By Dr. Tyra Seldon
Why do some children perform so poorly in school? Some practitioners and researchers point to an American culture that is generally apathetic about education. Others suggest that inadequate facilities and poorly trained, underpaid teachers are the true culprits. Yet another school of thought would advocate that everything could be traced back to a lack of parental involvement.
A new study argues that the ultimate villain is poverty.
A recent report titled, “Poverty and Education, Finding the Way Forward” suggests that 22% of all American children live in poverty. According the report, the United States has the second highest child poverty rate of the world’s 35 richest nations (second only to Romania).
The authors believe that children raised in poor households are less likely to finish school; they will grow up to earn less than their peers do; and they are three times as likely to have poor health. In addition, poor males are twice as likely to be arrested whereas poor women are five times more likely to have children outside of marriage. Coupled together, the effects of childhood poverty costs the United States an estimated $500 billion a year.
The study suggests that the educational system needs to be revamped to meet the needs of poor children. Amongst other solutions, the study advocates rethinking how funds are allocated for schools in high poverty areas; increasing access to high quality early learning centers; and addressing the racial and economic segregation that is prevalent in most American schools.
Of course, this is not the first study to highlight a correlation between poverty and educational outcomes. What makes this educational study unique is the fact that it begs the question of how one of the richest nations in the world can have some of its poorest children?