Poverty and Education

I am well aware that there is poverty, I know that it is a problem, what I did not know however is how debilitating it could be for children in the U. S. The preconceived notion was that these kids are still going to get some sort of state support, public education is still available and that they can upon their own strife be able to get out of their poverty stricken situation. It was naive of me, perhaps I was clinging on to the fact that being a first world (and superpower) country, poor families would still find ways to live far better than their counterparts living in foreign states.

It’s really ironic, in a sense that the US holds the crown for protecting and promoting life, liberty, and property; yet we also have people barely able to eat three meals a day, people getting paid less than the minimum wage and much more working their backs to provide the needs of their kids only to wake up and realize that life hasn’t gone better in the last five years. Poverty hampers the attainment of good education for children. This is not to claim that public schools cannot teach our youth well (although this too is debatable).

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In researching on the effects of poverty on children, since I believe they are the ones devastatingly affected by it, I came across certain texts that showed just how much poor kids are unable to gain the most out of learning. This means that children with the background of poverty tends to have low academic performance, if not fail school altogether, have so little chance of pursuing a college degree, at times are at risk of becoming low-educated young parents, and consequently be submerged even further in their adulthood to a life of being poor.

In claiming that poverty is one of the major factors for low if not failing scholastic performance we must first see the situation a child from a poor family might face. There is a big possibility that the public school he/she will be entering is not fully prepared to address her circumstances. Take for example, the significant number of kids today whose family moves from place to place. Karen Pellino for example, mentions how this can affect students, by virtue of them always getting pulled out of their classes whenever the parents find the need to move.

We must understand that the reason for not having a permanent residence can be due to reasons beyond the family’s control. Some of them do it in hope of finding a better job, women do it to escape domestic violence bringing their kids with them so as to protect the latter; there are plenty of justifications, and maybe public schools have to take measures in order to address situations like these. Kids who move a lot tend to lose enthusiasm in their participating in school activities.

We should realize that aside from the academic hassles of not having a stable progress within the flow of lessons, there are emotional, psychological burdens can in fact taint the capacity and willingness of a child to learn. The inability to acquire stability can result to a youth’s decision to withdraw from participation, not wanting to gain peers, and of course the fact that they would tend to miss out on the flow of lessons.

I have come to the awareness that a lot of poverty stricken families also tend to have their kids take part-time jobs as early as their pre-teen years, if not older siblings are given the responsibility of the household most of the time since parents tend to work two jobs a day. This may result to the child’s possible sacrifice of her studies. In a sense that she may not have ample time to do study sessions, or she in her high school years choose to simply drop-out due to failure, lack of motivation, financial problems, early pregnancy et al.

Poverty makes our youth vulnerable to the ills of our society due to the lack of proper guidance. Being poor also means not being able to afford health care needs; while middle class children complain about needing to take medicines and even their vitamins, low income parents barely find the extra cash to buy their kids these things. I have a classmate in my middle school years for example, who tend to be absent often. It just so happens that she tended to get sick more often than others. I think it would be safe to assume that this is due to the fact that she had a lot of siblings, and her parents did have low income jobs.

It is only now that I come to realize that maybe the reason she got sick a lot was because of her financial situation. It could be the case then that she wasn’t able to get the proper nutritional requirements for kids like us then, maybe she lacked the medical attention she needed, maybe she just stayed home when she got ill because there wasn’t enough money to pay for the extra expenses of health care. The school is not always the safe haven of kids below the poverty line. At times have-not kids tend to become bullies, making the campus a domain for gangs, at times they can become the meek and secluded.

Explanations rendered as the cause of this is the fact that kids are well aware of their social status. It is the case that there are status quos, the less fortunate know that some kids are better off than them. This can send them the signal of alienation, of not belonging, which psychologists claim can indeed make them act out negatively as a form of self-defense. Low self-esteem can be common among less fortunate kids as early as grade school, and it could lead to much worse behavioral problems if not immediately addressed.

Parents play a huge part in the educational development of kids. However, when a teacher has students who belong to the lower class of the socio-economic strata, he/she better expect that there is a high possibility that parents would not always be around. Meaning, whenever he/she would could for parent-teacher consultations some of the folks might not be able to come due their work, some of them might feel a bit awkward and/or inferior in such meetings due to low-educational attainment as well, making it a preferred choice for them to simply not attend.

If children belonging to low socio-economic families find it difficult as it is to survive grade school, and high school, one is sure to discern that only a few, exceptional and inspirational, poverty raised youths today are able to enter universities. The majority of poor young adults cannot possibly afford the high cost of undergraduate education. Scholarships are extra hard to come by when records show that they do not have a glittering gold GPA.

The result of this is under if not unemployment, due to their low levels of education less fortunate kids would find themselves as grown ups engaging in meager jobs. There is also the possibility as mentioned earlier of having becoming a mom or dad even if one is economically, and emotionally not ready to have one. The reason for this may be one’s desire to get out of hostile home environment, or hope that marrying would make one’s troubles go away. Poor children don’t get to experience the same thing well-off or at least middle class kids do.

They don’t have the extra money to buy things that may aide their learning. While we cherish our iPods or MP3 players, as perhaps a necessary study companion, the majority of households poor kids belong to don’t even have a computer. They also don’t receive the same amount of guidance from their parents, they don’t get the chance to buy children’s books or go on family trips to the zoo. Learning takes a whole different angle for them, and this society must understand.

Now, if there is something which we must do to address this problem, it is to develop our educational system and make it equip to address the special circumstances of poor children in the classrooms. I realized that in so much as primary education is free; it could still be unaffordable in so many ways. I, we, should feel lucky, not everyone gets the chance to write an essay, and not everyone gets a chance to be part of a class. Funny, really, this was just another work load, but now it made me realize that I’m fortunate enough and ought to be glad about the fact that I’m getting a piece of the educational pie; and you should be too.