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Poverty and Education

Posted by on Mar. 25, 2013 at 8:19 AM
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1 mom liked this

This article describes why living in poverty impacts education.  

Understanding the effects of poverty on education

Poverty and education

Photo: GettyImages

In my previous article, I discussed a phenomenon that is often overlooked by policymakers and pundits: how the experience of poverty produces its own psychology. Living in constant poverty, for example, is detrimental to both the decision-making process and to overall memory function.

Clinically, I often describe the experience of poverty as being similar to that of trauma, in that the experience of either produces significant psychological, physiological and neurological effects.

While many are fond of discounting poverty at the systemic level, perhaps the most unfortunate area where poverty has been overlooked is within education.

Amidst all of the buzzwords and soundbites that dominate popular and public discourse on education reform – the call for dismantling teachers’ unions, the drive to create charter schools, the fervor for standardized testing that accompanied the disastrous No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 – not many have been very interested in discussing the most powerful predictor of educational achievement: systemic poverty.

But as the research has consistently shown, the consequences of poverty for school-age children are both sobering and alarming.

For example, according to the American Psychological Association, children who live in poverty experience a lack of quality nutrition and access to quality foods, which has a direct and significant impact on neurodevelopment. Additionally, children in poverty also have a lack of adequate healthcare, above and beyond their most basic healthcare needs. They therefore tend to get sick more frequently, stay sick longer, and hence, miss more days of school.

Moreover, to simply make ends meet, parents living in poverty tend to have to work a greater amount of hours, and in many cases, more than one job. As a result, the parents of children in poverty cannot always be around to help continue the learning process at home, such as by helping with homework or processing the lessons of the day. These parents themselves also tend to be less educated than their more affluent peers, further complicating their ability to assist with the learning process.

Ironically, these parents are often vilified for “working so hard” and spending less time at home, in spite of a near-impossible choice.

Children in poverty experience a greater amount of pressure to enter the workforce at an earlier age in order to help their families alleviate financial stress. This is especially prevalent in Latino males, who face an equal pressure to assume the “man of the house” role at an early age.

Perhaps the most tragic – and ironic – result of the absence of poverty from the narrative on education reform is that the schools in the poorest communities tend to be the most underfunded, especially in the wake of the punitive measures outlined in the NCLB Act. These narratives have largely viewed poverty as a mere “excuse,” focusing instead on models of reform similar to those of big business.

We have done our children a disservice by maintaining these false narratives. The time for regurgitated platitudes is over. The time for getting serious about poverty is now.

http://www.beinglatino.us/comunidad/education-2/understanding-the-effects-of-poverty-on-education/

by on Mar. 25, 2013 at 8:19 AM
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Kris_PBG
by on Mar. 25, 2013 at 5:13 PM
My mobile is acting up - but this article reminded me of "the 30 million word gap".

I'll try to post an article, but I'd I can't until later, just google it!
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Kris_PBG
by on Mar. 25, 2013 at 5:15 PM
Falling behind before kindergarten: The 30 million word gap
June 15, 2012
By Jonah Newman and Lindsey Kratochwill

A child from a low-income family hears an average of eight million fewer words per year than a child from a wealthier family. That’s more than 30 million fewer words by the time the child turns four.

This phenomenon is known as the 30 million word gap, and research suggests it is one of the key factors in the achievement gap between high- and low-income students.

And here’s the kicker: By the time a child enters kindergarten, this language gap may be irreversible.

Aneisha Newell, 24, lives on the South Side of Chicago, and she takes reading so seriously that she started reading to Alona, now three, while she was still in the womb. She would sit in the library reading out loud to her unborn daughter.

“The librarians would look at me like I'm crazy because I have a stack of twenty children’s books and they’re like ‘Um, there’s never any child with this girl, so what is she doing?’” Newell said.

Studies show that by age three, children from low-income backgrounds know half as many words as their high-income peers.

Newell and her daughter are participants in a new study at the University of Chicago called the Thirty Million Words Project, which hopes to narrow this word gap.

“We’ve really culled it down to what we call the three T's: tune in, talk more, and take turns,” project director Dr. Dana Suskind said.

So far 40 families have participated in the study, which began in September 2010. During the eight-week program, research assistants visit families in their homes weekly.

“We would sit down and have a talk about some important tips on getting my numbers up," Newell said. “And how we can convert little small activities that you would never think of, such as riding the bus and using that time to actually talk to your child and use more words during that time.”

Getting her numbers up—that is, the number of words she spoke to Alona every hour--was especially important to Aneisha. She’s competitive, which might explain how she broke the study’s record three times over the course of eight weeks.

One week, Aneisha spoke 2,800 words to Alona in one hour, almost three times the average.

“It's not easy, definitely not easy to do, to talk to a child,” Newell said. “Because sometimes you're just like, ‘shh okay that’s enough, I don't want to answer any more questions. It's peace time.’”

Northwestern University professor Amy Booth is a leading expert on early language learning. Booth—who is not involved with the 30 Million Word study—emphasizes that the word gap is not about bad parenting.

“Parents who are under economically stressed circumstances have less resources available to them,” Booth said. “They also have less time available to them, because they might be working multiple jobs, so they don’t have the luxury of spending the same amount of time with their children, interacting with them.”

There are ways to overcome these challenges. But there’s a small window in which to do it. Booth says those children who are behind when they enter kindergarten tend not to catch up.

“These early differences in language that children enter school with are long lasting. And there’s no reason for it. We can fix this, I really think we can fix this,” Booth said.

How do we fix it? That’s where it gets complicated.

Booth’s new research shows that children from low-income backgrounds might not even have the same strategies for learning new words as their high-income peers.

If that’s the case, Booth says, early intervention programs need to focus not only on teaching children new words, but also on teaching them how to learn new words.

“When you teach a child that hammer is called a hammer, you show them a hammer, right?” Booth said. “But, just showing them a hammer or showing them multiple different hammers isn't enough. You need to show them what that means, so demonstrate for them what a hammer does. Point out the relationship between the properties of the object and what it can do. And that will help the child hang on to that word and make it a lasting component of their vocabulary.”

Newell recently finished the Thirty Million Words program, and the study’s early results suggest that the strategies she and the other parents learned will help their children’s literacy and educational achievement in the long-run.

“I want her to go beyond what I did in school,” Newell said. “To go to better schools than I did, to become a better person than I am, and it's just as simple as that. She needs help to get there and she's not going to get there if I just sit around and look at walls all day.”
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MansfieldMama
by on Mar. 26, 2013 at 9:33 AM

I teach AP English in a low income school, and years ago went to a wonderful training session taught by Ruby Payne.  It was all about these issues, and how to have successful schools in low income areas.  It was truly eye-opening.  Now she has trainings all over the country.  If you ever have a chance to go to one of her sessions, I recommend it.  Much of the information posted here was taught in her sessions.  It was very interesting.

Kris_PBG
by on Mar. 26, 2013 at 10:18 AM
1 mom liked this
I actually went to one of her training years ago - VERY interesting training!


Quoting MansfieldMama:

I teach AP English in a low income school, and years ago went to a wonderful training session taught by Ruby Payne.  It was all about these issues, and how to have successful schools in low income areas.  It was truly eye-opening.  Now she has trainings all over the country.  If you ever have a chance to go to one of her sessions, I recommend it.  Much of the information posted here was taught in her sessions.  It was very interesting.


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mjande4
by Member on Mar. 26, 2013 at 10:21 AM
2 moms liked this


I agree with both you and Kris. It's an eye opening experience.

Quoting MansfieldMama:

I teach AP English in a low income school, and years ago went to a wonderful training session taught by Ruby Payne.  It was all about these issues, and how to have successful schools in low income areas.  It was truly eye-opening.  Now she has trainings all over the country.  If you ever have a chance to go to one of her sessions, I recommend it.  Much of the information posted here was taught in her sessions.  It was very interesting.



maxswolfsuit
by on Mar. 26, 2013 at 5:47 PM
2 moms liked this

I've attended Ruby Payne workshops as well. 

They are very enlightening. I use many of her ideas with my students and same of our school policies are based on her philosophy. 


Quoting MansfieldMama:

I teach AP English in a low income school, and years ago went to a wonderful training session taught by Ruby Payne.  It was all about these issues, and how to have successful schools in low income areas.  It was truly eye-opening.  Now she has trainings all over the country.  If you ever have a chance to go to one of her sessions, I recommend it.  Much of the information posted here was taught in her sessions.  It was very interesting.


studymom911
by on Mar. 27, 2013 at 9:23 PM

I agree the effects of poverty have a disastrous effect on childrens abilites to learn. Has anyone tried any of these free learning applications.  I think studyboost is giving away its free text message based SAT course. 

happinessforyou
by on Apr. 23, 2013 at 3:45 PM

I'm calling "bull$hit". Ok, maybe just a little. I really believe it is a cultural thing not just a poor thing.

How do explain the Asian phenominon? Many Asian families come to the US not speaking much if any English. Yet within 1 generation, they speak English, graduate HS at the top of their class, go on to college and advanced degrees? They live together in one house, all work together and support each other. They are not wealthy, yet they honor family and education above all else.

My sister worked with an Asian lady. She had a Masters Degree in Accounting. With a Masters, she was the LEAST educated in her family. 1st generation.

My DD graduated with an Asian family who had 6 kids/cousins all in HS at one time. In 5-6 years of coming to the US, ALL 6 KIDS were in the top 10% of the graduating class. They not only had to learn the language, and customs, they had to work at the family restaurant every day.

Maybe we can all take a lesson from the Asian culture. An education is the most important thing to give our kids=the ability to become successful. I don't think I've ever heard an Asian family complaining at the school office that the lunches were too fattening, that they were there to get their free back pack of school supplies, that they needed to sign up their kids for free lunches  etc.. etc..

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