What About Income Inequality?

I haven’t often devoted a post to reactions from one article I’ve read – that’s usually more my twitter style to (re)tweet something I am drawn to.  But this article, and this topic, is cause to do so.

I wrote about income inequality and it’s effects on education in my post Education’s Own 47%, about how the education reform movement is focusing so much attention on improving the “failing” US education system, that they spend time on the fact that if our upper and middle class students were their own country, they outperform top ranking countries, included famed Finland. Poverty is an issue we cannot afford to ignore any longer… yet we continue to do so.

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The article you must read and share is Stanford professor of education and sociology Sean F. Reardon’s New York Times piece on income inequality and its effects on student achievement, “The Great Divide: No Rich Child Left Behind.”   Read it, then pair it with this info graphic from another article he co-wrote last summer.

What Next?

“There is a lot of discussion these days about investing in teachers and “improving teacher quality,” but improving the quality of our parenting and of our children’s earliest environments may be even more important.” – Sean F. Reardon

Regardless of the current narrative about school reform/deform, there are an awful lot of schools working as hard as they can to support the development of their students. The wheels I have turning after reading this article is what role I, and the schools I work with, can play in being a part of developing both in school and out of school life.

  • Nearly every school has “Parent-Teacher” nights, but a smaller set (that could be larger) have “parent academies” to provide courses and support for parents throughout the year.
  • I was talking to a school recently that was lamenting how hard it is to get parents into school for events, though they recognized their parent population is a busy one. We talked about perhaps making “youtube”-esque videos that parents could watch at their convenience – short, catchy, meaningful.
  • Volunteering at neighborhood organizations, especially ones in areas you know you could most impact.
  • Thinking of our schools not as islands, but as a community, and brainstorming ways your school’s PTA can support a sister-school’s PTA.
  • Continue to make your voice heard about these issues of income inequality and their effects on student learning – write to congressman, write to your local news outlets, write blog posts, talk a lot.

I am not suggesting that schools shouldn’t continue to improve for our children (most schools want just that and are actively trying to do so), I am also not suggesting–nor do I think this article is–that parents should be the new scapegoat or early-childhood be the main focus.  Instead, I believe that creative and caring educators seek out as many avenues as possible to reach their students and these areas can be another way to do just that. I am also suggesting that educators need their voices to stay within the reform discussion, making certain that government and private funding and resources go to all areas of need, not just a few.

Thank you for working on behalf of all children.

One thought on “What About Income Inequality?

  1. Chris, I’ve thought about this a lot, too. When you read the studies about early childhood language development and realize that children of professional parents come to school knowing nearly three times the number of words that children from impoverished homes know, I feel the need to educate parents about the importance of speaking and reading aloud to their children. I keep wondering what we can do to make this happen and I think about all of the state and federal monies being poured into Pearson and dream of reallocating that to intervention programs that would really make a difference. We cannot continue to turn a blind eye to poverty in our talk about school reform. This conversation is long overdue!

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