Education Access Delayed is Access Denied
Deepa Fernandes interviewed me on the 6:15 a.m. spot on WBAI this morning. I welcomed the opportunity to bring a new perspective to the policy discussion and I had few things left to say. Poverty is rising in New York. The census bureau figures show that statewide child poverty has risen to 20 percent. In New York City, child poverty has risen to 31 percent. There are 2.8 million people living in poverty in NYS and millions more just above poverty levels. Employment and income statistics all reaffirm education as a route out of poverty. Yet, access is denied to the most vulnerable.
I was able to share with Deepa's listeners that almost 90 percent of the women receiving welfare who attain a college degree move permanently from welfare and route of poverty and take their families with them. The same studies show that parents who advance in education and training have a positive impact on their children. In addition to increasing household income, the model of pursuing education leads children to do the same.
Right now, some in government want to be praised just because 54 percent of NYC high school students are graduating in 4 years. What about the 46 percent who are not graduating? We know that a vast number of students in the public school system come from families that receive public assistance. At WRI, (Welfare Rights Initiative) we work with students who evidence the struggle it is for teens from poor families to graduate for high school and get into college. There are students right now being told college is not for them. What thinking politician could support anything other than access to education for all, including people receiving welfare? How can we get our education and welfare policies in line with our values and economic realities?
New York City can start today. A first step: just implement the laws already on the books.