Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Changing state law wording to "at-hope"

This is a news story that George Carlin would have taken great interest in. A Washington state lawmaker wants to change state law wording in regards to poor children. Children used to be called "poor" but we decided that it was to harsh, then they lightened it up to "disadvantaged" but no, that is still to mean, so let change it to "at-risk." State Senator Rosa Franklin's idea it to further change the term to be "at-hope"

From KSTU in Utah, this Associated Press story introduces us to the bill and what our linguist friends at Lake Superior State University think of it.

Democratic State Sen. Rosa Franklin says negative labels are hurting kids' chances for success and she's not a bit concerned that people will be confused by her proposed rewrite of the 54 places in state law where words like "at risk" and "disadvantaged" are used.

The bill has gotten a warm welcome among fellow lawmakers, state officials and advocacy groups.

"We really put too many negatives on our kids," says Franklin, who is the state Senate's president pro tem. "We need to come up with positive terms."

Republican Rep. Glenn Anderson disagrees, saying the potential cost of getting the bill from idea to printing — an average of $3,500 — is too much. And besides, he says, he is insulted more by the idea of the bill than what he called the political correctness it represents.

"It's not the label, it's the people who show up to help (children) that make the difference," he says. "What helps is a smart, well structured program, that has funding and credibility."

But there's one group that's glad about the possibility of getting rid of the phrase "children at-risk." The people who publish the annual humorous List of Banished Words banned "at-risk" in 2000, calling it an overused and misused phrase.

But the idea of changing state statutes to say "at hope" instead drew a giggle from Tom Pink, a spokesman for Lake Superior State University. Pink's office also banished "politically correct" in 1994 along with politically correct words and phrases.

"While I respect what the legislator wants to do, I think we can all agree that changing the words doesn't change the problem," Pink says, adding "it maybe even takes attention away from what perhaps should really be happening."

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