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Key senators would ban terms for kids like “at-risk”, “in poverty” and “disadvantaged”

Post by Peter Callaghan / The News Tribune on Jan. 4, 2010 at 4:16 pm with 12 Comments »
January 4, 2010 5:19 pm

I couldn’t make something like this up so I’ll just present it as filed.
Nine Democratic senators have filed a bill that would remove from state law any references to school kids that are considered negative.

Instead, all such references – such as at-risk, in-poverty and disadvantaged – would be replaced with the phrase “kids at-hope.” Prime sponsor is Sen. Rosa Franklin of Tacoma. Joining her are Claudia Kauffman of Kent, Rosemary McAuliffe of Seattle, Joe McDermott of Seattle, Debbie Regala of Tacoma, Karen Fraser of Olympia, Karen Keiser of Kent, Brian Hatfield of Raymond and Derek Kilmer of Gig Harbor.

The bill starts with a statement of policy and then goes on for 61 pages in order to amend all of the various and scattered use of the undesired terms.

Every child is unique–each has different interests, talents, skills, personalities, and each comes from a home with different cultures, socio-economic levels, and education levels.

The legislature finds that too often children are labeled in a negative
context because of these differences. Such negative labels can be
devastating to children by making them feel defeated and helpless about
what the negative label says about them. The use of negative labels
creates a self-fulfilling prophecy that many adults unconsciously

The legislature further finds that it needs to redesign the
negative labels, especially those labels that the state uses for
children. The legislature finds that instead of the negative labels
such as “at-risk,” “in-poverty,” “from-poverty,” and “disadvantaged,”
a positive characterization should be used.

Using a positive descriptor will help children to see themselves differently and help adults more accurately define a child’s capacity. If the state is
going to label these children then the state must label to enable the
children to have hope.

Leave a comment Comments → 12
  1. ldozy1234 says:

    Ok- so does spending all this legislative time and money to provide 61 pages of words to avoid negativity… promotes what? Making the senators and legislation feel more “positive” while they dismantle and destroy funding and programs that could help these kids? So if you call them “kids at-hope.” when you de-fund the programs does it make them feel less accountable?
    How much did this stupid bill and paperwork cost us? In this economy and with budget shortfalls, what scares me is these folks thought THIS was an important area to spend yet more $$ promoting “PC” verbage instead of spending the $$ physically on the kids programs that are closing due to lack of funds.
    What a joke!

  2. jimkingjr says:

    You can call them “at-risk” or “at-hope”- and all people like possum1 will see is “future sociopath and cop killer”, relegating all of these children to the lowest possible outcome. Changing the label does nothing to change the reality that 1) these children are “at-risk” but are not lost causes, but 2) no matter the label, some will offer them no hope.

    “At-risk”, “in poverty”, and “disadvantaged” are not negative labels- they are real descriptors. Better that we accept the reality and do something about it, rather than try to hide the reality and pretend we’ve solved the problem.

  3. the3rdpigshouse says:

    Somebody tell these 9 useless State legislature types that the people want performance on improving the economy and reducing spending!!!

    Wake up electorate and vote these 9 losers out of office!!!

  4. ldozy1234 says:

    Can you see it now..
    Case worker to little Johnny
    “Gee little Johnny, I know your hungry and live in a car with your parents and theres no programs that help but remember… your a “child at hope”

    Officer to parents of repetitive teen runaway ” well folks, there’s not a lot I can recommend but remember your child is a “child at hope”…”

  5. DrWernerKlopek says:

    Stupid. But since we are at it. Fat or overweight people do not worry we will dub thee horizontally figured individuals of hope. Homeless and transients are citizens of hope. Unemployed newspaper journalists are seekers of hope.

    A question: If someone uses the former terminology of “disadvantaged youth” or “in poverty” will there be fines and stiff penalties? A jail sentence for using the wrong words? Clearly Washington State Legislators have too much free time and are getting paid too much for it.

  6. logicmonster says:

    Not only would this law be ultimately ineffective (the new term would quickly become viewed as pejorative), the very concept races right past Political Correctness and into a ridiculous attempt at thought policing.

    Please, Senators, you have a full plate this session. Leave this dangerous/silly idea at home.

  7. kmortland says:

    OK…..??? And what will the legislation used to fund services for these students use to identify them? Are they now to be designated as “those who shall not be described?”

    Sorry, this bill is classic liberal legislative nonsense.

  8. derekyoung says:

    Peter, this is worth some clarification. The “Kids at Hope” movement is actually a national organization particularly connected to the Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCA, and other youth oriented groups. I came across it at our new club in Gig Harbor. There’s a bunch of programmatic stuff on that end (the kids take a pledge, set goals, are held accountable, etc) but they also strive to take the excuses out of the equation. In fact “No Excuses” seems to be their catch phrase. No more “I failed because I’m disadvantaged.” Across the country they are asking legislatures to stop using that kind of language because they are asking the kids to do the same.

    Anyway, I can understand how it sounds a little goofy, but there is a logic to it.

    Here’s some more info: http://www.kidsathope.org/

  9. ldozy1234 says:

    While I applaud the concept IMO the flaw in logic is by ANY label you begin the excuse. Why aren’t they just identified as kids?
    I have never heard a child identify themselves as disadvantaged, at risk, etc nor would think the term at hope would become their catch phrase either. Their behavior, health or living condition is whats identified by the adults and no matter what phrase is used ,its only to clarify to Adults ( essentially the system) and make their paperwork easier.
    Thats the fault… when they stop being looked at simply as individual kids and conveniently labeled with whatever PC correct word -it allows them to be compartmentalized, statistical identities and no longer a breathing human.
    I believe we train them to become the excuse by labeling, depersonalizing them via the systemic PC verbiage and disadvantage many by the compartmentalization.
    This money for the legislation would have been better spent removing all the “PC label of the month” and funding the “No Excuses” program.

  10. ldozy1234 says:

    But then again, isn’t it funny how those in most need generate such a business system?
    I just checked out the site and yes, it sounds fine but then begin to look at what cost “embracing” this new PC verbiage ideology incurs to implement.

    Module I Training (Module I Certificate in Hopeology – 4 hour introductory session )
    $50.00 per participant
    Module II Training(Module II Diploma in Treasure Hunting – 4 hour session )
    $50.00 per participant
    Training of the Trainers(Proprietary Training-Train the Trainers Certification Academy )
    $175.00 per participant
    Parent Training
    $30.00 per participant
    Parent Training of the Trainers
    $175.00 per participant
    One Week Master’s Institute
    Tuition $1,500.00

  11. logicmonster says:


    The fact that this is a national coordinated effort to change the way that these children are referred to is all well and good – but do we really need to legislate what they can be called? That seems way over the top.

    Better to change people’s minds by the persuasion of sound logic than to mandate it by force of law.

  12. Yet one more way to waste taxpayer money while failing to actually solve real problems we citizens can FEEL (see http://www.pnwlocalnews.com/kitsap/poi/opinion/81004842.html).

    NOW we must waste more time and money we don’t have on legislation that dictates how best, precisely, to be politically correct – is this right?! You gotta be kidding me.

    It seems politicians are only interested in one thing – their image. I’m afraid we citizens can no longer afford to indulge this little addiction anymore, as we have got FAR more serious concerns, going forward, than keeping up appearances.

    If any politician reads this, I hope it is helpful that I am willing to be so very politically incorrect – very direct. I seriously hope it makes a positive impact:

    FYI, in the eyes of the people, time and money are in painfully obvious SHORT supply. In our view, politicians are wasting our precious resources; spending us and SPINNING us off into an economic death spiral. To be plain: the “G Whiz! Forces” aren’t helping to do anything but to further take us all down.

    It’s time to get a steady grip – to get down to brass tacks, as my dad used to say. If he were here today, he’d put it to you with a hard look and say, “These kids are NOT going to be any LESS BROKE if we keep wasting good taxpayer money after bad like this.”

    Hands down, this is a lose-lose piece of legislation – taxpayers lose and the kids lose, too). Why not save us ALL the wasted resources – better to donate directly to the POOR, AT RISK, BROKE, DISADVANTAGED KIDS in our state than to waste MORE money creating legislation like this.

    Again, in the hopes of opening some of the eyes of our politicians, perhaps it would help to make it clear that we average citizens are watching ACTIONS now. Actions are everything. For those who think getting us to focus on this kind of legislation makes politicians like they actually CARE, I hate to be the voice to burst their bubble…but…it doesn’t exactly take a brain surgeon to process the simple truth that this wasteful act alone SHOWS us that they absolutely DO NOT GET IT.

    Heaven help us, one and all…!

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