This candidate did not answer the specific questions in Poverty Action’s questionnaire by out publishing deadline, but instead sent this letter:

I am sorry that I am getting this to you so late – I have attempted many times but am left with so little time that I am sending you this response.

First, I would like to thank you for organizing on this matter. I raised 2 children as a single mother, while working full time and participating in PTA to stay in touch with their environment.

I watch many children grow up and was active with more than just my own. The issues that I ran into while raising kids at the poverty level generally stemmed from the societal attitude that they grew up in.

Most important, if you want a child of poverty to succeed there needs to be a broad form of acceptance – racially, socially, economically – ALL children are precious.

Programs and activities that give children, all ages, an opportunity to advance to the level of lifestyle they seek have to be more focused on character building and not on dwelling on their situation. I don’t think that we achieve this by creating a cookie-cutter model in K-12 for each child to be molded into. I believe the acceptance and encouragement of diversity and unique talents during early stages with guidance and support allows a child to value himself, improve on his strengths and feels more connected to his community.

After raising children in poverty – I pulled this from that experience:

1. I would not have traded any moment for all of the money in the world.

2. Economic class does NOT make a family.

3. While some people experience negative impacts from being poor and deserve every opportunity to elevate themselves, not every poor person is miserable.

4. Our Education system, as we know it, is perpetuating the suffering of many by bottle-necking every child into the “ripe-for-college” mold. First, college is not for everyone and this is setting up a lot of kids for failure. It is not right that we prejudge at an early, impressionable age. Second, college is more often an unreachable goal – especially to children of poverty – and unfair value is placed on those with degrees vs. those without. Every level of achievement should be valued – a CEO or a Janitor – they both have something to offer to their families, their communities, their workplaces.

5. To really believe in the guarantee of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, lifestyle choices need to be left to the individual, without mandates, without prejudice, without hate.


I do have more to say, but I think there is a word limit, so I will end here and forward this to you.

Than you for listening,

Lynda Messner