Reflection

Poverty and Education

This reflection can be used with Taylor Davenport's interview, Project Transformation: No One Solution. It includes an excerpt from Richard Rothstein's...

Poverty and Education

This reflection can be used with Taylor Davenport's interview, Project Transformation: No One Solution. It includes an excerpt from Richard Rothstein's article, "Whose Problem is Poverty."


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The following is an excerpt from Richard Rothstein's article, "Whose Problem is Poverty."
 

It's no cop-out to acknowledge the effects of socioeconomic disparities on student learning. Rather, it's a vital step to closing the achievement gap.
 

Low-income children often have no health insurance and therefore no routine preventive medical and dental care, leading to more school absences as a result of illness. Children in low-income families are more prone to asthma, resulting in more sleeplessness, irritability, and lack of exercise. They experience lower birth weight as well as more lead poisoning and iron-deficiency anemia, each of which leads to diminished cognitive ability and more behavior problems. Their families frequently fall behind in rent and move, so children switch schools more often, losing continuity of instruction.
 

Poor children are, in general, not read to aloud as often or exposed to complex language and large vocabularies. Their parents have low-wage jobs and are more frequently laid off, causing family stress and more arbitrary discipline. The neighborhoods through which these children walk to school and in which they play have more crime and drugs and fewer adult role models with professional careers. Such children are more often in single-parent families and so get less adult attention. They have fewer cross-country trips, visits to museums and zoos, music or dance lessons, and organized sports leagues to develop their ambition, cultural awareness, and self-confidence.
 

Each of these disadvantages makes only a small contribution to the achievement gap, but cumulatively, they explain a lot.

 

  • What responsibility do people of faith have in helping children in poverty succeed in educational settings?

  • How can we acknowledge the many layers of the education system while making a positive impact?

  • How can we invest in the system as a whole? In individual students? In teachers?

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