[Hpn] Pappas School's funding is saved; Re: school segregation;homelessness

Jason Albertson blakjak@attglobal.net
Fri, 15 Jun 2001 08:50:42 -0700

I think, and have thought that there is a difficult question here, in
regards to the Pappas school and similar school-based efforts.

In health care,
The Federal government is just starting to realize that setting up
completely separate systems of care for homeless people has a couple of
un-intended effects. The first is that it lets the existent providers
off the hook--by declaring homeless folks a 'speciality' population, or
'hard to serve', requiring specialty clinics and providers, the existent
providers never work to develop the skills to serve homeless folks. This
is not good. The second un-intended effect is the growth of a second
system of care that requires a dedicated funding stream, rather than
being able to utilize the multiple funding streams already in existence.
This means that the secondary system of care is vulnerable to
legislative cuts in ways that, oh, say Medi-Care funded or Medi-Caid
funded programs are not. The third un-intended effect is the continued
ghettoziation of homeless people, again, as hard to serve instead of
admitting homeless folks more into the mainstream. The waiting rooms of
clinics which are set up to serve homeless folks--and do it well in some
cases--become mono-chromatic. Of course, it's easier on the social
workers because if all you clinic clients are homeless, you can organize
there, you can get better at finding people housing, helping them find
housing and the doctors develop  an appreciation of what homeless folks
need. So people might end up getting served better--but they are off to
one side, instead of in the main light, and their needs don't get seen
except by a small group.

I think the same problems and theory applies to homeless schools. There
are arguments that a school for homeless kids works better than
mainstreaming, that the continuity of education is the reason for the
segregation. Just like the medical clinics. Overall, though, I wonder,
we will set home medical clinics for homeless folks, schools for
homeless folks, housing for homeless folks and thus complete the ghetto,
requiring nobody who is not 'experienced with the needs of this
population' to serve them, and taking the folks who need and use these
services farther and farther from the eye of the public--as well as not
helping homeless folks to try to make their needs known to the larger
society, which I think is damn important.

So it's a conundrum. What I am thinking is that the resources which go
into that Pappas homeless school need to not go to bricks and mortar
buildings and teachers, but rather be tied to the condition of
homelessness for kids. So that if a kid becomes homeless, their school
would keep them, which would ensure continuity, and the dollars which
are needed to support a youth who has become homeless in school would
stay in his/her community, at his school. So you'd pay a school with a
homeless youth more than a school without a homeless youth enrolled.
It's special funding for special needs, rather than a special
(segregated) program for special needs.

We do this already of course for folks with learning disabilities. Why
don't we do it for folks with housing disabilities?

What do you think?