Poverty’s Devastating Effect On Education As The Great Equalizer
April V. Taylor
January 24, 2015
One of the major foundational aspects of the American Dream being accessible to all, no matter what their circumstances are, is the idea that education is the great equalizer. However, the equalizing effect of education is more myth than reality based on several statistics that reveal that poverty negates the equalizing impact of education. The achievement gap between the poor and non-poor is twice as large as the racial achievement gap between Black and white students. This gap contributes significantly to the stagnation of upward mobility with the cognitive performance of students from pre-k through college showing substantial stratification based on poverty status. Poverty has a profound effect on life outcomes, and the recent revelation that the majority of students in public schools in the United States live at or below the poverty level implies that the real crisis in the American education system is not about unqualified teachers but rather the extreme concentration of poverty. The fact that 51 percent of public school students live in poverty indicates that the US is no longer a middle class society; the US ranks second highest in child poverty among the world’s 35 “richest” countries; this has major implications on the educational future and evaporation of the American Dream for a new generation of Americans.
For those who question this assertion, take into account the fact that Finland, the highest scoring country in the world in terms of education, has less than 4 percent of its students living in poverty. To make this relevant to how poverty is affecting students in the United States, consider the fact that, according to the Huffington Post, US schools with fewer than 25 percent of students living in poverty perform as well as Finland, and students at schools where fewer than 10 percent of the population lives in poverty, they outperform Finland.
It is also important to consider how race and income intersect to negatively impact education outcomes. Black and Hispanic students are already 2 years behind grade level when they reach 4th grade. By the time these same students reach 12th grade, they are 4 grade levels behind. In terms of higher education, less than 30 percent of students in the bottom quarter of incomes access higher education, and of those who do, less than half complete a college degree.
The impact of these factors on upward mobility means that despite increased access to education, upward mobility has remained largely stagnant over the last 20 years, and the gap between high and low income families consistently continues to expand. Combine these factors with the fact that American schools are embarrassingly segregated along racial and economic lines, with 38 percent of Black students attending schools where minorities make up 90 to 100 percent of the student population. Forty – three percent of Hispanics attend schools with the same intense racial segregation.
To say that poverty is dealing a crushing blow to educational achievement is perhaps an understatement. Educational policy and practices must evolve to meet the needs of students. Some of the things experts recommend are increasing awareness about the incidence of poverty and the consequences of poverty, equitably funding schools, increasing access to preschool education, and reducing racial and economic segregation and isolation.
CONSUMER REPORT SHOWS BLACK AMERICA HAS A STRONG INTEREST IN BLACK ECONOMIC UNITY
Reported by Ashley Naples
Nielsen, an American global information and measurement company, partnered with Essence for its 2014 African American Consumer report which provides extensive research about African-American spending and culture.
Despite the negative stereotypes about Black America’s inability to unite economically, the study shows African-Americans are more likely to support or purchase products and services that are represented or owned by people of the same ethnicity. Forty-four percent of Black survey participants said they are more likely to purchase or support products that are owned or supported by African-Americans or other diverse groups, and 43 percent are more likely to patronize a business if it is a minority-owned entity.
This is a step in the right direction towards the next wave of the Civil Rights movement which social commentators, scholars, and activists such as Dr. Boyce Watkins, Ryan Mack, and many others believe will be a financial one. Since the report shows that Black-owned businesses have grown over 60% between 2002-2007, this creates a diverse marketplace in Black America and strong potential to truly create generational wealth.
Debunking yet another negative stereotype about the Black family, the report shows that African-Americans are adopting healthier habits including greater participation in exercise and athletics, eating healthier organic foods, and cutting back on riskier habits like smoking and drinking alcohol.
The report also reveals that 87 percent of those surveyed for the study feel ethnic recognition is important, compared to 59 percent of the general population. One area in which Black Americans are most connected is the Black church. According to the study, 56 percent of African-Americans say they attend church regularly and depend on it for community news, support services, trusted leadership, and to mobilize for community activism.
When it comes to finances, there’s still some work to be done in this area. Only 29 percent of African-Americans between the ages of 18-54, with a household income of $50,000 or more, are retirement conscious. By comparison, 40 percent of the general market is retirement conscious. Also, 49 percent of African-Americans surveyed said they are in control of their debt, while 55 percent of the general market reported being in control of their debt.
“Signed…An Educated Brother!”