The impact of poverty and out-of-school factors in the news

Central to City Connects’ work is the belief that addressing the “out-of-school” factors impacting students helps them come to school ready to learn and thrive. Children living in poverty face especially pervasive and severe out-of-school factors, like hunger, homelessness, and violence. Three recent articles from Education Week address different aspects of these out-of-school factors and are worth a read:

  • Time to Put Forward a New Reform Agenda
    On EdWeek‘s “Bridging Differences” blog, NYU professor Pedro Noguerawrites, about the importance of urgently addressing the needs of children living in poverty. “…Poverty is harming millions of children and the schools they attend, but we can’t take the position that nothing can be done until we eliminate poverty … their parents don’t want to hear that we have to wait till we muster the will to reduce poverty. Moreover, there are schools that are showing us right now that if we address the academic and social needs of poor children, they can not only achieve, they can thrive.Noguera calls for the federal government to create “a comprehensive support systems around schools in low-income communities to address issues such as safety, health, nutrition, and counseling,” which is similar to City Connects’ work.
  • Must Teachers Shut Down Our Compassion to Survive Education Reform?
    Another EdWeekblog, “Living in Dialogue,” used the adversity faced by victims of Hurricane Sandy to show how teachers can respond to students who have experienced trauma. Because the hurricane affected everyone, “teachers cannot help but respond and modify their instruction. This normalizes the trauma for these students and allows them to see that their feelings of helplessness and frustration, even depression, are normal and can be shared. However, in the case of the storms of poverty, the evictions, the foreclosures, the divorces, the days when there is no dinner to eat, the night their father is arrested and sent away for years – these insults to their being are individual and almost always hidden. They are hidden because the students are ashamed of being poor.”Author Anthony Dowd, a former teacher, wrote, argues that schools and teachers need to respond to the effects of poverty as they did the hurricane: “We do not require that poverty be fixed before we can teach, but we insist that it be responded to, as it often interferes with the healthy growth of the children we care about.”
  • Research Traces Impacts of Childhood Adversity
    And finally, a research story from EdWeek about the relationship between childhood adversity and poor academic achievement. “The stress of a spelling bee or a challenging science project can enhance a student’s focus and promote learning. But the stress of a dysfunctional or unstable home life can poison a child’s cognitive ability for a lifetime, according to new research. While educators and psychologists have said for decades that the effects of poverty interfere with students’ academic achievement, new evidence from cognitive and neuroscience is showing exactly how adversity in childhood damages students’ long-term learning and health. Those studies show that stress forms the link between childhood adversity and poor academic achievement, but that not all adversity—or all stress—is bad for students.”

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