Education and training is the key to helping people climb out of poverty, and it is a climb. The mom is a young high school dropout with no formal training in how to raise a child, manage a household or live on her own. All that will have to be learned as a young adult.
Our community must begin to assess what is important to us as a community. Do we really want to have a community that heralds only 18.5 percent of our adults with a college education? Are we satisfied with 40 percent or more of our kids on free and reduced lunch? Do we plan to have a community that has opportunity and growth for all of its residents or just those with enough money to purchase opportunity or growth? Will we plan for a future for all our residents or just those deemed worthy? Will we continue to ignore the realities of our community while we plan for bridges, roads and jobs? Who will drive over those bridges or help to build them? Who will fill those jobs?
In the two counties covered by the News and Tribune, there were less than 500 families on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Welfare), but more than 11,000 people on food stamps. There is a disparity of wealth in our communities with a large amount of people struggling to get by. What do we need to do as a community to decrease those numbers?
I have always believed that human development was as important as community and economic development; that we lacked as a community because we didn’t plan for the “building up” of our own people.
It is common sense to focus on educating the future, stabilizing the present and respecting the past. In planning, we need to assess the truth about the community and that truth includes large segments of people in poverty, without health care and short on education.