July 19, 2006

On compromises and bedfellows

A cautionary tale today in the NYTimes today on how federal abstinence-only sex education mandates warp state policymaking. Here is where the Clinton-era Welfare Reform Act in 1996 shows the worst side of political compromises: because the 1996 act created federal support for abstinence-only sex education as a categorical program, it created a foothold for the exclusion of comprehensive sex education (where you tell the teens not to have sex then, why not to have sex then, how to resist pressures for sex, and also give them information about contraceptives and disease prevention).

That doesn't mean that compromises are always bad. Far from it. But Clinton's signing the welfare reform act was done for the worst reason (an unnecessary political calculation), and because of that, a bunch of bad things were included in that bill. The other really bad part of the law is the inability to follow up on families and children cut out of support. So we cannot say with certainty whether the so-called welfare reform actually improved people's lives on balance!

Listen to this article
Posted in Education policy on July 19, 2006 10:12 AM |