Gandhi stated that the worst form of violence was poverty and hence the need to tackle it on all fronts. Poverty is also a tremendous source of inequality in the contemporary capitalistic society. It is, therefore, the biggest problem facing the fundamental need of education in society. The United States is one of the most powerful countries in the world and hence the statistics that 22% of children love below the federal poverty line come as a big shocker to many (Strauss). Over the years, the federal education system in the United States has ignored poverty as an impediment to the acquisition of quality education among the [populations. There are those policy makers that are fast to assume and argue that citing poverty as a problem facing education as just an excuse. However, it is unfair to argue that the children coming from a background with difficulty in getting enough food, where they have to work every day to take care of basic needs, or for resources necessary for personal growth do not get into the classroom, at a disadvantage from others. Imagine attending schools that are underfunded, understaffed, and under-resourced because that is they can afford. It is a clear indication that poverty is a problem faced by the education system in the United States.
The current educational and social systems available are that the poor ought to remain poor and lowly educated or even uneducated. It is due to the capitalistic system of running things and that the only way to get the best education, one need to have enough money to afford a good school. A majority of the children from low-income levels are found in public schools that are at times understaffed and with lesser resources than those private schools where the privileged children are found (Strauss). Moreover, college level education is worth a fortune and yet in the American state, the better the job placement that one needs, the higher the level of education that is required. It means that the poor, who study up to the high school level, may never get an opportunity to get the best jobs that would have been the ticket out of the poverty. The education policy is fair in its provision of grants and scholarships in some instances but that is limited to exemplary students in sports and other forms of talents and hence joins colleges that offer such courses. The others are left for the parents to try to raise the required amounts of which majority of such individuals it becomes impossible.
According to statics by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), over 51% of children in schools in the United States live in poverty and the number is growing faster (Strauss). The current system is that the schools in areas with a low socioeconomic background are underfunded. They lack the sufficient resources and means necessary to optimize the performance of the children. Moreover, the kind of the curriculum does not leave room for consideration of the socioeconomic difficulties that could be leading to cognitive, behavioral, and social problems of the students. Therefore, such students are prone to low performance. The teachers and other stakeholders in such schools may be committed to giving the best outcome for the students, passionate, motivated and hardworking but the often lack the experience, support in services and the required political power.
Higher rates of absenteeism are recorded among children living in poverty and consequently score lower on test scores as compared to their affluent colleagues. It is because; they have more responsibilities in that at times some of the children are the ones that have to take care of their families while their parents are working long hours. They, therefore, have to take care of their siblings and other jobs at home and may result in failure to make it to school (Slade). Others may also not have a parent to enforce them to go to school and hence fail to attend school at free will. Moreover, due to the lack of necessary resources and time to study and focus on their school related work, they tend to score lower than the affluent individuals. For example, the affluent student may afford to have some of the books and the necessary tools to make them productive at school but the other from lower economic background may not access to such and hence have to rely on the little input they get at schools. Also, the school performance and other outcomes are influenced by many factors including parental involvement and the psychological and social wellbeing of the student. Less fortunate children also have lesser involved parents as they either do not understand the need or meaning of engaging in children’s work or that they are busy working or may not know how to precisely support such a child through school (Slade).
Poverty poses a threat to the education level and the general literacy level of the population in America. It is because; the level of poverty is increasing at a high rate, which means more children are exposed to the risk factors of poverty to their education (Slade). Moreover, the dropout rates for students of ages 16 to 24 are at seven times than those that come from the affluent backgrounds. It is an indication that the America population will be losing more children before they get an opportunity to get a decent education. The effect of that is the continued existence of a gap between the poor and the rich and means that the America economy loses a high degree of students with the vast potential of productivity in society and the general economy. The poverty level with also further increase with a decrease in literacy levels in the country.
Quality education is a fundamental right to every citizen of America, but that right is denied by the fact that most people cannot afford the quality education. The current education system is affected by the strict federal restrictions on it that do not consider the realities of states such as those at the South to know that there is need to ensure that the education is available at affordable rates for all. Some of the areas that have a history of injustices such as those that had a high racism rates have a greater number of informal settlements and poverty are higher due to the lack of education for the colored and Hispanic adults who are the parents of the children to date (Slade). The schools found in such areas while following the federal system is still unaffordable for most individuals especially the college education that is an important springboard for a student to break away from the vicious cycle of poverty. It is because, the education is expensive and beyond the economic niche of such disadvantaged individuals and hence unaffordable.
In conclusion, it is imperative that the government and educational stakeholders pay keen attention to the strong link between education and poverty. It is because; poverty has been and still is a major problem that is facing the education system and the possibility of the growth of the sector in the country. It is because, children brought up in poverty stricken areas are less likely to complete school due to its unaffordability, lack of access, social and psychological reasons. Those that go through school also have lower educational outcomes and test scores due to the baggage that they carry as compared to the more affluent children. The red flags are even more visible from the fact that the poverty rate is increasing at a high rate, which means lower outcomes of education and the deterioration of education levels. It is, therefore, important that the educational stakeholders tackle the issue of poverty head-on and offer equal opportunities to the students to learn despite their socioeconomic backgrounds. By beating the inequality, then the educational outcomes are bound to be positively affected as well.
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