The U.S. has one of the highest relative child poverty rates in the developed world.(portside.org)
By the numbers, what does poverty look like in American public schools?
In 1989, 32% of the nation’s public school students were low-income.In 2000, the rate increased to over 38%By 2006, the national rate was 42%In 2011 to 48%In 2012 the rate rose to barely below one-half –49.6%
In 2014, 44% of all free lunch participants were under age 18
Today more than ever, education remains the key to escaping poverty, while poverty remains the biggest obstacle to education (Scientific Learning).
A few years ago I met a gentleman whom I only knew at the time as a physics teacher at a local public high school. He had been in the business industry for many years, and decided to pursue a long-held passion to teach high school physics. In a conversation at Starbucks one morning he asked me what I thought the biggest problem was in public education. I felt as if the house lights dimmed, the spotlight came on, and a podium with a microphone suddenly appeared. Someone had finally asked me the question. I had prepared for this moment. I was ready. But being the perennial teacher, I asked him to respond first. He went into a lucid, logical explanation about accountability. Administrators, teachers, students parents, he said, were not accountable for their jobs. There is validity to his statement. But that might be to the question of what are some issues schools face, and not the question of the biggest problem. Now it was my turn. I tapped the microphone twice to ensure my audience of one would hear me, and began.
Schools in low socioeconomic areas are underfunded when compared to higher socioeconomic neighborhoods. They tackle chronic issues with a chronic lack of resources. (Huff Post)
Many children raised in poverty don’t begin the race at the same starting line as their suburban counterparts, thus they spend so much time just trying to catch up. In academic terms, this is an achievement gap. How do we narrow the achievement gap? First, address poverty. Allow living wages for families to make enough money to be independent. This will allow for all the needs of their children to be met. Provide schools with what they need to be successful (universal preschool, is a great start).
If a child comes to school hungry and leaves school hungry, how can that child compete with the classmate who doesn’t have to worry about food, violence? (Education Dive).