How Public Schools Are Failing Their Impoverished Students
It is not new information that schools, especially public schools, play a vital role in breaking the cycle of poverty, which is eating its way through the lives of 14.8% of the American population (Milligan). Educators like Keith Smetak believe that schools are doing their part to lessen the impact of poverty on students, both today and in their futures. Keith Smetak is a middle school teacher in Pennsylvania whose school was recently designated as an “Opportunity School (Smetak).” This term means that Smetak’s school “is a high-poverty school that consistently breaks the link between poverty and low academic achievement, proving that poverty is not an insurmountable barrier to academic success (Smetak).” Why does this Pennsylvania school have such success? Smetak gives credit to the fact that “they…are supported by continuous professional development and constant feedback from instructional coaches and principals (Smetak).”
Smetak’s school is a rare exception to the harsh reality impoverished students face in most public schools. According to Theresa Capra, an assistant professor of education at Mercer Community College, public schools are failing to accept their responsibility and “acknowledge that education is a public necessity and not a luxury for the privileged (76).” The majority of high-poverty public schools in the United States are not making the strides and experiencing the development that Smetak’s middle school has experienced; instead, they are experiencing high rates of drop-out students, failing grades, and a grand rack-up of absences. The schools that make up this struggling majority are focused on making sure students stay out of trouble and fi...
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...ely labeled for the convince of any school system that, by way of its labeling, is putting the psychological drive and academic success of its students in danger.
The long term vision of impoverished students’ lives should never be far from the mind of those in the public school system. Public schools have a responsibility to help break the cycle of poverty in the lives of their students today. This begins with tasks as simple as raising their standards and expectations for impoverished students, training incoming teachers on the culture of poverty, and choosing to be label-free as they address each student’s needs respectively and individually. Taking these steps in public schools can, in fact, amount to grand leaps as the education of impoverished students is improved today and they continue on to build better lives for themselves and their families in the future.
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