1-in-5 campaign aims to combat childhood poverty

1-in-5 campaign poster

early one in five New York children live in poverty, a rate that exceeds the national average and overall poverty rates in both the state and country.

That’s why in January, NYSUT and a coalition of child, family and community stakeholders announced a combined push to confront the root causes and harsh effects of poverty on hundreds of thousands of students across the state.

Child poverty is an education issue, NYSUT President Melinda Person said, and educators see its effects every day.

More than 700,000 children enter classrooms each morning with the burdens of homelessness, unaddressed health concerns, lack of basic hygiene products, and the stigma and stress surrounding a life of poverty. If children are worried about survival, they will be unable to learn.

“If we really want to address deeply rooted issues that are affecting our students’ ability to learn and demonstrate their learning, and if we really want every student to live up to their natural potential, we need to stop ignoring New York’s child poverty problem and actually address it,” Person said at a press conference to launch the campaign. “No, we cannot solve childhood poverty here today, but we can use the enormous amount of resources in New York to disrupt the cycle of poverty for one in five children and their families.”

The One-in-Five coalition includes state lawmakers, Citizen Action of New York, New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness, New York State Council of Churches, Alliance for Quality Education, Strong Economy For All Coalition, New York State AFL-CIO, Hunger Solutions New York and the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy.

The group is supporting transformative policy measures that include a broad expansion of the community school model, state legislation to ensure every student receives free school meals, and bills that would provide economic security to low-income families and pregnant women.

“Poverty is not inevitable. It is a policy choice. And we can fight back. We know how to do it. And these decisions are decisions that are made here at a state and national level,” Person said.

Learn more at 1in5ny.org.