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Summary: The American Way Of Poverty

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Of the 73 million children living in the United States, over 32 million are in households considered low-income or below the federal poverty level (“Child Poverty,” 2017). While elementary and secondary public school education are available to all residents under age 18, students from low socioeconomic status (SES) households (under 200 percent of the federal poverty level) have an academic disadvantage when compared to non-poor peers (income over 200 percent of FPL). As the “lottery of birth” of growing up with or without financial stability determines a child’s overall standard of living, it thus also determines the quality of their education (Kristof, 2014). This paper will outline three areas of inequality between low SES and non-poor public …show more content…
In Sasha Abramsky’s book, The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives, Abramsky looks at pockets of New Orleans, Louisiana, “low-income communities inundated with returning prisoners and drug dealers, of neighborhoods swamped by violence, of huge numbers of kids whose mothers and fathers were behind bars,” and of the “desperate need for more investment of the people and infrastructure of these neighborhoods, in mentoring programs for children, and in job training and education, rather than simply in the building of more prisons,” (2013). In areas with low tourism or median income, the incentive is not there for state governments to improve school infrastructures, add teaching resources, or implement newly researched educational policies. Low-SES communities have more school systems that are under-resourced, lower levels of child literacy, and higher secondary dropout rates (“Education and Socioeconomic Status,” n.d.). While organizations like Teach For America send college graduates into low-income communities, schools in these areas still have difficulty recruiting qualified teachers and …show more content…
Examples of cultural capital advantaging students include having caregivers who frequently read to them and encourage reading, being taken to museums, being encouraged to do art and music, and being sent to extracurricular sports or lessons. Children who grow up with their curiosity and creativity being nurtured by parents have a head start by the time they begin kindergarten, moving ahead of peers that did not have (including being financially unable to have) the same culturally supported upbringing. According to Sorie Gassama, “when a family is embedded in poverty, the child’s education becomes the least on their scale of preference. For the family without resources, survival takes the front seat. It can be wrong, however, for anyone to embrace the belief that parents from poor families overlook their children’s education. The reality is that for them, keeping the children alive is of the utmost importance,” (2012). In contrast to this, non-poor peers are more likely to have their education and aspirations prioritized by parents, as attending and doing well at school does not compete against the family’s ability to eat enough and keep lights on. The two-month summer break each school year is another area where low-SES children often fall behind non-poor students. Wang, Vine, Hsiao, Rundle, & Goldsmith

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