Research has shown over and over that POVERTY is the number one enemy in schools. Throughout the country, low income areas consistently struggle with test scores. This is not an excuse, but it is a fact that must be dealt with in order to overcome it. Over the last eight years our number of students on free and reduced lunch has increased 5-10 percentage points. It is not that poor parents do not want their children to learn, but they are occupied with trying to make a living and many times do not have the time to follow up with their children’s education. Poor students many times do not have the life experiences that other students have that can make learning more real. Schools have an obligation and duty to help meet the needs of all of our students. We are blessed to have organizations and individuals that help to provide food for our students over the weekends. Many of our students do not eat very well when they are not at school. They look forward to the breakfast and lunch served at school for their main sources of nourishment.
Drugs and the poverty they cause is also a huge problem for schools. It is a sad fact that we have students who do drugs, but many of our students who do drugs have parents who do drugs. If parents are high or looking for ways to get high, they are not able to properly take care of their children and education is not a big priority. As we know drug use and poverty sometimes go hand in hand.
It is really a sad paradigm, education is perhaps the best way to break the cycle of poverty, but poverty is the most prohibitive factor to getting a quality education. Cycles are difficult to break and every year we have graduates that are the first in their family to graduate high school. Regrettably, each year we also have students drop out and continue the cycle. We are working hard to break that cycle and will continue to do everything in our power to break the cycle.
Schools can NOT overcome the poverty of their students without parental and community support. Great teachers are crucial and certainly cannot be overlooked, but the school as a whole must find a way to engage the parents and enlist their help. This is where the community is a crucial factor. We must all find ways to encourage education and look for ways to help parents meet the needs of their students.