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The Real Issues on Sesame Street

If you’ve been following the presidential election lately, it’s hard to miss the talk lately about subsidies for public television and the popular children’s television show, Sesame Street.

What’s missing from this conversation (and in many campaigns so far), is how we really are failing Sesame Street by failing its viewers — kids.

Child poverty rates are at an all time high with almost one in five Nebraska kids living in poverty.  With the enactment of national child labor laws in the 1930s, we decided as a country decades ago that kids were not responsible for taking care of themselves.  In an ideal world, every kid would have their physical and emotional needs met by their parents — but what happens when parents aren’t meeting their children’s needs?  Who takes responsibility for them?  Under the best circumstances, maybe a caring relative can step in to help.  Under the worst circumstances, maybe no one ever really does.

With what we know about child poverty and the long term impact it can have on a child’s health, education, and development, being complacent about child poverty today means being ok with the strong likelihood that a certain percentage of our state’s kids are on a path that is unlikely to lead to success.

We’d like to hear more local, state, and national leaders talking about the real issues on Sesame Street — like access to health care for kids, child poverty, and education.  What’s more, we’d like to see them touting proven solutions — like investing in high quality early childhood education, improving tax credits for working families, and creating pathways to higher education.

Until then, we really do have a big problem on Sesame Street, and it’s arguably a much bigger problem than the one being talked about now.

Thank you to taking the time to share!


  1. REPLY
    Anne says

    So this is not a new issue. can you share the stats for the last 10-12 years? Want to make the case this is not a new issue

    • REPLY
      Jill Westfall says

      Anne, are you talking child poverty stats? Over the last 10 years, child poverty has risen. We started in 2000 with a child poverty rate of 10.0% and it has risen over the course of the decade to the current (2011) estimate of 18.1% – nearly doubling child poverty in Nebraska in a decade. We can dig into the numbers more if you need.

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