Currently over half of public school students in the US are living at or below the poverty line. This leaves the vast majority of those children at a disadvantage in school because academic success is the least of their worries. The Washington Post informs us that “Of the 27 states with highest percentages of student poverty, all but five spent less than the national average of $10,938 per student.” With programs like Head Start on the chopping block, one understands why the gap of academic achievement increases as the school-to-prison pipeline lives on.
Continuing to expect children who live in poverty to perform just as well as privileged children seems to have become counterproductive. While increasing the amount of funds allocated to public schools would be helpful, what would be even more helpful is establishing programs that give disadvantaged children an extra push to level out the educational “playing field”. Training teachers to be able to access the needs of each student is imperative. Additionally, after school programs, learning tools that can be taken home, clean clothes, and toiletries for each child who goes without would help them to feel normal if only during the school day.
Making a point to become aware of the lack of resources within impoverished communities of color, Julius Rosenwald would more than likely have given a sufficient amount of funds to each school. This individualistic approach would allow each school form a unique plan tailored to the needs of their students, unlike No Child Left Behind that ultimately does not help to narrow the achievement gap. The Rosenwald Fund encourages independence and self-reliance while financially assisting each person/program, which are what educational systems in the US desperately need to help disadvantaged students flourish.
To read the Washington Post article, click here.
Erica Marshall, Winter Intern