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Don’t give up on our children

On Dec. 1, the Banner ran a story headlined Bennington is “Circling the drain, poverty affecting youngest in community,” covering a presentation called “Understanding Poverty” and presented by the American Association of University Women of Bennington and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Bennington. The article highlighted numerous sobering and very important facts about the negative impact of poverty on children.

Unfortunately, one of the presenters was quoted as saying “[b]y the time a kid gets to kindergarten, it’s too late.” This is not only patently false, it is also dangerous to the welfare of young children caught in poverty, by no fault of their own, because it gives permission to stop helping them. Fortunately, the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union and other area organizations do not share this view, and continue to do everything within their power to help lift children out of poverty.

Words matter. To say with such definiteness that “[b]y the time a kid gets to kindergarten, it’s too late” says far more about the holder of such an attitude than any child. I’m reminded of a quote from Tom Robbin’s book “Still Life with Woodpecker”: “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” Likewise, it is never too late for a child.

Rabbi Howard A. Cohen



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