TIME politics

Why the Government Is Terrible at Helping You Get a Job

US-POLITICS-HR 803-OBAMA
Vice President Joe Biden watches as President Barack Obama speaks during a signing ceremony for H.R. 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, on July 22, 2014 in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next to the White House in Washington, DC. MANDEL NGAN—AFP/Getty Images

Federal job training programs are stuck in time

This summer, Congress enacted the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which governs the $3 billion or so spent each year by the federal government on job training. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez announced that the Act would bring U.S. job training into the 21st Century.

I started in the public workforce system in 1979 with a community job training agency and have seen the system improve over the years. Today’s system is more focused on linking training to jobs, in involving employers, in making data on job placement rates more transparent. The new legislation helps nudge along these improvements.

However, WIOA will not significantly change the system or outcomes. Like its predecessors, the Job Training Partnership Act (1982) and the Workforce Investment Act (1998), WIOA involves modest adjustments to job training approaches (despite hundreds of meetings, conferences, and discussions). The same forms of recruitment, assessment, training, and placement will continue, usually by the same training and placement agencies.

Accompanying the enactment of WIOA, Vice President Joe Biden released a highly touted report on the future of job training, “What Works in Job Training: A Synthesis of the Evidence.” The report is mainly a rehash of the same ideas—sector-based training, employer-driven training—that were being discussed in 1979. It’s filled with empty job training government-speak, such as calls for “coordinated strategies across systems” or “flexible, innovative training strategies.”

In contrast to the limited change in the public workforce system, the private sector job training and placement system today is a frenzy of entrepreneurship, creativity, and energy. Much of this entrepreneurship is centered on Internet job training and placement tools.

A recent study by Transmosis, a nonprofit of tech entrepreneurs working on labor and employment, identified over 100 recently established websites aimed at improving the ability of job seekers to identify and apply for jobs, and/or improving the ability of employers to identify candidates who would be good fits. New websites are launching each week.

Some of these websites target specific industries and occupations, such as Doostang (finance) and Proven (hospitality). These sites can only succeed with the participation of employers, so their success hinges on deep knowledge of the industry and what businesses need. Other websites, such as MindSumo, Take the Interview, and Careerflo, enable job seekers to go beyond the traditional resume and supplement their applications with video demonstrations, interviews, and portfolios. Still others, like YesGraph and Work4, expand the ability of job seekers to draw on referrals.

There are websites that are trying to expand the opportunities for internships (InternBound, Koofers, LaunchPath Project) and ones trying to expand the opportunities for project-based work (TaskRabbit, Thumbtack). There are more than 20 major websites aimed at helping job seekers better set and manage career goals.

These Internet tools are aimed at generating revenues, as they must be. But talk to the entrepreneurs behind them and you hear a social mission: improving the labor exchange, matching job seekers and employers, or giving job seekers options beyond the black holes of traditional job boards.

For example, Workpop.com is a Los Angeles start-up founded by Chris Ovitz and Reed Shaffner, who see a better way than the online job boards to connect entry-level restaurant workers (busboys, waiters, bartenders) to job openings. Their site enables workers to apply for jobs through their phones, to store resumes on the site, and to make videos demonstrating what motivates them to do their jobs. Workhands.com, a start-up in San Francisco, is a type of LinkedIn for skilled workers in crafts such as carpentry, welding, and automotive repair. Akimboconnect.com, a start-up in New York and California, helps workers with disabilities better showcase their skills, and helps employers seek out such workers.

To be sure, many of these new websites will not be in operation two or three years from now. Employers have limited funds to spend on job placement, and the number of firms already competing for these dollars is far too many. Other attempts to monetize the job placement services have yet to gain traction.

Still, these entrepreneurs are trying to build a better system, and some will succeed, because they are not about meetings, process, forms. They are about enrolling job seekers, testing ideas, pivoting, adapting, moving on to the next idea.

Their enterprises will never replace the low-tech networking and one-to-one job counseling that remain the best route to employment today. Furthermore, they cannot replace the experience and knowledge that the public workforce has built over the past five decades.

Indeed, the most promising path for better job placement is to integrate the old government workforce system with the innovation of private-sector entrepreneurs. This is starting to happen in Southern California. The South Bay Workforce Investment Board (SBWIB), which oversees the public workforce system in nine cities in south Los Angeles County, has joined with Workpop.com to increase hospitality industry placements, especially for entry-level workers. Workpop is not receiving any public funds—but it is drawing on SBWIB’s research on the hospitality sector and its ability to identify job seekers. SBWIB and its jobseeking clients benefit from Workpop.com’s Internet and mobile tools.

SBWIB director Jan Vogel has been in the training field for nearly 40 years. Rather than be dismissive of the new entrants, he welcomes them. “Partnering with these entrepreneurs enables our job centers to reach more companies and individuals faster and more effectively,” he said. “The new companies optimize the technological spirit that is exploding in California. ”

Michael Bernick is the former director of California’s labor department, the Employment Development Department, and has been involved in job training and placement since 1979. He currently is a Milken Institute Fellow and a contributing editor at Zocalo Public Square, for which he wrote this.

TIME States

See Governor Rick Perry’s New Mugshot

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Texas Governor Rick Perry indictment over charges of alleged abuse of power left him required to something not common of a sitting governor: take a mugshot.

Perry turned himself in to have his mugshot taken on Tuesday at the Travis County Courthouse in Austin, Texas.

Perry ardently objects to charges laid out against him by the Travis County District Attorney. He stated on Tuesday that he remained confident because of his belief that “the rule of law would prevail.”

Perry followed up his trip to the courthouse with a trip to an ice cream shop.

TIME Opinion

Why Troubled Politicians Blame Women Even When It’s Not a Sex Scandal

Former Virginia Gov. McDonnell And Wife Appear In Court For Federal Corruption Case
Former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen leave the court in Richmond, Va., on Jan. 24, 2014 Mark Wilson—Getty Images

The trial of former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell shows that it's convenient to have a female scapegoat

Updated Aug. 20, 10:10 a.m. E.T.

Men have been blaming their screwups on women ever since the Garden of Eden. Because Adam totally didn’t mean to eat that apple! He only did it because that crazy Eve chick tricked him into it. She must have had a crush on the snake.

This week, former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell’s defense team started bringing witnesses to testify about Maureen McDonnell’s craziness and the former governor’s saintliness. The couple is facing federal corruption charges related to luxury gifts and loans they accepted from a political donor. The defense strategy so far has been to pin the blame for the whole mess on the ex-governor’s wife, saying she had a “crush” on big donor Jonnie Williams, but wasn’t a public official herself so lavish presents to her don’t count as corruption.

Williams, who testified for federal prosecutors under a generous immunity deal, denied any romantic intrigue with Mrs. McDonnell, saying his relationship with the family was a business transaction to help sell health supplements through his company, Star Scientific. “I thought the governor could help bring this product to the marketplace, and it was not the right thing to do,” he testified.

But the defense is arguing that the governor didn’t have anything to do with the $165,000 in cash and gifts that Williams gave him over a two-year period, it was just little ol’ Maureen being a silly woman in love. Love makes women dumb, right?

Longtime McDonnell aide Janet Vestal Kelly testified for the defense on Monday, calling the former governor “Mr. Honest,” but said his wife was “divaish” and “pathologically incapable of taking any responsibility.” She explained that it was “well known” that Maureen McDonnell would “hide things,” and that she seemed “kind of flirty” with Williams. Kelly said she didn’t want to “pile on” the former Virginia first lady, but that her staff even worried that Maureen McDonnell might be mentally ill and they once staged a mutiny because she was so difficult to work for. The defense also presented a letter signed by Maureen McDonnell’s staff detailing the “worst kind of bullying.” And on Tuesday, Maureen McDonnell’s sister-in-law, also named Maureen McDonnell, testified that she was “very manipulative, very unpredictable and very deceptive.” Suddenly, it’s the first lady’s personality that’s on trial, not her husband’s role as an elected official.

It’s possible that Maureen McDonnell, the former governor’s wife, is the lovesick crazy woman the defense team is making her out to be (she did text Williams: “I just felt the earth move, and I wasn’t having sex” after an earthquake.) But it’s also possible this is an elaborate ruse to blame the wife in order to get both McDonnells out of some serious prison time. (They face 14 counts of public corruption, obstruction of justice and lying on financial documents.) This could be a clever experiment in political alchemy: by transforming a corruption scandal into a sex scandal, it puts the focus on the woman’s behavior instead of the money trail. And it makes sense: sex scandals are easier for the public to understand, and blaming the woman tends to take some of the heat off the man — just ask Paula Broadwell or Rielle Hunter.

But now “blaming the woman” (or using a woman’s behavior to distract pesky critics and prosecutors) is becoming a catchall strategy for exonerating male politicians from calamities that might not have much to do with sex at all. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said he was “blindsided” by the scandal surrounding the George Washington Bridge closures in Fort Lee, N.J., which he says was orchestrated by his aide Bridget Anne Kelly (who was later publicly shamed for a “personal relationship” she had with another staff member). Chinese politician Bo Xilai last year blamed his “crazy” wife for embezzling government money and taking bribes (she was convicted in 2012 of murdering a British business associate). Newt Gingrich staffers blamed the collapse of his 2011 presidential campaign on a takeover by his wife Callista. And former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens blamed the $250,000 worth of home renovations from a wealthy oil contractor that led to federal corruption charges in 2008 on his wife Catherine (an investigation later found that prosecutors withheld evidence that would have helped Stevens, who lost his Senate seat and then died in a 2010 plane crash). None of these were explicitly sex scandals, but they were still spun as the woman’s fault.

Of course, the woman isn’t always blameless — for Stevens, at least, there might have been some truth to his claim that his wife paid the renovation bills and he might not have known about the thousands of dollars worth of gifts. And it’s possible that Maureen McDonnell did accept Williams’ money without her husband’s knowledge (although this picture of the governor driving Williams’ car makes that seem unlikely). Some lawyers say Bob McDonnell’s “crush” defense is so nutty it just might work, others say it could be the truth. But it’s still a mighty convenient tactic, and it’s not just used by men; Hillary Clinton was all too willing to blame Monica Lewinsky for the affair with Bill, even though Lewinsky was a young, inexperienced intern and Bill Clinton was the President of the United States.

The trend could be an unfortunate by-product of women’s rights: as women are seen as increasingly capable of succeeding, they’re also seen as increasingly capable of screwing up. For example, Mary Todd Lincoln was famous for overspending on White House decorations and falsifying spending records, but Lincoln didn’t try to blame any of his political woes on her (then again Honest Abe had bigger fish to fry).

There’s an old saying that says, “Behind every great man, there’s a great woman.” These days, it seems the inverse is also true: in front of every embarrassed man is an embarrassing woman.

TIME Economics

The Wealthy and Powerful Discover Inequality

President Obama Hosts Summit On Working Families
Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein participates in a panel discussion on 'Talent Attraction and Retention' during the White House Summit On Working Families at the Omni Shoreham hotel June 23, 2014 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images

Even the rich are admitting that inequality is bad for business

As the Gilded Age has been peaking, a number of the rich and their foundations have been helping the hungry, the sick, the homeless, the battered, the less educated and veterans in need of opportunity. However, aside from the palliative approach, “the system,” as President Franklin D. Roosevelt liked to call it, until now, has had no serious proactive strategy to address the inequality in incomes and wealth.

The dominant social message has been that for most of the population – the huge middle class – one can work hard and raise oneself up through education, solid contributions, good performance and, ultimately, economic rewards that will be the fruit of these virtues and labor. But there are signs everywhere that this is no longer the case. Wages are flat, returns to education are down, and solid-paying jobs with benefits are the old, not the new, norm. As recent data from the U.S. Department of Commerce shows, employee compensation – wages and benefits – comprise an ever-smaller piece of the economic pie, while wealthy Americans collect significantly more in capital income – interest and dividend payments. As Brookings Institution labor economist Gary Burtless put it, “everything’s coming up roses for people who own a chunk of American capital.” The structure of the economy rewards those who own capital and derive income from that capital. Work hours alone simply do not cut it. Automation and robotization will only accelerate the process.

Who has stepped forward to analyze the problem and start a national conversation about the solution? Many have, but one recent surprising group of trenchant commentators this summer is the wealthy and powerful themselves. In defining the problem of inequality in early June, Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein told CBS This Morning that inequality is “destabilizing” and “responsible for the divisions in the country. The divisions could get wider. If you can’t legislate, you can’t deal with problems. If you can’t deal with problems, you can’t drive growth and you can’t drive the success of the country. It’s a very big issue and something that has to be dealt with.” In mid-July, Bill Gross, a billionaire in Southern California and the founder of PIMCO Asset Management, headlined a USA Today op-ed with the claim that “Economic inequality threatens capitalism.” In the piece, Gross goes on to argue that “income equality is good for business” – underscoring this group of observers’ concern that inequality threatens economic growth – and says that solutions to inequality should guide a Republican platform. In the July issue of Politico, billionaire Nick Hanauer wrote a “memo” to his “fellow zillionaires.” As the first nonfamily investor in Amazon.com and founder of an Internet company that sold to Microsoft to for $6.4 billion, Hanauer represents the high technology side of “the system.” His message would be downright scary if it were not written by a billionaire himself. In his piece, “The Pitchforks Are Coming…For Us Plutocrats,” he wrote, “Our country is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and a more feudal society…. No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality.” In mid-July, Walmart President and CEO Bill Simon commented to Reuters and CNBC that its lowered sales were because the “middle and down are still pretty challenged.” Even philanthropy magazines are filled with worry about the inequality conundrum. Alms for the poor and vulnerable just won’t cut it anymore.

This group has not been shy about discussing possible solutions. Bill Gross called attention to Henry Ford’s “broad-based” solution to expand incomes early in the last century – which echo the generous cash profit-sharing checks on top of wages, which every Ford worker still enjoys today – and suggested large increases in the minimum wage. While not offering specifics, Hanauer suggests our policies must “change dramatically,” and he admits the performance/reward gap of the new economy by saying that “I’m not the smartest guy you’ve ever met, or the hardest-working.” Blankfein’s solution is to “grow the pie” and “distribute it in a proper way.” He lays out this criterion for a solution: “If you grow the pie and too few people enjoy the benefits of it and the fruit, then you have an unstable society.”

The insights from the top do not let up, and their analyses are wide-ranging and sharp. However, “the system” has not been systematic about exploring solutions. If one trolls the websites of the foundations of the rich and powerful, there is a decided lack of willingness to look at systematic economic solutions. Occasional ideas should not be mistaken for careful and deliberate problem-solving on this complex problem.

We will never solve the problem of inequality unless we develop mechanisms for the middle class to share in the ownership and profits – the capital – of the economy. The reason is that the private ownership of capital assets, such as businesses, stocks and bonds, are highly concentrated. Moreover, in 2011 almost 90% of all capital gains and all capital income, such as dividends and interest, went to the top 20% of the population.

One possible avenue is to apply to the middle class at large the approaches that the rich and powerful apply to themselves. Most of their income is from having a share of ownership and profits in businesses. In order to give middle class workers access to these types of capital income, we must dramatically expand the tax incentives for businesses of every size to offer shares of ownership to all of their employees. This ownership can come in the form of grants of restricted stock, stock options, ESOPS (Employee Stock Ownership Plans) and profit sharing, a la Henry Ford. There is a long history of citizen shares in American workplaces since the late 1700s, with many worthy examples among the Fortune 500, high tech firms and the thousands of privately held corporations offering generous ESOPs.

Shares of profits and equity at the workplace will help, but will not be sufficient because much of the population works in the public sector – in the military, government or non-profits. Big ideas are necessary. For soldiers and teachers and others, we need to explore how to apply the lessons of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation to the rest of America. The Corporation receives oil and mineral rental, royalty and revenue-sharing payments from corporations allowed to use Alaska’s resources. This capital is invested in a diversified portfolio so that every Alaskan citizen can receive an annual dividend check.

To replicate this arrangement here, assets and leases of the Federal government and states should be made available to private corporations – similar to the Alaskan initiative – in order to pay citizen dividends nationwide. The wind and solar energy fields popping up around the nation should be largely owned by these corporations, as should the wireless spectrum controlled by the Federal Communications Commission and other future technologies receiving tax subsidies funded by citizens at large. States and cities should stop the corporate welfare of huge tax abatements and receive ownership shares to be deposited in citizen share corporations. For example, the DeBlasio Administration should do a top to bottom review of New York City’s tax abatements and monetize them as equity shares for the middle class. These corporations can be licensed by the Treasury and borrow funds to invest in the new technologies and robots of the future. As a sign of hope for the younger generation, we should revisit the idea of Baby Bonds, where an account is set up for each newborn using the same low interest loans that the Treasury and the Federal Reserve recently used to bail out Wall Street and revive its capital ownership. These Baby Bond funds would also be privately managed to be invested in assets that pay regular capital income. Relatives and the rich could make deposits to the accounts, the children could learn how to track them in elementary school, and the dividend income could supplement wages in adult life.

If citizens do not privately own more of the economy, the flat wages of the middle class will never dig us out of inequality. It is time for the rich and powerful to encourage both political parties to set up a national bipartisan commission to explore these and other useful ideas. Charity and philanthropy will never be enough.

Joseph Blasi’s latest book, The Citizen’s Share: Reducing Inequality in the Twenty First Century (written with Richard B. Freeman and Douglas L. Kruse) tells the story of the American history of the shares in business and the economy. Blasi is the J. Robert Beyster Distinguished Professor at Rutgers University.

TIME politics

Watch John McCain Dance The Robot Like No Politician Has Danced The Robot Before

ABC, we have your next cast members for Dancing with the Stars.

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If there was ever a case for Dancing With the Stars: Politicians Special, it was Saturday night’s Apollo in the Hamptons benefit, where showstoppers John McCain and Chris Christie could have danced all night. And if you’re watching the above video of McCain doing the robot with an in-awe Jamie Foxx, you’ll wish they had.

While the Senator pulled off stellar Mr. Roboto moves, getting most literally down in front of high rollers ranging from Bon Jovi to Harvey Weinstein to AmEx CEO Ken Chenault.

Christie, meanwhile, went a little more Electric Slide/Chicken Dance fusion.

“Christie really held his own,” Jack Nicholson told the Post. “I told him, as he walked back to his seat, ‘Governor, you can’t let New Jersey down.'”

Apparently Apollo in the Hamptons is the event of the season. Last year, Foxx reportedly got Colin Powell to sing “Blurred Lines.” While that magical moment wasn’t caught on video, at least we have the former Secretary of State’s DWTS audition tape to make up for it:

TIME Egypt

Israelis, Palestinians Resume Talks on Gaza Deal

Mahmoud Abbas
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas listens to Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby during their meeting at his residence in Cairo on July 16, 2014 Amr Nabil—AP

Following Egypt's announcement of a 24-hour extension of a cease-fire, Palestinian and Israeli leaders met in Cairo to negotiate details about the future of the Gaza Strip

(CAIRO) — Palestinian and Israeli negotiators in Cairo resumed indirect talks on Tuesday, trying to hammer out a roadmap for the war-torn Gaza Strip after Egypt announced a 24-hour extension of the cease-fire to allow more time for negotiations.

The extension of the truce fanned hopes of an emerging deal, however vague, though wide gaps remain on key issues, including Israel’s blockade of Gaza, its demands for disarmament of the Islamic militant group Hamas and Palestinian demands for a Gaza sea port and an airport.

In an apparent attempt to pressure Hamas, Egypt said early Monday it would co-host an international fundraising conference for Gaza — but only if a deal is reached first.

That appears to play into the hands of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, which is seeking to regain a Gaza foothold, seven years after Hamas ousted it from power in the densely populated coastal strip.

A member of the Palestinian delegation said that Israel was offering to ease the Gaza blockade by opening border crossings to some goods and people, but was insisting that it retain the right to limit the imports of material like cement, and chemical and metal products, which Israel says can be used for weapons manufacturing.

The Palestinian official also told The Associated Press that Israel wants to put off for an unspecified, later date any discussion on the opening of a Gaza sea port and airport and the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss negotiations with the media.

The Gaza blockade, imposed after Hamas seized control of the territory in 2007, has greatly limited the movement of Palestinians in and out of the territory of 1.8 million people, restricted the flow of goods into Gaza and blocked virtually all exports.

Israel says the blockade is needed to prevent arms smuggling, but critics say the measures have amounted to collective punishment.

Jamal Shobaky, the Palestinian ambassador in Cairo voiced disappointment with the Israeli stance, particularly on the question of the blockade.

“What the Israelis have offered so far in the talks is not removing the blockade but rather easing it,” Shobaky said.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev would not comment on the talks.

The latest Gaza round of fighting was precipitated by massive Israeli arrests of Hamas members in the West Bank, following the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers.

On Monday, Israel’s Shin Bet security service said it had uncovered a coup plot due to information gleaned from the arrests. It described the plot as a Hamas coup attempt in the West Bank aimed at toppling Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The three Israeli teens were slain in June in the West Bank. Their killings were followed by the slaying of a Palestinian youth in Jerusalem in what was a likely revenge attack.

Since the war started with an Israeli air campaign on July 8, followed by the introduction of troops on the ground nine days later, many of the strip’s structures have been destroyed and tens of thousands of people remain huddled in U.N. shelters.

Gaza Health Ministry official Ashraf al-Kidra said Monday the death toll from the fighting had jumped to over 2,000 Palestinians, the majority of them civilians, while U.N. officials, who often take more time to verify figures, put the number at 1,976. Israel lost 67 people, all but three of them soldiers.

TIME politics

Chris Christie Shows Off His World-Famous Dance Moves Onstage With Jamie Foxx

The New York Post called it "rambunctious gyrating"

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At a benefit in the Hamptons this weekend, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie busted out his incredible dance moves (which he recently showed off on The Tonight Show), much to the delight of the crowd.

“I know you’ve got a dance in you, Chris Christie,” said Jamie Foxx, who urged the politician to join him onstage, according to the New York Post. He promptly made his way up to the stage for what the Post aptly described as “rambunctious gyrating.”

Sadly, there’s no audio, so we recommend turning on some Donna Summer to play in the background. Here, hit play on this and then return to the Christie video:

 

TIME Immigration

A Mayor’s Advice on the Unaccompanied-Minor Crisis

U.S. Agents Take Undocumented Immigrants Into Custody Near Tex-Mex Border
An undocumented immigrant awaits transportation to a processing center after being detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents some 60 miles north of the U.S. Mexico border near Falfurrias, Texas on July 23, 2014. John Moore—Getty Images

Education is a basic need

My town, Riverdale Park, Maryland, has grappled with unaccompanied minors arriving from Central America for years. I’ve been the mayor for the last nine, and for even longer, I’ve been an educator in our local school system with a very large immigrant population. Riverdale Park is one-third first-generation immigrant, mostly from Latin America.

The first step toward grappling with new arrivals is to recognize them as neighbors—both as residents and from countries that are now neighbors as well. I know this sounds simple, but until it becomes a reality no real improvement is likely. Neighbors work together and help each other cope with common problems.

As I came to accept the Salvadorans, Guatemalans and Mexican ex-patriots living around me as neighbors, I discovered new partners in addressing the many problems that we, as neighbors, all needed addressing. An influx of de-facto orphans is no different; the only way to constructively deal with the problem will mean real engagement with the broader community of immigrants—the families or sympathetic members of the same ethnic group must be part of the solution.

Modern technology and rapid transportation obliterate distance, and create what I call the “worm hole” effect. Even relatively poor immigrants in my town are able to maintain close and regularly reinforced connections to their lands of origin. Riverdale Park has a worm hole leading to the Mexican state of Puebla, El Salvador and Guatemala. If I were to ignore that tunnel when addressing the issues of my community, I would be doomed to much needless frustration and much avoidable difficulty.

Because of the “worm hole” I know my community will get some of the influx of minors above and beyond the flow that we always see. The kids with family here will naturally end up here for a time anyway, and sympathy for the orphaned will mean the children of distant relatives or friends from the old country are going to naturally draw them here.

As the kids arrive in my region, Riverdale Park is working to ease the situation and cooperate with Governor Martin O’Malley’s placement priority for them—first with family, second with foster care, and lastly in congregated housing. Area churches are always part of the first line of assistance for those in need and I’m lucky to have great partners in helping with basics like clothing, food, hygiene and school supplies. We also are blessed to have several great organizations that focus their efforts on immigrant kids and their specific needs for things like English acquisition and constructive after-school activities. I also put my neighbors in the immigrant community on alert and seek regular updates on how this looks from the street level–for example finding and working with the kids who got through on their own and aren’t identified by the system.

For the young immigrants, whether they are here only a short time or permanently, a basic concern is education. Regardless of whether kids’ destinies are in the United States or a Central American country they need an education to be a productive member of society. In the schools in my area, we have increasingly adapted to teaching students who are in the process of learning English, while speaking another language at home. Systems have traditionally viewed this as a problem, but we see being truly bilingual as an asset and mark of a quality education. Clearly though local jurisdictions need the state and federal governments to insure that no local jurisdiction is overwhelmed beyond their ability to provide classroom space and a reasonable teacher-to-student ratio.

What about the other end of the worm hole? How can we help stem the flow of people from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras northward? Talk of root causes and development in Central America almost always misses discussing their greatest need of assistance: creating a strong universal education system. Every official I’ve ever spoken to in Guatemala has emphasized this need. Central American education is poor by every measure, and this state virtually guarantees continued poverty and lack of opportunities for many in these countries. Border control, legal reform (here and there!), drug interdiction, agricultural improvements and a host of other topics clearly are part of the whole picture; however, without an educated population, the countries of Central America will remain locked in a cycle of poverty, desperation and flight to the United States.

Vernon Archer is five term Mayor of the Town of Riverdale Park, Maryland, and teaches social studies, history and English as a second language at William Wirt Middle School in Prince George’s County Public Schools.

TIME politics

Kevin Spacey Prank Calls Hillary Clinton in House of Cards Parody

To talk about the former president's 68th birthday present

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In this video released by The Clinton Foundation, House of Cards star actor Kevin Spacey calls up former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to see if he can figure out what she is getting her husband, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, for his birthday.

He suggests an elephant because Hillary and their daughter Chelsea have been calling for increased efforts to curb elephant poaching for ivory in Africa.

“This is a very personal decision I will make when I’m ready,” she responds, which is what she says when she is asked whether she will run for the White House.

Then Spacey launches into a discussion of names for Chelsea’s baby like Frank, a reference to Frank Underwood, the conniving South Carolina Democrat he plays in the series, and Claire, his wife on the show who is played by Robin Wright.

Bill Clinton turns 68 on August 19.

WATCH: Jimmy Fallon’s House of Cards Spoof about NBC “House of Cue Cards”

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