Wash. lawmaker wants to banish negative language

Posted: Wednesday, January 13, 2010

SEATTLE - Decades ago, poor children became known as "disadvantaged" to soften the stigma of poverty. Then they were "at-risk." Now, a Washington lawmaker wants to replace those euphemisms with a new one, "at hope."

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."

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