005; they’re paid 80 percent of their salaries under a government program similar to Social Security in the United States.

Government provides the payments in most the surveyed countries, the International Labor Organization said, with 107 nations making cash benefits available through their national social security plans. In 45 countries, the benefits are paid solely by employers, while in 30 countries employers and social security plans bear the costs.

The International Labor Organization, which has promoted better working conditions since it became the U.N.’s first specialized agency in 1946, said it prefers leave mandates that do not saddle individual companies with the cost, saying such requirements hurt businesses and potentially lead to bias against hiring women.

Germany, Europe’s largest economy, requires that mothers receive 14 weeks leave at full pay through a combination of government and employer payments. In Great Britain, a new mother is allowed to take a full year off, the report said, with payments during the first six weeks totaling 90 percent of her salary. After that, the payments are set at the equivalent of $232 per week or 90 percent of pay, whichever is less, for the next 33 weeks. The final 13 weeks of the leave are unpaid.

The report held out the prospect that the United States might one day join the rest of the world through the proposed Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act of 2013, which would establish a national paid family leave insurance program to provide 12 weeks of paid leave to recover from childbirth, serious illness, care for a sick family member, or to bond with a new baby. The legislation was introduced in December by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and has 87 sponsors, but its prospects are uncertain in the Republican-dominated House of Representatives.


Despite what the report described as positive movement over the last two decades in maternity leave policies around the world, the report found that financial support provided in half the countries was “neither financially adequate nor sufficiently long lasting.” It said that 830 million women workers “are not adequately covered in practice, mainly in developing countries.”

Laura Addati, a maternal protection specialist for the International Labor Organization, said that 98 countries worldwide met the organization’s standard of 14 weeks leave and that 74 countries met the standard of providing cash benefits of at least two-thirds of earnings during that time.

The report noted that five U.S. states mandate paid maternity leave _ California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island. It said that about 12 percent of women workers in the United States are entitled to mandated paid maternity leave.

“In order to have gender equality, you must have maternity protection,” said Shauna Olney, chief of the International Labor Organization’s gender, equality and diversity branch.

Zarocostas is a McClatchy special correspondent.

Read more here:


From Time;

High School Seniors Lagging in Math and Reading, Report Card Shows

New federal education data shows record high school graduation rates haven’t translated into higher achievement in math and reading. The Nation’s Report Card revealed that between 2009 and 2013, students made no significant progress in math or reading

High school seniors haven’t made progress in math and reading achievement levels in recent years, according to a new report, a sobering counter to recent data that showed U.S. graduation ratesreaching the highest levels in decades in 2013.

The latest National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the Nation’s Report Card, shows that 12th graders in public schools stagnated in reading and in math in 2013. Between 2009 and 2013, students made no significant progress in math or reading, according to the report—in fact, 12th graders in 2013 performed a bit worse in reading when compared to students taking the first assessment in 1992. About 26% of high school seniors perform at or above “proficient” levels in math, meaning they grasp challenging concepts. In reading, about 38% perform at or above proficient, two percentage points less than students in 1992.

“Despite the highest high school graduation rate in our history, and despite growth in student achievement over time in elementary school and middle school, student achievement at the high school level has been flat in recent years,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement.

Between 2005 and 2013, African-American students’ math scores jumped by five points and white students saw their scores go up by four points. Asian/Pacific Islander students and Hispanic students experienced the highest gains, with math scores increasing by 10 and seven points, respectively. Yet achievement gaps persist between racial groups and genders. Boys scored an average of three points higher than girls in math, and girls scored about 10 points higher in reading than boys. Whites scored 30 points higher than blacks in math and 21 points than Hispanic students. In reading, whites scored 30 points higher than blacks and 22 points higher than Hispanics.

“We project that our nation’s public schools will become majority-minority this fall—making it even more urgent to put renewed attention into the academic rigor and equity of course offerings and into efforts to redesign high schools,” Duncan said.

Students who reported discussing reading material every day or once or twice a week in class scored higher than those who reported discussing reading material only sporadically. In math, 50% of the highest performers had taken a calculus course and 58% of those who scored the lowest had only taken up to Algebra 2.