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Poverty Does Make a Difference

Gerald Bracey has something to say to critics who believe a child’s economic background is not a factor in their learning.

When people have said “poverty is no excuse,” my response has been, “Yes, you’re right. Poverty is not an excuse. It’s a condition. It’s like gravity. Gravity affects everything you do on the planet. So does poverty.”

He continues by offering some “brief snap shots of life at Tyler Heights”, a poor school in a rich suburb between Washington DC and Baltimore, Maryland, from a book about their students.

Especially stark, Bracey notes, is the contrast between the activities undertaken by kids at a school in a nearby “better” neighborhood and the work done by those at Tyler Heights.

“The practice of focusing on the tested subjects of reading and math at the expense of a well-rounded curriculum is far more prevalent where children are poor and minority” says Perlstein [author of Tested: One American School Struggles to Make the Grade]. “President Bush, in introducing NCLB, vowed to banish the ‘soft bigotry of low expectations’ for the nation’s disadvantaged children. To condemn them to a rudimentary education in the name of improvement is bigotry too.”

Well said!

poverty, education, nclb


  1. Ms Cornelius

    THAT is one great observation!

  2. Carolyn Foote

    Powerfully said.

    In reading this, I was reminded of a school I read about in the D.C. area, where the building had been divided into charter/public. The front doors of the building are almost side by side, at least that’s how it appears in the photograph I saw.

    If you enter on the charter side, the building is attractive, clean, remodeled. If you enter the “public school” door, it’s dreary, falling down, and uninviting.
    I sat there after I saw that photograph and read the article, just stunned.

    How can we do this to our children?

    Thanks for sharing his insightful comments.

    In aiming for the middle, NCLB misses too many children on either side of that.

    And I honestly believe, if we want to address ills in education, we also need to address the places we send our children. What do we say to them as people about their worth to us when we send them, bright-eyed, to ugly, deteriorating schools?

    Every child deserves a ‘clean, well-lighted’ place.

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