Poverty is the unfortunate reality of many Americans who arrive to a home without proper heat or plumbing and an empty refrigerator. Not only do Americans face this sad truth, but people around the world deal with this and it’s even worse for some. Poverty should not have to exist in this world. Founder of Harlem Children’s Zone Geoffrey Canada shares his thoughts in the New York Times on this devastating matter and declares his intake on how to take the issue head on. Canada will be a featured speaker at our National Forum this year in Harlem. Be sure to register here:

“President Lyndon B. Johnson’s war on poverty was a federal response to what was perceived as an American crisis: an official poverty rate of about 19 percent (though experts say the real rate was even higher). While some are critical of the results, suggesting that it was largely responsible for the creation of a “welfare state,” there are others who point to Head Start, Medicaid and food stamps and correctly note that millions would be in much more dire circumstances today if not for these programs. With the current poverty rate at 15 percent and child poverty at an even more tragic 22 percent (more than 16 million children), we should once again declare a war on poverty, focusing first on three things: education, the minimum wage and tax credits for the working poor.

Education is the only surefire way to eradicate poverty. We must not abandon education-reform efforts aimed at closing the achievement gap. There is a growing movement among critics of reform for a return to the “good old days” before calls for closing failing schools, teacher evaluations and the creation of charter schools. Those days were a disaster for the poor, especially black and Latino children. These critics of reform are like a modern-day Nero, yearning to play the fiddle while poor children’s lives are destroyed.

Adults who are working should be able to provide the minimum for their families: food, shelter, clothing. Employment must provide a significantly better life than unemployment. While there is the chance that raising the minimum wage could lead to lay-offs, I know too many families that are working two jobs and still can’t afford the bare necessities. We need to support the earned income tax credit and the childcare tax credit. They are effective, efficient ways to help the working poor.

A new war on poverty should ensure that all children have a real shot at earning a live-able wage and that families who are doing the right thing – working – can still sustain themselves.”

Read the original piece here.