|Number of Low Income Students GrowingIn South Carolina, 58 Percent of Students are Low Income The number of low income students is growing nationwide according to a new research bulletin by the Southern Education Foundation with data was collected by the National Center for Education Statistics. In 40 of the 50 states, low income students comprised no less than 40 percent of all public schoolchildren.
The report calls for improving the support of education in all regions of the United States and especially in the South. The report concludes, “With huge, stubbornly unchanging gaps in learning, schools in the South and across the nation face the real danger of becoming entrenched, inadequately funded educational systems that enlarge the division in America between haves and have-nots and endanger the entire nation’s prospects.”
With this kind of unsettling information available, my book Understanding Poverty in the Classroom becomes even more important for classroom teachers. Here’s an excerpt:
“Without understanding the realities of their students’ lives, even with great intentions, teachers can make bad situations worse. For example, a student may be very loud and have a tendency to interrupt class. The teacher can strongly discipline the student for behavior that appears to be rude or defiant of authority. However, when teachers understand that a child who lives in an overcrowded situation learns to interrupt often and loudly to survive, they come to realize that the child is not being disrespectful but just living out lessons learned at home. Rather than punishing, a teacher can use the opportunity to demonstrate other options for appropriate behavior without being critical of family codes.
“Likewise, without understanding the situation, a teacher may grow to dislike students because of their perceived lack of responsibility. … Teachers may lament, “They never have their homework,” “They never return papers signed,” “Their parents never show up for meetings,” or “They smell bad all the time.” These and other frustrations lead teachers to disconnect from their students and be ineffective because of their own inability to see the behavior in its fuller context of poverty-related realities. Teachers are not choosing to be judgmental when it comes to fully engaging their students. They simply have never learned any other way to look at their pupils and the conditions in which they live.”
Available at Rowman Littlefield Educational Publishers, Ten Thousand Villages on Main Street in Greenville SC, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, and at online retailers.