Posts Tagged ‘vicious cycle of poverty’

Startling Data Points SHOULD Serve as Impetus for Investment in Human Capital

May 2, 2021 Leave a comment

Nick Kristof’s essay in today’s NYTIMES offers two startling data points in it’s penultimate paragraph: we have as many citizens with criminal records as college graduates; and 10 counties in Mississippi have higher infant mortality rates than Bangladesh. Given that reality, how can we put more money into law enforcement while starving public schools? How can we not insist that every state provide prenatal health care? While the GOP tries desperately to shift the focus away from these unseemly facts, the Democrats fail to share them widely. Invest in children now if you want law and order in the future. Arguing about terminology won’t solve our problems… making voters face these kinds of facts might.

Diane Ravitch Offers Concise Evisceration of 30 Years of Failed School Reform

March 17, 2021 Comments off

In her recent Common Dreams post, Diane Ravitch offers a clear and concise evisceration of 30 years of “school reform”. The billionaires who want to privatize public education prefer their solution of testing, competition and choice to spending the money needed to lift parents and children out of poverty… they “gladly fund “reforms” that require chicken feed, as compared to the taxes necessary to truly make zip codes irrelevant.” She doesn’t say so in this post, but she underscores the real reason for their enthusiasm for “competition and choice”: they all want to be the founder of the Walmart analog to public schools… but they are ending up with a Dollar Store analog instead. 

Riding the Bus Routes to Deliver Meals to Homes is Eye Opening Experience in Rural New England

March 11, 2021 Comments off

Our local newspaper, the Valley News, invited readers to share their personal stories about the pandemic and today’s piece by veteran teacher Ted Pogacar reminded me how important it is for educators to become familiar with the homes children live in… and how impossible that is when things are “normal”.

To his credit, Mr. Pogacar does not mention the squalor I am certain he must have witnessed in some of the homes he visited but instead focuses on the work of the unsung heroes who keep track of the households that need additional food and help mete out the provisions available.

The article brought to mind my first year working as Principal in Western Maine, an assignment I took after teaching in an economically depressed section of Philadelphia and serving as Assistant Principal in a blue collar suburb whose fortunes were on the decline. My experience in rural New England was recreational: hiking and camping in the White Mountains as a child and sightseeing and hiking as an adult. When visiting rural New England I was stuck by its serene woods, stunning mountain landscapes, clear waters in the brooks that cascade out of the mountains, and separation from the bustle and problems of the city. When I started talking to the counselors, office staff, custodians, and colleagues who lived in the beautiful region where I landed I heard stories of the economic hardship children in the school experienced, stories that were much like those I encountered in West Philadelphia and the “rough and tumble” district I worked in just outside of Philadelphia. The peaceful woods hid the many ramshackle homes that children in school lived in and the clean, well cared for town centers masked the poverty that spread throughout the back country.

The impact of poverty in urban areas is clear and obvious. Boarded up buildings, poorly maintained public spaces, and treeless desolate streets all signal a neighborhoods distress. The distress in rural New England is not obvious at first glance… but the bus drivers witness it daily, the cafeteria workers know the kids who need to get seconds, and the teachers and counselors who connect with children raised in poverty all know the hardships they endure. The lone guidance counselor who served the 700 middle and high school students in the high school I led took me on a trip through the woods when I first came so that I would be aware that not every child came from the kinds of homes in town that I was familiar with or was raised in the kind of household I knew as a child. It made me appreciate that rural poverty poses the same challenges for children as poverty in the urban areas… and those challenges are far more daunting than anything I encountered growing up.