Saturday, December 31, 2016

Clairton HS vs. Bishop Guilfoyle HS: A Contrast in Poverty

Referees break up a fight in the Class A Title Game in 2014
The Pennsylvania class A high school football championship this year was a matchup of two schools with proud football traditions: Clairton High School near Pittsburgh and Bishop Guilfoyle High School in Altoona, PA.  The two teams met in the title game in 2014 and again this year.  Guilfoyle won the game 17-0 giving them their 47th straight win and third straight state title.

On a Winning Streak: Clairton High School Football Team from Eileen Blass on Vimeo

Clairton won four straight Class A titles from 2009 to 2012 winning 60 games in a row (a state record).   This however is where the similarities end for the two teams.  The video above shows how the city of Clairton changed since 1970 with the population declining from 15,051 to 6,681, an 56% decrease according to the census bureau (the person in the video who said it had decreased from 40,000 to 8,000 may have been including surrounding communities).  The census bureau currently estimates that the city has a median income of $30,207 and 28.6% of their citizens live in poverty.  

Altoona, PA (where Bishop Guilfoyle is located) over the same period, had a population decline from 63,115 in the 1970 census to an estimated 45,344, a 28% decrease.  According to the census bureau, it currently has a median income of $36,215 and 22.1% of it's citizens live below the poverty level.  

Bishop Guilfoyle is a catholic high school with a tuition $6500 and has the advantage of being able to recruit players and giving them financial assistance.  They can even recruit international students.  Their coach played on Penn State's 1995 Rose Bowl Championship team under coach Joe PaternoClairton, as a public high school can only use players who live in their school district (though some may move there just to play for them).  

The census bureau's annual Small Area Income and Poverty Estimate (SAIPE) for the school district has Clairton with a 45.6% poverty rate for it's student population (age 5-17) which is the second highest in the state (children from wealthier families in this community may go to private or catholic schools).  The Altoona School district (which does not include Guilfoyle) by contrast has an estimated poverty rate of 25.2%.  There is a higher degree of uncertainty in the estimates for smaller school districts.

The PIAA (Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association) has six classifications for their schools for school size.  They have separate championships for each class.  Of the 12 teams that made it to the championship game five of them were Catholic and three of those won.  The class 6A game was a matchup of two Catholic Schools with Pittsburgh Central Catholic (Dan Marino's alma mater) playing St. Joseph's prep in Philadelphia.  St. Joe's won 49-7.

Sports can be a source of pride for a community, especially for one that has fallen on hard times.  Just as in prehistoric times the best hunter in a tribe was a leader for the community.  Sports fills the void that was created now that no one needs to hunt to survive.  Noam Chomsky argues that sports can be a distraction from people's everyday problems but our sports leaders, such a Colin Kapernick can use their prestigious position to advocate for those less fortunate than them.

  **Related Posts**

Comparing McCort's Class of '16 to the Class of '88 in their College Plans

A Higher % of the McCort Class of '16 in the NHS than in the 1980's

Super Bowl XLV: A Battle of Champions Who Couldn't Compete Now Without a Salary Cap

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

US Life Expectancy Decreases and Those Who Want the Affordable Care Act Expanded Increases

This month it has been reported that life expectancy in 2015 in the US has decreased for the first time since 1993.  The decrease was from 78.9 years in 2014 to 78.8 in 2015.  The reasons for this decrease are unclear though the overall death rate increased by 1.2% last year.  The top causes of death had increased rates except for cancer.  Alzheimer's disease showed the largest increase in mortality.  The study's authors caution that this decrease in life expectancy of 0.1 years (which corresponds to a decrease of 37 days) may be a statistical aberration.

Views of the ACA (CBS News Poll)
Dec 2016
Feb 2015
Working well, keep as is
Good things, but changes needed
Needs to be repealed entirely

One statistic that has changed little in the last 6 years is the level of support for the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare).  The above table shows how views of the ACA have changed over the last year according to a CBS poll conducted this month.  Overall the poll showed that 45% of the public approve of the ACA while 50% do not.  The same respondents were asked what changes to the law were needed.  Only 10% wanted it kept as is (up from 6% last Feb).  The number who wanted changes made to the law increased to 63% from 60% while the number who want it repealed entirely decreased from 32% in 2015 to 25 this month.  The poll did break the numbers down by political party and found that 47% of Republicans wanted changes compared to 78% of Democrats and 61% of independents.  The poll did not specify which changes were needed to the law.

Opinion of ACA (Pew Research)
Nov 30-Dec 5, 2016
Oct 20-25, 2016
Mar 7-11, 2012
Sep 22-Oct 4, 2011
Jan 5-9, 2011
Nov 4-7, 2010
Expand it
Leave it as is
Repeal it
Don’t Know/Refused
Expand + As is

Another poll was published this month showing essentially a 48% to 47% approval/disapproval ratio (essentially a tie) for the ACA published by Pew research.  The poll did ask respondents (n=752) what changes they wanted to see to the ACA.  39% said expand it which is virtually unchanged from October but increased from 2012 and 2011 levels by 5 to 9%.  The number who wanted it left as is increased by 2% from October but decreased from 2011 by 5 to 7%.  The number who want it repealed decreased by 5% from October but stayed within the values from 2012 to 2010.  If one adds the % who want it expanded to those who want it left as is we find a consistent majority across the six year period ranging from 54% this month to 52% in Nov 2010.

It is a matter of interpretation exactly what "expand it" means but other polls have found similar results using wording of the question "Is the ACA not Liberal Enough" or "Approve" as is, found similar majorities when the two categories are added.  The conclusion is that a majority of the US public wants universal health care with a growing percentage wanting a better bill.  Such actions are unlikely in the short term in the Federal Government with Trump in the White House (though he once supported single payer) and the GOP controlling Congress.

  **Related Posts**

POLL: Dislike of healthcare law crosses party lines, 1 in 4 Dems want repeal - (But Doesn't Ask Why)

The US and Republicans Want Health Care Law Repealed....? 

Health Care and the 2014 Election in Pennsylvania


Santorum: No One Has Ever Died Because They Didn’t Have Health Care |The New Civil Rights Movement