Poverty on the Navajo Nation

In a previous post, I briefly discussed the “third world nation” status of the Navajo Nation (NN). This was primarily due to the poverty issues they face.  Yet the NN received millions of federal and state funds – enough to distribute non-trivial monthly checks to each family living on the “Rez.”  On the other hand, citizens of the Navajo Nation:
  • do not pay federal or state taxes.
  • do not pay to register and license their vehicles
  • do not pay real estate taxes
  • rarely have house payments
  • never have to pay for land, since no one owns the land (yet every family has an allotment of land)
  • rarely have credit cards, so their debt load is minimal, usually a vehicle payment
  • receive free medical, dental, and eye care
  • much of their education is paid for by the tribe via workforce development or other social agencies.

How can one explain the ironies of monthly checks, incredible tax breaks and other government provision, and persistent poverty?  Government Dependency is an insidious thing.

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Teaching in the Public School

Two quotes:

“Teachers face an impossible task of truly educating students in a world where traditional support of their efforts by administrators and parents has evaporated.  Those young people who are entering or thinking about entering the teaching profession should think about taking lessons on how to be a magician because navigating the sea of expectations they are about to enter is fraught with distraction and misdirection.” – Alan Stocker

“…although [I] am aware I could not withstand the crushing workload and confinement of high school teaching in this country.” – Milan Kovacovic, college professor

At the school where I teach, lack of administrator and parent support and unrealistic expectations loom large.  The workload for teachers is indeed overwhelming.  Teachers are treated as employees, not professionals.  Even worse, to me, is the lack of discipline.

In addition, the great majority of students lack self-discipline and positive role models.  I felt incompetent most of last semester.  A fellow teacher, at least as old as me and a 9-year veteran just at this high school, told me recently that she felt incompetent (something new for her).  And a veteran administrator (principal) also told me a few weeks ago, “Sometimes I just feel so incompetent!”  The current systems promote this feeling of incompetency.  The public school environment is unhealthy for teachers.  We need a revolution in public schools!

Government Dependency

“”Todd’s family had worked hard to escape a rut that some find themselves in when faced with harsh conditions.  They saw that when government programs started growing, sometimes citizens became dependent on the programs and abandoned the strong work ethic of their elders.  This resulted in too many young people giving themselves over to a dependent lifestyle that often leads to fractured families, abuse, subpar education, and other problems.” – Sarah Palin referring to her Native American husband, Todd.

Working and living on the Navajo Nation the past year has confirmed Todd Palin’s observation.  I’ve also seen it on the nearby Hopi Reservation, and I saw it on the Alabama-Coushatta Reservation when I worked with them several years ago.

Is the same thing happening to the U.S. general population?  Hmmm.