Daniel was–is–what some would call a “crack baby.” When Janine, a 42-year-old African-American volunteer at a Manhattan public hospital, first laid eyes on him in the boarder-baby nursery, he was tiny and asymmetrical; at 4 months, he looked like a newborn. Janine started visiting Daniel every day, and when he reached 10 months, brought him home with her and set about formally adopting him. Today, greeting a visitor at the door of his mother’s comfortable home in an unassuming neighborhood in southern Westchester, he is a fine boy of 4, slender but of average height, with shining eyes.

Although Janine learned not to look for failure in Daniel, others dwelled on his drug exposure. The first school she took him to for enrollment saw a black adopted child and asked, “Is he drug-exposed?” Janine claimed she didn’t know. The second, a preschool special education program, proved more problematic. “This school knew, and it was written up in all the evaluations,” says Janine, her voice rising angrily at the recollection. “Everything was related to his history.

“At 2, he could count up to 20. He was beginning to learn how to count in Spanish by the time he was 3. He knew his alphabet. But the school reports were absolutely horrifying. I mean, it wasn’t the same child. According to them, he couldn’t repeat two numbers consecutively, he couldn’t turn the pages of a book, he couldn’t hold a pair of scissors.

“I mean, there was nothing this child could do. And that’s because they knew.”

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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