When analyzing the causes of poverty and ultimately the consequences that poverty can create on children. We need to, not only, look at all sides that cause poverty, but also how they impact the children and their ability to learn. Poverty can easily be defined as the state of being extremely poor; another definition of poverty is, when a person and or family lives below the poverty line which is the estimated minimum level of income needed to afford the necessities of life.
A factor that leads to an increase in poverty is known as ‘Generational Continuance’. This is the completion of parental education beyond high school, and their ability to help their children by guiding them to better their life and making sure they have the knowledge and life skills to, earn better income and get better jobs. When looking at schools in impoverished areas; the lack of funding, food insecurities, and lack of resources at home are the biggest factors that hinder a students ability to learn and the schools ability to educate.
As the U.S. economy continues to improve after the recession in ‘08; one area that is still facing the long lasting effects from the recession is public school spending and the funding that they have been allotted. The areas that have been hit the hardest are the areas with the highest rate of poverty. The schools in these areas do not have the proper tools to teach the students.
With the cuts to public education, the schools cannot afford books, or any of the tools, that teachers need to be able to teach the students. One of the factors that lead to this issue is that property taxes pay for most of public education. In these areas the cost of a home and the income level is still significantly less than in wealthier areas (10, et al). Since 2014 a minimum of 31 states have provided less state funding per student than in previous years and in at least 15 states cuts in school budgets have exceeded 10 percent and continue to grow.
Philadelphia and Chicago have reached the extreme cases where individual school districts have had to tap into different resources in order to cover some of the gaps in their budgets – nutrition and transportation. Schools need adequate money to be able to teach the students to their potential. Without books, music classes, chairs, desks, school lunches, and busing programs; how are the teachers supposed to be able to teach these kids that come in tired, hungry, and in need of an adult to guide them. Instead these teachers, and students, are being set up to fail. With class sizes growing every year, many having 35 – 45 kids per class, many students get overlooked, many of the students have learning disabilities that go unnoticed and undiagnosed, and are just passed to the next grade without the fundamental knowledge needed to succeed in the next grade.
This is done, many times, rather than hold the child back, so it becomes someone else’s problem. We need to increase funding to the public schools, especially to the poorer areas. If we could increase the funding, so schools have the amount they need to educate their students; we (the USA) could better educate and increase the odds for these kids that are born into poverty, a chance to get out of poverty. All they need is a little help to get them to reach their potential. Children living in poverty often do not have enough food or a balanced diet; and it is not unheard of, that the only balanced meal that they have is their school lunch. These kids go to school without enough sleep and in conjunction with the lack of proper nutrition makes learning difficult. There are many food banks and churches that collect food, to then pack and send packages of food home on Fridays so the children can have meals over the weekend.
Proper nutrition is paramount to the child’s development, without the proper nutrition, these kids struggle to learn. When a child gets up, goes to school hungry, they cannot concentrate. Not only do they not have the energy to concentrate, but all they think about is their belly growling. It is virtually impossible for these students to get ahead and find a way out of the circumstances they were born into when their focus is not on learning so they can provide for themselves in the future but on how they can provide for their existence now. Without the help of free school lunches, and some schools offering free breakfast, many kids would feel like they are living in a third world country. They see how others live – food on the table, clothes on their back, & parents who are able to help guide them to a better future, and wonder how they can get access to a better life. I know this feeling because I was once there.
I went to a school that couldn’t afford books (we had to share) and many of the student body was on discounted lunches; but, one of the differences for me was my parents. My parents were there for me and made sure that I had food, even though some nights they didn’t, and provided me guidance to make sure I succeeded and did not stumble into ‘Generational Continuance’. The children not only have to deal with being malnourished, but they often experience family violence, and neglect. Parents who are trying to raise their children in poverty often cannot help a child with homework because they are working when their child comes home, they may not understand the homework, or they cannot read. Many cannot afford to get the basic school supplies students are asked to provide in order to complete their work.
Many of the children are what is known as “latchkey kids”. These are kids that many times prepare for school by themselves and return home, after school, without someone there to supervise them. This lack of supervision often leads to the children getting into trouble. Most of these children have never experienced anything outside their city block. Experiences can be the greatest teacher, but because they live in poverty and can only afford the basics to live, they lose out on these experiences and opportunities to learn what the world has to offer. What can happen is that these kids in poverty might turn to the military to gain that world experience. Many times it is the school that provides the only contact with the rest of the world through access to internet or even just basic books.
Most children born into poverty live in poverty as adults. It’s very difficult to pull themselves out of poverty when you do not have the tools – education and support, to get a higher education, get a better job, and experience, not only does what the world has to offer open up, but also what one can offer the world. There is never an easy solution when involving money and education.That is why government solutions such as no child left behind and school lunch programs were created to help solve some of these issues. While these are stepping stones, continuous effort is needed to improve and create new programs in this ever evolving economy.