Poverty and Education – The Challenge of Improving Schools
There is growing consensus that the educational system in America is falling short when it comes to preparing our children for the future. As to the method for improving our current system today, the general focus centers upon increased accountability and a need for higher academic standards.
While there is little doubt that we have many schools in need of improvement, the idea that all of our educational woes are a result of under-performing schools and inadequate instruction is a gross over-simplification. As but one example that demonstrates the enormous complexity facing public schools in our country, we note this story of homeless children which aired Tuesday, March 31st, on PBS.
The story of Tiberius is one every public school critic should hear. Able to articulate his feelings of inadequacy, yet more withdrawn and carrying a burden that no one so young should ever have to shoulder, Tiberius’ educational progress this school year could never be adequately measured by a standardized test score.
Nor should the performance of his teacher be downgraded should Tiberius be unable to demonstrate the skills necessary for promotion. It is preposterous to think that the math or writing skills of a child in need of food and clothing are not affected by the student’s predicament.
As Ms. Hoople notes so well, sometimes “their emotions get in the way.”
And in these time of severe budget cuts, is it not increasingly clear why so many inner city schools cry out when social workers become the first of educational employees to fall victim to the budget knife?
But going back to those test scores and higher standards, the words of Mr. Hannemann certainly offer a different perspective:
“You do the best that you can with the time that you have; and you just keep moving forward.”
America may, in places, have issues with school quality. But watching this PBS story it is easy to see why so many people insist that school improvement measures cannot be handled in isolation, not until we as a country begin to deal with the other crisis affecting our kids: the growing number of them living in poverty.