Friday, April 04, 2003

You Have To Read Past The Jump

In newspaper parlance, the "jump" is the point where a story ends on one page and continues on another. In the Commercial Appeal it's marked by something like "See DAY CARE, B2." Many papers will try to compress the most important parts, or the parts they most want you to remember, into the first page. The "jump" part will then have the details, or in the case of uncomfortable news, the parts the paper hopes you won't read. That's because many people don't read past the jump.

In this story on Tennessee day care reforms, reading past the jump will net you some interesting reading. The story is by the CA's attack dog, Marq Perrusquia, the "go to" guy for in-depth, detailed, research intensive articles that nail their subjects.

In this case, he's overkill. The story goes to various day care workers and operators to get their viewpoint on the reforms, which are unsurprisingly supportive of the CA's story.

I've blogged on this before. I think the reforms are just more government, driven by fear and outrage at the fiscal mismanagement of day cares and brokers, and the deaths of six children in recent years. While saving children's lives is admirable, the reforms will merely add to costs and drive more families into non-day care alternatives like the "Auntie Mabel's house" option. Quoting from one day care operator: "It's costly. But how much more costly is a child's life?'' This way madness lies, of course. We can spend completely unrealistic sums and have a system in which no children are in danger of injury, and will be properly watched over by trained professionals. Of course, that'll be prohibitively expensive. Read the story for those details.

But in the middle of all this, I found:
The report found plenty of blame, starting with the tragic history of Tennessee's day care system.

With little oversight, hundreds of privately run but publicly funded day care operations sprouted following passage of the 1996 welfare reform law that pushed numbers of Tennesseans to work.

Many centers, notably several in Memphis, were driven "solely by greed,'' the report said, showing little concern for children as they vied for a cut of state subsidies, which exceeded $87 million last year in Shelby County. we find some meat! Providing for more inspectors would be much cheaper and produce immediate results all around. As for greed, that I'm afraid is endemic to Memphis' relations to any government entity handing out money. Especially when State Senator John Ford is in your corner.
Two years earlier, owner Camelia Gibson ran the center as Grand Central Station Child Development Center before federal agents shut it down as an illegal money counterfeiting operation. Gib son then leased the site to Sandra Gordon, who reopened it as Tippy Toes.

Gibson, 43, and Gordon, 31, were charged last month with four counts of reckless homicide. Prosecutors allege the women took an unjustifiable risk when they hired Hudson, a known drug user who often nodded off behind the wheel.

Hudson pleaded guilty in 2000 to possession of marijuana after police pulled him over for running a stop sign.
Hudson "often nodded off at the wheel?" This implies a lot of people knew. And if that's true, the problem is people who "go along to get along." When the owners and operators and workers aren't virtuous people, why should we believe that new laws will make them so? Why shouldn't we believe these same people will help whoever needs to pass a drug test to do whatever he needs to?

An enterprising group of parents might make some racket with a lawsuit against the State for lax oversight. That would shake up some people, and you'd see some action, fast.

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