Kids Lose Their Future to Poverty

Now that one school year is over and we are preparing for the next, June is a month of reflection for educators and parents on how to do better [for the] next school year. It is hard enough for students to learn at school in today’s world. You throw in overcrowding, teacher-to-student ratios, poverty affecting too many students, and lack of funding for supplies, and it becomes almost impossible for the average student to get ahead.

The New York Daily News reported that in New York City, 6,313 classes were [considered] overcrowded based on the teacher’s union contract, which sets 34 kids [per classroom] as the limit in high schools and 25 [kids per classroom] in Kindergarten. In these classrooms, kids were sitting on the floors or standing the whole period. It is tough to imagine how children can function in these overcrowded situations, let alone how can teachers concentrate and keep the kids interested. How can these kids learn when they are sitting on top of each other?

[Adding to this], 16 million children in the United States, [or] 22% of all [U.S.] children, live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level of $23,550 a year […] for a family of four, according to the National Center of Children in Poverty. These children are far more likely to have limited access to sufficient food, [a]nd with Congress cutting […] $8.6 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program […] earlier this year, these kids just got a little bit hungrier. The states where the most kids go hungry include New Mexico at 29.2%, Mississippi at 28.7%, Arizona at 28.2%, and Georgia and Nevada, both at 28.1%. How can these kids learn when they go to school hungry?

Now look at the 1.2 million children in the United States who are homeless. […] According to the American Institutes for Research, homeless children have four times as many respiratory infections, twice as many ear infections, five times more gastrointestinal problems, and [are] four times more likely to have asthma. [W]hen at school, they have three times the rate of emotional and behavioral problems compared to non-homeless children. How can these kids learn when they have so many personal problems?

Poverty and poor performance go hand in hand in school. reports that children living in poverty have a higher [rate] of absenteeism, or [they] leave school altogether because they are more likely to have to work or care for family members. Dropout [rates among] 16- [to] 24-year-old students from low-income families are seven times [higher] than those from families with higher income[s]. By the end of the fourth grade, low-income students are already two years behind, and, by the 12th grade, they are four years behind. How can these kids perform [well as] adults when they fall so far behind in school?

The U.S. educational system is ranked as the 14th best in the world. South Korea is No. 1, followed by Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Finland, [the] United Kingdom, Canada, [t]he Netherlands, Ireland, Poland, Denmark, Germany and Russia. Why is the most powerful nation in the world ranked in the middle of the pack in educating its children? Last year, $1.15 trillion was spent on education in the United States, of which 10.8% came from federal funds and the rest from state and local contributions. You would think that is enough to educate every student, rich or poor, but, obviously, it [is not].

The United States sure has a lot of things to fix to break into the top 10. […] Since the vast majority of funding for education falls back to the states and […] communities, local help is where it has got to begin. It has to fix the children who go hungry and the children of the poor. There are great organizations to contribute to for this, like Save the Children and the Children’s Defense League. […] We have to fix the homeless children situation, [a]nd, somehow, we have to get the right equipment into the hands of these poor kids—the right books, pencils, paper and calculators—so they can keep up with everyone else in their classrooms. […]

I wish we could just flip a switch and poverty and hunger and homelessness would disappear for our kids, but we all know that won’t happen. Who chooses [which] kids are born into wealth and those who are born to live on the streets? Who chooses the kids who suffer in overcrowded schools or those who go to schools with sophisticated arts, music and computer programs? Back in 1918, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Creed, which states, “The United States of America is a government of the people, by the people and for the people, established on the principles of freedom, equality, justice and humanity for all.” It is up to all of us to bring these poor, hungry and homeless children up to the standards our forefathers envisioned for all of us, and we need to start today.

Original article here:

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.