Poverty in Our Schools

(This was a message to my staff a few weeks ago.  I thought I would share it on this blog!) Did you know that 60% of our children in our school district are considered to be in poverty?  That’s out of about a 1,600 students in our district, 1,001 students meet the qualifications of poverty in our school.  Let’s get a grip on the reality – that is over half of the population.  Here we work to try and get our students to do homework, and they may be going home and their parents are not home, working two maybe three jobs to try and get food on the table.  Or, they are in the welfare system and getting by.  Some may be generational, other families trying their best, but it is a reality in our area.  St. Lawrence County ranks 55 out 62 in overall health in all counties of NY State. We may speculate why this is, but it is here and it is present in our schools in Gouverneur.  We need to realize that some of our students come to school, and this is a safe place for them.  Some of our students see school as their safe haven, getting a hot breakfast and lunch, not having and then going home to deal whatever they need to deal with at home. To be honest with you, I was one of those kids.  My family was depended on SSI believe it or not!  We were a blue collar family in the suburbs, and when my father was placed on disability, to make ends meet, I collected SSI to help with payments because my dad became ill and was put on disability.  My mom worked two jobs, one during the day, one during the weekend.  It wasn’t easy, and thanks to such a strong family support system, we three girls all went to college because as my mother and father said, “You have NO CHOICE!”  In reflection, when my I get together with my sisters, we are grateful for our upbringing and nurturing of a strong work ethic. In a few weeks, a cadre of us will be venturing to Union College to go to the Poverty Symposium that NYSASCD will be hosting.  NYSASCD brings great workshops to the state and this one resonated strongly with me because we have been targeted as LAP school, both East and West Side due to our scores with Economically Disadvantage Students.  NYSASCD has guest bloggers that write about the subject of poverty in our schools.  One of the articles written about poverty and  brain research can be found here. We know the “have not’s” in our school when we try online web access with our students and ask if there is internet access at home.  We know the “have not’s” in our school when we try online web access and learning at home.  Check out this article here about inequity in the digital divide. I have also cited in a blog last year about poverty in the US and how we are being compared with Finland.  How our students are trying to grasp the CCSS and the focus has been on testing rather than focusing on fixing poverty in the US.  Also, how Maria Shriver did her research on how poverty effects single mothers and that 22% of our children are in poverty in the US.  Check my post here. So, we have some work to do and understanding about how to work with our students and families.  Through the efforts of our parent group as well with our staff, we need to work as partners to help our students be successful, no matter what.  Let’s fight this for our children and our community!  Have a great week! But what about kids today?

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