Monday, January 31, 2011
The Role of Poverty in Education - Revisited
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I have said here before that my main problem with the education reform movement is that it largely ignores the role of poverty upon a child's ability to learn. Even if we eliminated every bad teacher, and I concede that there are some bad teachers- I had a few myself!, children from poor families will still do worse on standardized tests than rich kids.
Others have gone into more detail on this topic. Poor kids come to school hungry and often scared. They are not read to by their parents and they don't have a lot of models for how to study. They have ready access to drugs, gangs and violence as the most apparent solution to problems. They come to bat with more than two strikes.
The best way to improve our schools would clearly be to eliminate- or at least to reduce- poverty. We would no longer be # 18 or # 34 on the lists of national school systems.
I was reminded of this issue last week when a poor black woman from Ohio was convicted of a felony for sending her kids to a richer school system. The Judge sentenced her to jail time to make an example out of her. You cannot put your poor kids in a rich school system. Great! We cannot catch Osama Bin Laden, but we sure got that Kelley Williams-Bolar! Here is a news article on her sentencing.
I'm not sure how this is a special education issue exactly, but I imagine that reducing poverty would help all education- special and otherwise. Aren't we too great of a nation to allow our kids to have so little of a chance at getting an education?
Am I wrong? What do you think?