More and more, the evidence is mounting that problems in education have much more to do with childhood poverty than with teachers, unions, or curriculum. And before we invite further change, or destruction, to our system of public education, we need to pay more attention to this reality.
An epidemiologist at Duke Medical School, Dr. Jan Costello, found herself in a position to study the effects of poverty on children before and after the Cherokee Indians of Western NC opened a casino and paid a yearly stipend to every member of the tribe. It turned out that the extra money for families living in poverty resulted in children who had fewer behavior and psychiatric issues, and the younger the children were when the family received this extra income, the more likely the child was to see positive results. (No difference was seen for children who were not living in poverty prior to receipt of the stipend.)