Poverty and Schooling in the U.S.: Contexts and Consequences

Poverty and Schooling in the U.S.: Contexts and Consequences

Poverty and Schooling in the U.S.: Contexts and Consequences

Poverty and Schooling in the U.S.: Contexts and Consequences

Synopsis

Poverty is an educational issue because it affects children's physical, emotional, and cognitive development. Especially in current times, taken-for-granted ideas about poverty and poor children must be scrutinized and reconsidered. That is the goal of this book. Poverty and Schooling in the U.S.: Contexts and Consequences is in part a plea for educators and future educators to undertake the intellectual and emotional work of learning more about the social causes, as well as the sometimes life-altering consequences of poverty. Although such efforts will not eradicate poverty, they can help form more insightful educators, administrators, policymakers, and researchers. The book is also an effort to bring to the table a larger conversation about the educational significance of the social and legal policy contexts of poverty and about typical school experiences of poor children. Poverty and Schooling in the U.S.: Contexts and Consequences: *describes what teachers need to know or to understand about the contexts and consequences of poverty; *provides information and analysis of the social context of poverty; *examines the experience of many children and families living in poverty; *documents the demographics of poverty and offers a critique of the official U.S. poverty metric; *reports on continuing and significant disparities in school funding; *presents historical context through a broad-brush review of some of the landmark legal decisions in the struggle for educational opportunity; *looks at some typical school experiences of poor children; *considers the consequences of the federal No Child Left Behind Act; and *offers suggestions about the kind of educational reform that could make a difference in the lives of poor children. This book is fundamental for faculty, researchers, school practitioners, and students across the field of education. It is accessible to all readers. An extensive background in social theory, educational theory, or statistics is not required.

Excerpt

This book is in part a plea, especially to colleagues and future colleagues in the profession of education, to undertake the intellectual and emotional work of learning more about the social causes as well as the sometimes life-altering consequences of poverty. Will such efforts eradicate poverty? Almost certainly not. Will they help make us better educators, administrators, policymakers, and researchers—which is to say, more insightful human beings able to discern and respond to the needs of others? I believe they will. I believe efforts to understand the causes and consequences of poverty will help us all gain perspective, make difficult decisions more thoughtfully, and remain truer to that which matters most: the bonds of love and care among people.

This book is also an effort, undertaken in the spirit of a Freirian dialog, to bring to the table of a larger conversation about the educational significance of poverty information about the social policy context of poverty, about typical school experiences of poor children, and about the law-and-policy context of schooling as it affects poor children. Although the long struggle for social justice and equal educational opportunity requires much more than information, good information helps us ask better questions and transcend a dangerous consciousness of “us versus them” that relegates poor children to second-class status.

“Many of the liberal intellectuals I know who are concerned with questions of unequal access to good secondary schools tend to focus more on inequalities that may be caused by our selection systems than on those that are engendered by environmental forces and are neurological in nature, ” Kozol (1995) writes in Amazing Grace. “In human terms, it's understandable that people would prefer to speak about examinations than about brain damage” (p. 156). As Kozol suggests . . .

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