By Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director
Sunday’s Washington Post featured a compelling – and sad – story that reaffirms NCL’s concerns about farmworker kids. In “A Harvest of Reduced Expectations,” by reporter Kevin Sieff, the youngsters interviewed describe constantly moving from town to town during the school year – following their farmworker parents, showing up at new schools in the middle of the year, and failing to enjoy any continuity in their education. As a result, many drop out.
One teenage girl talked about living in farmworker’s quarters, which are typically run down and lacking in the niceties so many of today’s teens take for granted – a good bed, a desk on which to do homework, regular hours for meals and bedtimes. One boy is pictured sitting on his bed reading over his homework; he has no desk and lives in a threadbare makeshift living quarters.
But most troubling in the teenage girl’s story is that though she is glad to be able to be with her father and take care of her siblings, she is often surrounded by farmworkers who are NOT there with their wives and families. During the weekends many of these men bring prostitutes back to the quarters where these children live.
Reid Maki at NCL has worked tirelessly with the other members of the Child Labor Coalition, which NCL co-chairs, to gain passage of the CARE Act, which will help to get farmworker kids out of the fields and in school full-time. This Washington Post article is particularly well headlined: A Harvest of Reduced Expectations; the piece does a great job of shining a light on the substandard and unacceptable living conditions of so many farmworkers – and their kids. Let’s pass CARE and get these kids into schools where they will be learning on a continuous basis and not exposed to a world that is hardly fit for adults, let alone children.