Klea Scharberg

Reducing the Effects of Child Poverty

In today's global economic state, many families and children face reduced circumstances. The 2008 economic crisis became a "household crisis" (PDF) when higher costs for basic goods, fewer jobs and reduced wages, diminished assets and reduced access to credit, and reduced access to public goods and services affected families who coped, in part, by eating fewer and less nutritious meals, spending less on education and health care, and pulling children out of school to work or help with younger siblings. These "new poor" join those who were vulnerable prior to the financial shocks and economic downturn.

Today's statistics are astounding:

Unfortunately, these "poor kids" are the most affected while also being the least able to do anything about their circumstances. They are dependent on the adults in their lives and the supports they have access to in the community. Their parents have had little to no control over rising inflation and massive unemployment. School districts that were previously vibrant are now dealing with unemployment, underemployment, and more transient families, resulting in less tax revenue; demands for more services; and children who come to school hungry, unhealthy, stressed, and unable to concentrate. Poverty is linked to children completing fewer years of schooling, earning lower wages as adults, and having a greater likelihood of reporting poor health.

How can we reduce the effects of poverty on our students? Robert Balfanz, codirector of the Everyone Graduates Center and research scientist at the Center for Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University, writes that (PDF) "schools that serve high concentrations of low-income students need to be able to provide direct, evidence-based supports that help students attend school regularly, act in a productive manner, believe they will succeed, overcome external obstacles, complete their coursework, and put forth the effort required to graduate college- and career-ready." Jon Marcus in a Harvard Education Letter article calls for positive interventions, full-service schools, and empathy for students' and families' circumstances.

In Wisconsin, "economically disadvantaged" (ED) enrollment is up from 24 percent in 2001 to 32 percent in 2008. This factor has a greater effect on student achievement than any other. Knowing that, a new study on the effect of school funding on education opportunity (PDF) outlines connections between poverty and student/school performance and offers solutions, including fair funding at the state level to address the increasing needs of rural and urban districts, incorporation of health and nutrition supports in education policy, and using multiple measures of assessment (not just state report card data) to measure overall school and student performance.

ASCD Executive Director and CEO Gene R. Carter pays particular attention to the recommendation to mitigate poverty's effects from the recent For Each and Every Child report, stating, "instead of watering down expectations for certain students or becoming overwhelmed by their steep barriers to learning, schools must join with families, community-based service providers, and other stakeholders to share research, data, idea generation, and resources to provide a coordinated approach for meeting each student's varying needs."

In May we looked at the implications of the "new poverty" for schools, many of which have seen drastic changes in the populations they serve and their communities. Listen to the Whole Child Podcast with guests Deborah Wortham, superintendent of the School District of the City of York, Pa.; Felicia DeHaney, president and CEO of the National Black Child Development Institute; William Parrett, director of the Center for School Improvement and Policy Studies and professor of education at Boise State University; and Kathleen Budge, coordinator of the Leadership Development Program and associate professor in the Curriculum, Instruction, and Foundational Studies Department at Boise State University. Read this blog to hear guest bloggers and experts share their thoughts on the new poverty.

Have you signed up to receive the Whole Child Newsletter? Read this month's newsletter and visit the archive for more strategies, resources, and tools you can use to help ensure that each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.

Comments (9)

T. Strawser

May 28, 2013

All stake holders — Parents, administrators, legislators, community members, board members, teachers, students, need to read about this.  Those who are making the curriculum demands and the policies need to “educated” about what education is ALL about!

C. James

May 29, 2013

Any discussion of child poverty and education that does not address the shift from two-parent to single-parent homes is not valid.  No single factor affects a child more than denial of a second parent.

David Kester

May 30, 2013

I trust that community stake-holders is not narrowly defined as everyone BUT faith communities.  Why is it that these are so often left out of the discussion?

Midwest Teacher

July 29, 2013

I wanted to address the paragraph in this article regarding the ‘economically disadvantaged’ in Wisconsin.  Klea Scharberg is right on with the readings/research I’ve gotten from Ruby Payne and Eric Jensen.  Schools can not be held soley accountable for addressing this poverty issue.  There are so many factors that have come into play in creating the sad situations that our nation’s youth live in.  We need to stop blaming this agency or that group of people and start working on the ‘fix’ this author shares in connection to the authors I mentioned above. By joining forces - school systems, medical facilities, universities, etc. - we will be able to change those ever-growing statistics! 
I do also agree with T. Strawser in that those making policy in our nation need to be reading more on this issue themselves, and they can start with Ruby Payne and Eric Jensen!

D. Rivera

December 2, 2013

I really enjoyed reading this article and would love to use some of the statistics in a project that I am doing for English. I was wondering if you would be able to tell me the sources you used.

Klea @ ASCD

December 2, 2013

Of course! All the sources and stats are linked in the article. Feel free to use or ask questions directly. My e-mail address is .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Bethuel

March 7, 2015

Hello guys, I found this great article about childhood obesity, it can be of help to many parents.

http://webhealthwire.com/2015/03/03/the-shocking-truth-about-childhood-obesity-in-america-and-steps-to-take-for-childhood-obesity-prevention/

Share your thoughts…

Eman Fakhouri

May 4, 2015

Good to read this valuable and knowledgeable blog post. Thanks for sharing it with us. we Living in a developing country we don’t have to depend on television and magazine photographs to get the right information regarding the true situation in which the poor children of the poverty stricken people are living in.
Poverty is so cruel that it makes people do things against their wishes. Every parent in the world wants to give their kid the proper education and all the facilities that will ensure a bright future for them. Our parents too have slaved for us

 

Anas Hamed

May 4, 2015

Good to read this valuable and knowledgeable blog post. Thanks for sharing it with us. we Living in a developing country we don’t have to depend on television and magazine photographs to get the right information regarding the true situation in which the poor children of the poverty stricken people are living in.

Poverty is so cruel that it makes people do things against their wishes. Every parent in the world wants to give their kid the proper education and all the facilities that will ensure a bright future for them.  Caring for our children foundationis very important.

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