Poverty and Educational Reform

By SerVaas, Joan | The Saturday Evening Post, September-October 2011 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Poverty and Educational Reform

SerVaas, Joan, The Saturday Evening Post

IN THIS ISSUE we asked Diane Ravitch, former U.S. assistant secretary of education, to give us her perspective on why so many of our public schools are failing. In her analysis, she explains why putting so much empahsis on standardized testing-as our current reforms do--will not make an impact on true academic achievement. She looks at the development of public education in America and expresses concern that current federal programs set impossible goals that threaten to close schools and fire teachers if legislative mandates are not achieved. Ravitch points out that the education reform efforts of the past decade have ignored the fact that the cause of low academics in America is poverty not "bad" teachers.

Historically, there has always been a link between education and poverty. Free public schools in America were created to alleviate poverty by giving every child the opportunity to receive an education. So the question is, does education lower poverty or does poverty lower education?

In Colonial days, education was considered essential for the public well-being and it was not subject to individual or family prerogatives. Although only wealthy children had the privilege of going to school, all parents, including the poor, were required to educate their children to be God-fearing and "serviceable in their generation."

If parents neglected their duty, the community had the right to intervene. For example, Massachusetts passed a Poor Law in 1735 that states: "That where persons bring up their children in such gross ignorance that they do not know, of are notable to distinguish the alphabet of twenty-four letters, at the age of six years, in such case the overseers of the poor are hereby empowered and directed to put or bind out in good families such children, for a decent and Christian education ... unless the children are judged incapable, through some inevitable infirmity."

You read that correctly. If families were so irresponsible as to fail to educate their children, the community would take those kids away and do the job for them!

By 1840 the heavy influx of immigrants and expanding territories changed the social hierarchy as communities became fragmented.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Poverty and Educational Reform


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?