Low-Income Communities+Low-Funded Schools= Less Preparation+Less Opportunities
It would make no sense to capture an elegant butterfly, and then trap it in a confined, windowless room, correct? How would the butterfly survive? How would it adapt? The answer is simple: it cannot survive without a struggle. If this is the case, why take young students and place them in an underfunded school system? How would they learn everything they need to become successful? How would they be prepared for what life has to offer?
The education gap between poor and rich communities has grown immensely over the last couple decades. There is one main cause: the environment and location the schools are placed in. In an area with low property taxes, poor communities do not provide enough money in order for the schools to give the proper supplies and resources needed in a classroom. These children are left to “make-do” with what they have, which is undeniably not enough. Why are these children suffering?
An article from The Atlantic titled How Ineffective Government Funding Can Hurt Poor Students, claims that 14 states are currently providing less money to poor community schools with a lot of students coming from poor areas. It also states that 19 states have a funding system that does just enough to meet the standards. These schools lack valuable resources and an abundance of them to ensure a quality education. These states fail to provide help to children in low income areas. There are over 11 million poor students in the United States that are not receiving the education they deserve. Schools struggle to purchase enough textbooks, calculators, rulers, papers, etc due to the property taxes and low income.
Richard Fleming, who is a superintendent of the Greene County School District in Mississippi, speaks out on the effects of low-income property taxes on the school itself. He claims the school had to cut positions and end jobs for some employees of the school because they did not have enough money to pay them. He says his district is in “survival mode”, meaning they are struggling just to provide the basic needs for the children. He says the school is behind on technology, cannot provide the arts, sports, or a choir. (Hechingreport.org)
The lack of necessary materials takes a large toll on student success. Without the necessary tools, students inevitably perform at lower rates than the highly funded school students do. Teachers often have to pay for classroom resources from their own money, or are forced to use old books from other schools that do not even cover what is in their plans or the school’s curriculum. They also have no clear way to track data of what schools need what textbooks and what curriculum would best fit. It allows the school to see what they already have and what they need more of to be successful. Without this data, it is clear that the needs are not met, for they have no way how to reach them. (The Odyssey)
Not only do these children endure difficult lives at home, for low-income areas often lack resources, they are being sent to school to endure even more difficulty with developing and learning. The middle class seems to dissipating as the gap between the rich and the poor grows wider and wider. Funding has been cut a tremendous amount and in some states, pre-K education has been cut entirely and some schools had to deny some kids from attending school due to population. The states have not hesitated to cut funding, yet they haven’t made any true effort to gain money to support the schools. Most of the children from poor areas come to school without have had eaten breakfast yet, or have just encountered secondhand smoke, abuse, neglect, dressed in light, poor clothing and torn shoes. The bottom line is that their lives are difficult enough- why should they suffer even more in the place they are supposed to succeed? In the place they have a right to succeed? Everybody talks about the gap, but nobody does anything to fix the gap, or even attempt to do so. Children from these areas are dropping out of high school before they graduate. There were about 3 million teens in 2009 that did not have a high school diploma or were not enrolled in school at all. The drop out rate for low-income students is five times greater than the drop out rates of high-income schools- 7.4%. High school dropouts are not able to apply for 90% of the worlds jobs. This means that children from low-income areas are denied a job that pays enough to support them before they even get a chance to get an interview for the job; they are turned down on the spot, and it is all because of the lack of funding in low-income communities. (Huffington Post)
Children are not succeeding simply because of the area they were born into. The effect the low-funded schooling has on them is tremendous. If they cannot use the tools they need, if they do not learn what is on the curriculum, they are going to be unprepared and under-educated when it comes time to go to college or to apply for jobs. So, basically, these children are “doomed” from birth, as they are not guaranteed the right to the education they are entitled to. And the worst thing is, it all starts with the government funding, the ones who know that low-income areas do not earn enough money to properly fund a school. Therefore, we are trapping these children’s potentials in that same dark room the butterfly is in, beautiful, bold-but restricted, tested, trapped.