The crossroads of poverty and poor student performance

A concerned teacher speaks out:

The strong correlation between poverty and academic achievement has been noted for decades. Nutrition, stress, lack of health-care and housing stability all play a role in brain development and student learning. This is not disputed, yet as educators, we largely ignore poverty and instead focus on how to better teach our students. No amount of revised lesson plans or new curriculum will remove the impact of poverty on student learning.

Taking a stand against low wage poverty is a stand for education. I want to be clear: there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the academic abilities of poor children. In fact, when you remove the stresses created by poverty, academic achievement goes up. There is something wrong with a society and economic system that allows so many of our children to live in poverty.

And one of the biggest problems we have to overcome is ingrained prejudice bolstered by a healthy dose of narcissistic navel-gazing. I got into a very unsettling argument with a handful of normally progressive friends and family recently over the living wage issue. The concerns raised by these folks centered around fairness: "Is it fair to the people who have labored to obtain a college degree or professional certification, only to have someone who didn't even graduate high school come along and get paid $15 per hour?" The argument pretty much fizzled out when I explained how they (as taxpayers) were actually paying part of the wages the employers refused to, via food stamps and other public assistance a $7.25 per hour worker was qualified for. But that didn't address the deeper social schism that caused those feelings of unfairness, a schism that is a direct result of decades of Meritocratic thinking. We're programmed to believe we compete with each other, but, in fact, we are competing with the 1%. And losing.



That is the most ridiculous

That is the most ridiculous argument against a living wage I have ever heard. Those 'progressives' obviously are not aware of wage stagnation. I've read that if the minimum wage had kept pace with the growth of CEO pay, it would now be $23.00 an hour.

What really boosts our economy is people with money to spend. Their spending creates the need for businesses to hire new employees.

Yes, it is

But like I mentioned, we spend too much time peering through the lens of our own needs and wants. That's why it's hard for somebody earning $65,000 per year to grasp the concept that they might be enjoying the fruits of white privilege or some other factor, instead of having "earned their way" to that position.

Of course, the truth is only a quarterly report resulting in a downsizing away, but by the time they realize their mistake, it's too late.