On Thursday, November 1 CAYL took a trip out to Brandeis University to join other community members, academics and students in discussing the current state of poverty in the U.S. at the (Re)Discovering Harringston’s Other America: A Symposium on Poverty Since the Great Society.
The speakers and panelists painted a grave picture of the lack of progress on solving the poverty problem over the past 50 years since Harrington’s book was published. Most of note to us were the statistics on children in poverty shared by Dolores Acevedo-Garcia – for example, that in 2010, the number of Hispanic children in poverty was greater than the number of white children in poverty despite Hispanics being only 16.3% of the total population. No wonder the opportunity gap is ever-widening.
Another panelist, Tom Shapiro, proposed that perhaps the reason we have lost so much ground in comparison to other developed countries is because 25% of our nation’s children are in poverty. For these children especially, high quality early childhood education is of utmost importance but unfortunately, it is still very hard to garner support to address these issues.
Additional points of discussion included the racial wealth gap, the gender wealth gap, undocumented youth and the paradox of government programs that help to stabilize the lives of people living in poverty without providing enough support to help raise them up out of poverty and the incredible cost to the nation of these programs with no end in sight.
Despite the severity of the problems raised, the keynote speaker Bob Herbert, offered hope with two simple steps that we all can take to make a step in the right direction- raise consciousness and act together. CAYL strongly believes in these principles as well and perhaps they are the keys not only to solving the issue of poverty in America or to work towards equality in early childhood education for all children, but for any problem, whether it be within your program, in your community, nationally or globally.
If you are interested in learning more, here are a few links: