Poor Parents Must Educate Their Children

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A child does not show up for school for the third day in a row and the teacher notices that a pattern of absences has appeared. Is it the child’s fault? The parents’ fault? Can the school do something to stop this trend? There is a definite association between the parents of a child in poverty and the education that child does (or does not) receive, and there are many factors that play into this connection: intimidation the parents feel, expectations put on the child, parent employment, location and condition of the school, and health issues. Unfortunately, all of these issues mean that children in poverty are on an unequal plane when it comes to education, compared to children in higher classes of socio-economic status. Lord Acton wrote of the United States over 140 years ago, “In a country where there is no distinction of class, a child is not born to the station of its parents, but with an indefinite claim to all the prizes that can be won by thought and labor. It is in conformity with the theory of equality . . . to give as near as possible to every youth an equal state in life. Americans are unwilling that any should be deprived in childhood of the means of competition.”1 It is sad and ironic how this statement is not true in the United States today.

Parents may not want to get involved in their child’s school life because schools have a negative connotation in their minds. Many adults in poverty grew up in poor families and have bad memories of school from their childhoods. They may have been bullied or did not make good grades. There may be an association for them between school and feeling stupid. Also, some parents of students in poverty have a lower level of education than the people working at schools. When talking to principals or teachers, a parent does not want to feel inferior in the conversation. The more diverse vocabulary used by the faculty and staff at schools can be intimidating. This is one reason why parents are reluctant to get involved in reading programs, the Parent Teacher Association, and other extra-curricular activities. In order to distance themselves from the feeling of inferiority, parents distance themselves from their children’s schools.

In addition to being physically distant from the place their children receive their education, parents of children in poverty may not breach the topic verbally. Parental encouragement ...

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