Due to America’s broadening income inequality rate, children who come from lower-income families or living in poverty have a lesser chance at succeeding in school, while wealthier students have access to enriching educational opportunities. Since only a small group of people are receiving quality education, vital workforce positions are being left empty. If this is to continue, it will jeopardize the state and stability of the U.S economy.
What we tend not to realize is that, poverty and education for those living in it have a direct correlation to the workforce and economy. According to the NCCP, (National Center For Children In Poverty), “about 15 million children in the United States – 21% of all children – live in families with incomes below the federal poverty threshold.” Although a parent is supposed to provide for their children and children are required education by law, neither low-income parents, nor the government is solely at fault for the problem. This issue dates back to the economic decline in the 1970s which allowed families with wealth to stay wealthy and grow their wealth while middle and lower class families struggled to catch up and ultimately fell behind (Sean Reardon, Equitable Growth). Since then, the gap between the wealthy and the poor has continuously widened, leaving those at the bottom unable to ever move up. As the income rate grows rapidly, they often overlooked education gap grows as well. Wealthier parents are able to provide their students with far more resources than poorer families, resulting in only a small amount of students being equipped with more than adequate education and skills. This in effect, raises a larger problem for society as a whole. In 2016, The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics ran a twenty-seven week study, concluding that the ratio of low-income workers to all other individuals in the labor force was 4.9 percent. The same study also explained that the likelihood of being classified as working poor declines as workers attain higher levels of education. With such a small percentage of the American population receiving better educational opportunities, our society will not be able to develop effectively, which will harm and hinder economic growth (Sean Reardon, Equitable Growth).
Despite funding from non-profits or private organizations, little has been done in efforts to ensure low-income children have quality education. In 1968, Dr. James P. Comer created The Comer Process, now know as the “School Development Program.” Comer, a Yale University child psychiatrist, noticed that low-income children did not have the necessary skills to thrive in school. He also realized that most teachers were not provided with the adequate training to understand child development. The Comer Process takes a holistic approach to learning, linking academic growth the immersive/collaborative schooling environment the students are developed in, along with their emotional wellness and being. In a Comer school, principals, administrators and parents work together in making decisions about the school and its support. Each school is equipped with a full time social-worker and linked to social services. The program has been implemented in over 1,000 schools and is still currently used by 300 (Hendrick Smith, PBS). According to research done by PBS correspondent Hendrick Smith, this strategy has been very effective at improving achievement rates in high poverty areas in just as little as five years time. There has been many other solutions proposed to aid students caught in the cycle of poverty, such as constitutional amendments and using increased taxes from gasoline, tobacco, and the state lottery. These solutions are often overlooked and met with resistance by consumers who are unwilling to pay. In addition, the government offers low-interest loans, food stamps and housing support to lower income families; but there is not very many programs that actually help these students in the classroom.
The education inequality for children living in poverty is a problem that is so unacknowledged in the U.S, but will only create severe problems for the economy in the future. Society simply cannot continue to progress with such a small group of educated individuals working essential jobs. The gaps have to become smaller, and the education quality has to be improved for children who can’t get or afford the best resources. The best way to close these gaps is by investing into high quality and affordable education programs for both parents and children, this way while children are receiving the proper skills they need, their parents are equipped with tools to help them at home. Children are the future of the world and the workforce and to ensure that our future be prosperous, we must start taking steps to provide all children with the best education available.