I’m currently reading Alex Kotlowitz’s nationally acclaimed book, There Are No Children Here, a book that displays the harsh affects that poverty has on children who live through it, day in and day out. Kotlowitz starts off by focusing on the violent and burdensome social lives of Lafayette and Pharoah Rivers but then dovetails into very important aspects of the poverty story that has often been said to not be affected by poverty: the school and education of the impoverished child.
Kotlowitz, before describing and connecting the affect that poverty has on Lafayette and Pharoah’s education, gives a general summary of what little resources the principal and teachers have to work with.
“Also, Suder [one of the local schools serving the few thousand kids growing up in the crime infested Horner projects] must share a nurse and psychologist with three other schools and a social worker with four other schools.”
Not only do the children live in poverty, but the schools themselves operate and function in poverty.
But this sentence resonated with me for another reason. My high school severed students from three large project developments. Even though these projects were similar, though less dangerous than Horner, it was obvious that a large number of my fellow classmates were behaviorally troubled because of their environment. What’s more is that my high school in 2010 shared a social worker with three other high schools, like Horner in 1987. Nearly a quarter of a century later and we still can’t admit that not acknowledging poverty as a real detriment to students academic and social success has much to do with why children who live through it can’t break the cycle.
I admire this book, because like How Children Succeed, it acknowledges that education needs more than “better” teachers. The problem is far more complicated than that.