Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Op-Ed: Poverty in the Classroom

The U.S. is undergoing its greatest effort ever at trying to control what all students must know and attain for education. Teachers and students across our nation are basically being told what they need to teach and what they need to learn, and this can have both positive and negative effects on education. Students everywhere will be learning the same material, and there will be more consistency. High expectations are important. However, how can you expect students of poverty who have the ability to learn but live in an environment with minimal resources to compete with students of wealth and maximal resources?

Our communities need to recognize why students are not meeting certain expectations and standards, and do everything in their power to improve student learning. In Detroit, they have started Reading Corps, which is a volunteer program to enhance literacy and allow every student an opportunity to succeed at meeting the standards. Having a common curriculum needs to take into account that every student and teacher in the U.S. have various interests. There should be mandatory information and skills required for students to learn in order for them to be successful in college and the real world, but there also should be opportunities for students to explore their own passions and interests. 

Opportunities should exist for all students. Unfortunately, poverty is a barrier to learning. Schools need volunteers from the community to work with students and families who are experiencing the greatest need. 

According to the Michigan Department of Education, 70 percent of K-12 students are eligible for free/reduced lunch in Michigan. Students from low-income households need teachers and community volunteers to expose them to diverse literature and experiences.  

Poverty can have a tremendous impact on student achievement. These students need resources in order to learn and achieve equally.  

Action should be taken to stop decline in reading proficiency

It is disappointing to see that reading proficiency is down among students in Michigan. Lower-income and minority students continue to be at-risk. 

The ability to read at a proficient level is critical for success in all core-subject areas. Interventions, such as Newsela, must be available in schools for persistently low-performing students.

Michigan’s educators and parents can improve reading proficiency by working together to support learning. Reading aloud to children at an early age is essential for their language development. 

According to the Michigan Department of Education, “the earlier in a child’s educational process parent involvement begins, the more powerful the effects”. Michigan legislators should consider policies that hold educators and parents accountable in order to improve reading proficiency and overall performance across the board.