September 16, 2010
Cynthia Leonor Garza
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
On Census Figures Showing Spike in Poverty
Students Need Wraparound Services in Schools To Address Unmet Needs
The U.S. Census figures in its report, “Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2009,” released today, show the number of Americans living in poverty—43.6 million—is the highest in more than a half-century of record keeping.
WASHINGTON—Today’s disheartening Census Bureau figures show that the devastating effects of the prolonged economic recession are continuing—poverty levels are the highest ever recorded. Living in poverty can greatly affect children’s performance in school. Now, more than ever, there’s an urgent need to address the conditions both inside and outside of schools that will help disadvantaged children and their families.
Wraparound services provided in schools by city or county agencies, community organizations, and nonprofit groups help address the unmet needs of disadvantaged kids and their families. After-school academic programs; health, dental and social services; job banks; housing counseling and information; and GED and training programs for parents all help eliminate the barriers to success for students and entire communities.
In Cincinnati; Providence, R.I.; Philadelphia; and St. Paul, Minn.—among other cities—community schools are helping raise school enrollment, reduce disruptive behavior, improve test scores, and strengthen relationships between business, community and education partners.
As parents still struggle to find jobs and grapple with life’s stresses, families and communities should be able to look to our schools as a source of stability, and a source for services that can get students and their families back on track. We recognize that wraparound services are not in and of themselves enough—kids also need high quality instruction, great teachers, supported principals and a rich, robust curriculum
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The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.