Wednesday, 08 July 2015 00:00

Poverty Rates in American School Districts

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Dr. Michael Omidi discusses a new map which highlights the poverty rates in every school district throughout America.

It has been commonly known that where a child lives, greatly impacts their educational experience. Now a new map reveals the rate of poverty in a given school district throughout the United States. Today, we'll review the map and discuss the implications it has.

The map titled, “Dividing Lines: School District Borders in the Unites States,” was complied by edbuild. It shows the more than 13,000 school districts throughout the US. Districts are color coded based on the percentage of poverty within it.

What's shocking is that some of our nation's school districts have over 40% of their students living below the poverty line. These are districts coded in dark red. The map also discusses how schools are zoned and how more affluent neighborhoods have an advantage since much of the funding raised for public schools comes from property taxes.

Some of the schools highlighted show how some schools were purposefully zoned to keep socioeconomic classes divided. One such is that of Spencer-Sharpless School District in Ohio which was originally drawn in 1948. By 1960 the area was heavily underfunded and many school districts refused to join. By 1980 all schools within the Spencer-Sharpless boundaries were formerly closed.

Since the great recession as the map points out, areas in concentrated poverty have doubled. In total, 495 school districts are living in deep poverty. That means over 40% or more of their population is living under the poverty line. With all this information, then what is the repercussions?

Many of these schools will be underfunded and thus have less resources for things like books, extracurriculars and other vital programs for a child's develop. This means that these students won't be only economically disadvantaged but most likely academically disadvantaged. Without going on to higher education, these students will most likely perpetuate the poverty they grew up in.

Is there an easy solution? The answer is no. Much has to be done to reform these failing districts in order to potentially bring these students towards an equal education as those living in more affluent areas. It is up to our policy makers to make the tough decisions to reform these schools to help the future generations of America.

Yours in health,

Michael Omidi

Dr. Michael Omidi is the co-founder of No More Poverty a nonprofit that works to reduce the impact of poverty in America and throughout the world.

Wednesday, 01 July 2015 22:08

Education: The Key to Eliminating Poverty

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Dr. Michael Omidi is a co-founder of several charities, including No More Poverty. Today he discusses why we should care less about test scores and more about the tools necessary for success.

The state of education in the U.S. is disappointing, to say the least. The statistics are dismal: 40% of children who live in impoverished communities aren’t prepared for primary schooling, and later on are more likely to skip or leave school altogether in order to find work or care for family members. The current high school graduation rate brings us all the way down to #22 out of 27 industrialized nations. Countless studies have shown us that education is a necessary means to break the cycle of poverty. But here’s the catch: poverty also determines quality and duration of education. And a good education is almost unattainable for children living in poverty. So why does the U.S. continue to brush this issue aside, and why has this been happening for decades?

The problem lies with the inordinate emphasis placed on test scores, which some blame on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as No Child Left Behind. Public schools must show decent standardized testing results in order to receive funding from the Department of Education. As a result, the focus remains not on the children, but instead on a one-sized-fits-all style of testing that does not adequately measure intelligence by any stretch of the imagination. This has only proved to be a recipe for disaster, with teachers becoming more demoralized and even cynical as they struggle to balance federal demands with the desire to provide their students with an enriching education. Another contributing factor is that school aid continues to be distributed unequally between districts in relation to their comparative financial needs.

In order for children to become well-rounded adults, it is imperative for them to learn the interpersonal skills and coping mechanisms that will prove most valuable in every aspect of their lives. Providing children with ways to deal with stress and social demands-- skills that they may not have learned at home-- is proven to improve behavior, increase the ability to be independent, and lead to empowerment. The solution cannot be found in cold, hard numbers. It’s more about helping our students become rational, competent, and healthy in body and mind.

Bill Milliken, founder of non-profit Communities In Schools, captures this idea eloquently: “it is relationships, not programs, that change children. A great program simply creates the environment for healthy relationships to form between adults and children. Young people thrive when adults care about them on a one-to one level, and when they have a sense of belonging to a caring community.” It’s time to stop thinking of our students as numbers, and start caring about the future they could have as educated young men and women.

Yours in health,

Michael Omidi

Michael Omidi is the co-founder of No More Poverty, a nonprofit organization that works to alleviate poverty throughout the world.

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Julian Omidi discusses a report by UNICEF which shows millions of children are being left behind in poverty.

Tuesday, UNICEF released a report showing the failing global efforts to help children living in poverty. These results should be alarming to anyone who cares about the impact of global poverty and the well-being of children. Today, let’s look at the data from the report and how it children are being left behind. According to the report, the world's poorest children are twice as likely to die prior to their fifth birthday. What's worse is the rate at which children are dying, within a few days of their birth. These statistics should be startling.

Now, there has been some progress on the poverty front. From 1990 to today, poverty has reduced from 1.9 billion to 1 billion. Of these, 47% of people living in poverty are under the age of 18. Meaning, nearly half of those living in poverty today are children.

The severity of the quality of care is heavily dependent on the country. In India, nearly 60% of people living in poverty live on less than $2.00 a day! That's the price of a small cup of coffee in America. The agency warns that by 2030, nearly 68 million children under the age of five could die. What's more, 119 will be malnourished. This doesn't even account for disease caused by poor living conditions.

This report makes it clear that children are at jeopardy. Maternal mortality rates are down by 45% showing that mothers are less likely to die, but their children are still at risk. More needs to be done on a global level in order to help these children in need.

You can help by working with charitable organizations that help children in need. No More Poverty works to educate people about the global poverty problem while working with other charitable organizations that help people in poverty. Only through action can the problem be solved.

Julian Omidi,

Julian Omidi is the co-founder of No More Poverty, a nonprofit that works to stop poverty throughout the world.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015 16:52

Poverty's Impact on Women and Children

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Julian Omidi, co-founder of No More Poverty, discusses the impact poverty has on women and children throughout America.

Often when poverty is discussed in the media, the emphasis is on national statistics. Contributors discuss the federal poverty line and the national average. What is often left out are the individuals who are most heavily impacted by poverty, women and children. Recently, Save the Children released their 2015 State of the World's Mothers Report, which focuses on the impact of rapid urbanization on the world's poorest women.

The report focused on the relative health and well-being of young women and children throughout the world. In overall performance, the US slipped to number 33 on the list of 179 countries surveyed, even though we are one of the wealthiest countries in the global economy. What's more alarming is the number of infant deaths that occur in our individual cities.

Of the world's richest capitals, our nation's own capital Washington DC was found to have the highest rate of infant mortality. In Washington, 6.6 babies die per 1,000 births. What's worse is that America also has a high maternal death rate. One in 1,800 women face potential maternal death. This is significantly higher than other countries.

The capital isn't the only city that faces these statistics. In New York, 4.6 out of every 1,000 live births are said to end in death. In specific areas of New York, like the Bronx which is the poorest community, there is an infant death rate of 5.7 to every 1,000 live births. Infant mortality rates expand further than at birth, it includes up to the first year of life. Some of these statistics are influenced by factors like the amount of urbanization and industrialization that could be unhealthy for a newborn child.

It is clear from these figures and the report that America has much to improve when it comes to the health of mothers and children who are living in poverty. Compared to other developed nations, we are slipping. Yet, there is much criticism towards the discussion of poverty within the social dialogue. On the conservative side, there are many people who advocate against anti-poverty measures like national health care and a higher minimum wage.

We must band together and cross the aisle in Washington if we want true reform. It is the only way to make America a stronger nation as a whole. The inability to do so will lead to more death and suffering, which shouldn't be tolerated.

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi is the co-founder of No More Poverty, a nonprofit that aims to reduce poverty in America.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015 19:16

Poverty Should be Priority in 2016 Elections

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In today's entry, Michael Omidi discusses why poverty should be a key talking point in the 2016 elections.

Already this year we are seeing politicians announce their candidacy for the upcoming 2016 Presidential elections. Most notably was the announcement by Democrat Hilary Clinton. During these political figures' campaigns they'll create key talking points which they feel are the important issues impacting America. They will put emphasis on how their policies will be different while offering a solution. Today, I'll discuss why poverty should be a key talking point in the 2016 presidential elections.

Poverty Impacts American Families

Poverty tears apart the foundation of the American family. Often times families who live in poverty work multiple low-wage jobs. This takes away the parent from the child. Without guidance, the child is more likely to perform poorly in school. Families with low-income jobs are often left to make hard choices on nutrition. Utilizing government food subsidy programs like SNAP, families often are guided to foods that are fast and convenient instead of healthy and well rounded. This puts the children at risk of child obesity, which could lead to medical problems later in life.

According to census.gov, 1 out of every 5 children in the US receive some form of food subsidy. The 2013 census found that 45.6 million people lived in poverty. The highest age demographic living in poverty were people under the age of 18. This means a large percent of our children are disadvantaged. They will historically have less opportunity and live shorter lives due to medical issues.

Poverty Impact the American Public

Since poverty rates are still fairly high, this means more families are forced to use government programs which are heavily financed by the American public. Food and housing subsidies are a few of the type of programs provided to those living in poverty. These are costly to fund and it is put on to the American people.

One way to help reduce these numbers is to push for a raise in the federal minimum wage. Los Angeles recently pioneered this push by having their city's minimum wage raised to $15 an hour. This was to help encourage a boost in the standard of living for those with lower paying jobs.

Action Must Be Taken in 2016

Politicians must address the issue of poverty during the 2016 elections. It is unacceptable that a developed nation like America still has families living in poverty. It will be interesting to see politician's stances and potential plans to help combat this awful socio-economic condition.

Yours in health,

Michael Omidi

Michael Omidi is the co-founder of No More Poverty, a nonprofit organization that works to alleviate poverty throughout the world.

Thursday, 26 March 2015 00:08

What Does the World Health Organization Do?

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Dr. Michael Omidi is a co-founder of No More Poverty, among other charities. Here, he focuses on the workings of the World Health Organization.

The United Nations organization known as WHO (World Health Organization) is almost constantly in the news, but few people know the details about how the entity operates, when it was created and where it operates. Here are some fast facts about WHO, as well as a couple of informative websites in case you want to do some more in-depth study:

• WHO is a specialized agency within the United Nations that focuses on problems of international public health. Founded in 1948, WHO is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, and is currently led by Margaret Chan.

• One of the first, and most dramatic, successes of the organization was the near eradication of smallpox. Today, its priorities center on various communicable diseases like AIDS/HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and ebola. One of the organization’s other priorities is “food security and healthy eating,” which of course encompasses the worldwide fight against poverty.

• WHO spends about $4 billion dollars per year on its programs.

• Little-known but vitally relevant is the organization’s official mission statement, which declares that WHO works for “… the attainment by all people of the highest possible level of health.”

• The current aim of WHO is a six-fold mission, namely to provide leadership, shape research, set norms, create policy options, offer technical support, and to monitor world health.

• If you would like to volunteer your time or services for any United Nations organization, visit the official UN volunteers website.

• Two sites that will give you a thorough understanding of what WHO does, as well as its history are the organization’s own official website, plus an informational page located at Wikipedia.

The World Health Organization is one of the most powerful weapons we have to fight poverty on a global basis. Learn more about WHO and consider volunteering for one of the many UN programs. You’ll be helping “fight the good fight” against world poverty.

Yours in health,

Michel Omidi

The Omidi Brothers, Julian Omidi and Michael Omidi MD, are dedicated to the elimination of global poverty. No More Poverty was co-founded by the brothers.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015 22:03

Want to Erase Poverty? Here’s How

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Dr. Dr. Michael Omidi is a co-founder of No More Poverty, among other charities. Here, he discusses several things we can all do to fight poverty.

What can we do, right now, to alleviate global poverty? Believe it or not, the most effective way anyone in a developed nation can fight poverty is by donating money to organizations that specialize in eradicating poverty. Those who wish to become more personally involved have many options as well. Here are some ways that you can help starving people get the food they so desperately need. Choose whatever methods suits your abilities and means.

Eliminate food waste: In the U.S. alone, people waste approximately 100 million pounds of food each year! Cutting down on the amount of food waste is not a direct, immediate way to reduce world hunger, but it has a powerful indirect effect. We can strive to purchase only what we need and donate the additional money to our favorite charity. In addition, being conscious of food waste will make us more aware of hunger and thus more likely to join the fight against it.

Donate your time: There are literally thousands of online charities that could use your help with website design, content writing and various other tasks. It is common for non-profit organizations to enlist unpaid, volunteer help to get their messages out. So, go online and donate a few hours each week to an organization that works to reduce world hunger.

Reverse-boycott: That’s right, reverse-boycotting has become the newest wave in the fight against global poverty. It simply means rewarding retailers who donate a portion of their profits to legitimate charities that fight hunger. Nowadays, it’s easy to find local retailers in any U.S. city that have such programs in place. When you buy their products or services, you are directly aiding a worthwhile cause.

There are many ways to join the battle against world poverty in addition to direct monetary donations. If you are not already part of the solution, why not join up today and do whatever you can to help those less fortunate? You’ll be making the world a better place for everyone.

Yours in health,

Michel Omidi

The Omidi Brothers, Julian Omidi and Michael Omidi MD, are dedicated to the elimination of global poverty. No More Poverty was co-founded by the brothers.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015 17:20

Worry: Another Price of Poverty

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In today’s blog, Julian Omidi discusses the anxiety associated to living below the poverty line. It cites a 2010 Princeton that shows people who make $75,000 annually have better emotional well-being than those who make less than that.

In past blogs, we have discussed the physical tolls taken on the body associated with poverty. This includes malnutrition because a lack of food as well as disease because a lack of proper health-care. There is also an underlying emotional prices poverty takes… worry.

A 2010 Princeton Study cited that “Emotional well-being also rises with log income, but there is no further progress beyond an annual income of ~$75,000.” The study defines ‘emotional well-being’ as, “the emotional quality of an individual's everyday experience—the frequency and intensity of experiences of joy, stress, sadness, anger, and affection that make one's life pleasant or unpleasant.” As the study suggest, those making less than $75,000 often feel both sad and depressed.

Just how sad does someone in poverty feel compared to a person living above the poverty line? Ronald Anderson, a former University of Minnesota professor who studies compassion and suffering states that, “poor people are reporting it at three times the rate of higher incomes.” In his studies, Anderson found that those below the poverty line were twice as likely to report both chronic pain and mental distress.

With all that data, what then can be done? We must start looking at poverty from multiple points of view. In order to treat the symptoms of poverty and alleviate it all together, we must also address people in poverty’s emotional health, as well as their physical health. If they are sad, depressed and lacking optimism, it will be harder for them to change their circumstance, even with assistance.

Depression can be emotionally crippling for those who are suffering. They can become catatonic and unable to better their circumstances, regardless of their mental capacities. If society is able to help those in poverty’s mental health, those suffering may have a better chance at rising from the shackles of poverty.

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi, along with his brother Michael Omidi and mother Cindy Omidi, are co-founders of No More Poverty, a charitable organization that works to rid the world of poverty.

Thursday, 05 March 2015 22:45

The Real Causes of Childhood Poverty

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Dr. Michael Omidi is co-founder of No More Poverty, among other charities. Here he discusses the true causes of poverty among the world’s children.

What are the root causes of poverty among children? The online publication Poverty Living notes 10 key reasons for the phenomenon of starvation among children, especially in the U.S.

You might notice a common thread that runs through the following list of causes, namely the breakdown or absence of the family unit. That said, here are the 10 causes that the admittedly unscientific analysis came up with, in no particular order:

• Being born into a low-income home: This seems almost too logical, but when low-income families have more children than they are ready for, the cycle of poverty becomes stronger.

• Pregnancy when the parents are not married: An international phenomenon, unmarried parents are more likely to become impoverished than married parents.

• Being born into a single-parent home: Single-parent homes are the most common site for impoverished families.

• Families in which neither parent is educated past elementary levels: Education is seen as the key to poverty elimination all over the world. Education means skills. Skills translate into jobs, and jobs into money.

• Children born into families where the parents are unemployed: Children born to unemployed parents put an even greater strain on financial resources.

• Expenses above and beyond the basic necessities: Many families live just at the breaking point, where a single emergency can break the bank, or what there is left of it.

• Teen parenthood: The younger the parents, the more likely that the family will be, or become, impoverished.

• Drug and alcohol addiction: Needless to say or analyze, when parents are drug abusers, their children are almost guaranteed to suffer in numerous ways.

• Family breakdown as a result of a tragedy: Whether it is a fire, a divorce, a flood or the death of the sole breadwinner, a tragedy often can propel an entire family into poverty in a matter of days.

• Hereditary poverty: While not all those who live in poverty pass the situation on to the next generation, many young, uneducated parents become role models for their own children, who see family units as worthless.

While there are no easy solutions to these problems, identifying the underlying factors that contribute to poverty can help us focus on long-term goals that can end the cycle.

Educating ourselves and others is the best way to effect positive change in the world. With all of us together, we can work toward a world where no child has to grow up in poverty.

Yours in health,

Michel Omidi

The Omidi Brothers, Julian Omidi and Michael Omidi MD, are dedicated to the elimination of global poverty. No More Poverty was co-founded by the brothers.

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