Solution in Our Midst

New York Teachers magazine cover with headline article about poverty and hunger affecting our youth.

My husband teaches language arts in our local middle school and he receives publications from NYSUT (New York State United Teachers). I was struck by the recent cover photo and the statistic: 1 in 4 children in New York live in poverty.

When I think of poverty, the first thing that comes to mind is food: having enough food. The idea that a child who doesn’t have enough food can’t function well in the classroom makes sense to me. The idea that 1 in 4 children experience this in my state is mind-boggling. I do know, however, that we haven’t met the need for food in our community and that the same is true in other communities.

The article focuses on the gap between the rich and the poor:

  • Poverty as the daily reality,  the fundamental obstacle that educators, health care workers and public service providers face each day – in rural, suburban or urban communities.
  • Economic policy, deregulation, tax structure, political will, debt battle, government shut down, polarization
  • The widening gap between rich and poor, the hollowing out of the middle class.
U.S. Capitol Building dome.

The article states that there is “little to suggest that change is in sight” which is typically where we end up in our adult conversations. There is little to suggest change is in sight because we continue to look in the direction of the above. As adults, we have created complicated scenarios and we argue within this web. We argue more than we accomplish. Well not all of us. It’s time we turned our attention to the solution makers.

Some of us have heard about Pam Koner or the project called Family-to-Family. Some of us have joined with her to create the solution that is needed: shared prosperity. Pam is a project originator, a role model, someone who can help us replicate. We can build with her, with those who already do. We can educate our children about this need and solution. We can participate with our children.

Two young children getting on a school bus in their neighborhood.

It’s time we turned the the focus of education and the attention of our youth toward the solution makers – to learn from them, become involved with them. It’s time to provide opportunity for our youth – the next generation – to participate in generating these solutions; to learn how to work together with clear goals, how to tend to the self and to others; to experience how good it feels to accomplish goals and make things better.

All that we need, we have. We have allowed the wrong models to take center stage for too long. We are more intelligent than this. We need to look in the direction of where the real power to change lies – among ourselves as a people. We are doing it – in small and large scale. We just have yet to position what we have to hit the home run and see our efforts come together in truly large scale.