Washington—Statement of AFT President Randi Weingarten on the 50th anniversary of the war on poverty.
“Fifty years after President Johnson declared an unconditional war on poverty, the battle rages on. For too many of our families, the American dream has slipped further and further out of reach. The need to eradicate poverty and create opportunity and shared prosperity is as great now as it was 50 years ago.
“Today, nearly 22 percent of our children, and nearly 50 million Americans, live in poverty. Half of all public school children are poor—and the numbers are even higher in the South and the West. No nation can achieve economic and educational justice and shared growth and prosperity while ignoring gross inequality. For too long, our nation has pursued an agenda of austerity and trickle-down economics that has failed to propel Americans into the middle class.
“Government alone is not a solution for all of society’s problems. But in a capitalist democracy, government has an obligation to ensure basic economic and educational opportunity for all its citizens. That means valuing and respecting work through an adequate minimum wage, real immigration reform and ensuring working people have the freedom to form strong unions. It means reclaiming the promise of public education with strong neighborhood public schools, and investing in pre-K, multiple pathways to graduation and wraparound services to address the social, emotional and health needs of children. And it means guaranteeing a basic safety net to keep our families healthy and secure and to ensure that, after a lifetime of hard work, we can retire with dignity.”
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