Magazine article National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

Prioritize Educating Children Living in Poverty

Magazine article National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

Prioritize Educating Children Living in Poverty

Article excerpt

BY KEVIN P. DWYER

Most school psychologists know that the vast majority of children who live in poverty go to public schools that are inferior in meeting their educational needs. This is a longstanding problem and is the elephant on the table in our national public equal education effort. Most school psychologists know that a few schools (and systems) have successfully educated children livingin poverty at a rate that is comparable to children with economic advantage. Among states, Maryland has been more successful than many in graduation rates of children in poverty, including the racial and ethnic groups who are disproportionately living in communities of poverty.

However, even in Maryland, some districts continue to offer inferior educational opportunities to children in poverty. Nationally, we have 2,000 high schools in poor communities labeled "drop-out factories" by Balfanz (2007) from the Center for Social Organization of Schools at The Johns Hopkins University. School systems that primarily serve children in poverty are too frequently embarrassingly unsuccessful, having graduation rates below 50% and special education rates above 20%. As school psychologists, we know that special education is not a remedy for poverty or poor schooling.

We are required to base our practice on research-proven interventions for the children we serve. Is there any evidence that special education is effective for Black, Hispanic, or White children suffering from poverty and its related risk factors? In selfcontained special education high school classes in urban districts, I have seen teens relearning long division instead of algebra, writing simple sentences instead of discussing Shakespeare or Baldwin or comparing today's news with yesterday's history.

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We know where the problems are in the delivery of effective education. We know that successful systems and schools require effective, challenging curriculum standards combined with intensive instructional services available in regular classrooms. Research has confirmed our own observations of the need to reform our service delivery and help improve the educational opportunity for children placed at risk by poverty. …

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