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Break cycle of poverty by educating parents

I do agree with Rod Watson’s assumption in his April 11 column, “Buffalo risks wallowing in its sad labels,” that poverty and segregation are synonymous in that economic status often dictates what community one lives in. Obviously, affordable housing is the key factor in where one lives. Section 8 tries to rectify that with vouchers, and HOME with its funding. However, rather than moving to “opportunity” communities, as Watson says, I think we should be looking to save communities.

We already have the “sad labels” of a region with the third-highest poverty rate in the United States and the third-worst graduation rate in the state. I believe this cycle of a poor education and poverty will continue unless we can get parents to be responsible for their children’s education along with the schools. I believe without the participation of parents, our schools will continue to fail. Our schools are failing now even with record monies being spent per student.

How do we break the cycle of a poor education when the parents themselves were victims of a poor education? We need the priorities of family values, morals, ethics and religious beliefs, which are community-based and enforced by social and peer pressure that holds one accountable for one’s actions and stresses the value of education. We need more than the charity of strangers or “enlightened government policy” to break this cycle. We need to educate parents on how to help teach their children. We need more people who care to become involved, to become activists. We need to create good jobs by generating development.

And most of all we need a community effort led by true community leaders, not necessarily our elected officials, who are hindered by the political baggage of owed favors and corruption.

Russell J. Fenton

West Seneca