Poverty and Education Reform

The Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss has an important piece on her blog, The Answer Sheet, today: “Public education’s biggest problem gets worse.” The problem in question? Poverty.

The post is in response to startling data released yesterday by the US Census Bureau showing that the number of Americans living in poverty in 2010 increased to 46.2 million people, or 15.1%. This is the highest percentage in the 52 years that poverty estimates have been published, according to another Post story. Strauss writes:

The effects of poverty on children matter in regard to student achievement. That is not to say that efforts to improve teacher quality, modernize curriculum, infuse technology into the classroom where it makes sense and other reforms should not be pursued. But doing all of that while ignoring the conditions in which kids live is a big waste of time.

She then goes on to explain how poverty affects childrens’ academic achievement, psychosocial development, and health. This parallels what we do at City Connects and is what our School Site Coordinators focus on in schools (read more about how we support students academics, social/emotional, health, and family wellbeing). We believe that every child deserves to come to school ready to learn and thrive, and that every child can do this if his or her strengths are supported and needs addressed. Our 10 years of data prove that attending to the non-school factors that impact the lives of children is an effective strategy. Poverty cannot be ignored in the context of education reform.

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