Let’s Drop Everything and Address Poverty in Education

Erasing PovertyAccording to the 2011 U.S. Census Bureau, the poverty line is defined as a family of four (two adults and two children under 18) that earns less than $23,021 per year. And although it’s startling to imagine a family of four struggling to live on this income, over 46 million Americans are indeed doing just that. As of 2011, 46.2 million Americans are living at or below the poverty line. Reports for 2013 suggest that there are now over 50 million Americans living in poverty, which equates to 15% of the total population (CNN). And to say that the economical upbringing of a child has a direct effect on his/her education is an understatement; therefore, we must address the issue of poverty in education in order to address the equality of education. Doing so will ensure bright futures for the 50+ million individuals struggling to improve their lives.Our Abstract Ideology of Poverty

Poverty is not a concept, a theoretical framework, or a notion. Poverty is the person in line behind you at the grocery store. Poverty is, statistically, three out of 20 children sitting in your classroom. Poverty is concrete, identifiable, and is increasing more rapidly now than in any other time in history. In order to address poverty, we must first address ourselves. How do we talk about issues relating to poverty? And are our talks progressive? If not, we must begin establishing active groundwork for our thinking. We must think, talk, then act.

Poverty’s Effects in the Classroom

When parents are more worried about keeping the electricity on at home, their ability to act as parental advocates for their children is compromised (Read: “Understanding the Cognitive Demands of Poverty on our Students”). As a scaffolding point, parental advocacy is tied to student success, putting families struggling under the poverty line in an even greater disadvantage. And because parental advocacy is compromised, other manifested criteria produce visible symptoms: hunger, lack of availability to materials (notebooks, pencils, etc.), etc.

A Call to Action

Among our ever-increasing talks of integrating technology and advancing student learning, let’s not lose sight of the most fundamental problem in the American education system – the equality of education for all students. We must re-focus our attention on the access to equal education and elevate the status of the 50+ million Americans that are struggling to be the advocates for themselves. In short, we need to be the advocates for those that cannot be advocates for themselves, especially in Wyoming. 

We must think, talk, then act. Let’s do more of the latter and put our thoughts and words into action.