View Poll Results: Why do the poor do badly in school?

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  • lack of ability - poor can't do the work and feel stupid

    8 15.69%
  • lack of motivation - poor can't study way out of poverty

    18 35.29%
  • school is racist - not taught things important to poor's race

    1 1.96%
  • school is class-based - not taught things important to poor's class

    5 9.80%
  • schools are underfunded - don't have special programs to help the poor

    15 29.41%
  • urban schools don't attract talented teachers

    17 33.33%
  • rural schools don't attract talented teachers

    12 23.53%
  • socio-economic factors

    28 54.90%
  • gang culture

    23 45.10%
  • other... (please describe)

    23 45.10%
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Thread: Why do the poor do badly in school?

  1. #21
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    Re: Why do the poor do badly in school?

    i was surprised to learn while reading The Outliers that urban poor students perform as well as suburban elite students in school
    ... but only for the nine months that school is active
    the poor students fall behind during the three months of summer each year
    it was found that the affluent students are exposed to enriching experiences, camps, vacations, etc. which types of learning activities are not available to their poorer counterparts
    the difference is barely perceptible early in their education, but after 12 years the accumulated delta is significant
    the conclusion i take from that finding is that we need to abandon the present school calandar, one which was established during an agrarian age when kids needed to be home tending crops in the summer - we need year round schools
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    Re: Why do the poor do badly in school?

    Quote Originally Posted by justabubba View Post
    i was surprised to learn while reading The Outliers that urban poor students perform as well as suburban elite students in school
    ... but only for the nine months that school is active
    the poor students fall behind during the three months of summer each year
    it was found that the affluent students are exposed to enriching experiences, camps, vacations, etc. which types of learning activities are not available to their poorer counterparts
    the difference is barely perceptible early in their education, but after 12 years the accumulated delta is significant
    the conclusion i take from that finding is that we need to abandon the present school calandar, one which was established during an agrarian age when kids needed to be home tending crops in the summer - we need year round schools
    I fully and totally support the change to a year-round school year. However, if we do so, I think that we should make Fridays a "free day" at school when students can pursue their own interests or get tutoring in subjects they're falling behind in. That way, kids won't have too regimented of a lifestyle and they'll have the time to pursue things the school may not cover.

  3. #23
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    Re: Why do the poor do badly in school?

    Quote Originally Posted by samsmart View Post
    I fully and totally support the change to a year-round school year. However, if we do so, I think that we should make Fridays a "free day" at school when students can pursue their own interests or get tutoring in subjects they're falling behind in. That way, kids won't have too regimented of a lifestyle and they'll have the time to pursue things the school may not cover.
    There are still a few places where the local schools need to release kids for farming/harvest. I think Idaho still has a fall break for the potato harvest.
    But for the most part, farming has become mechanized to the point that the kids aren't needed...
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    Re: Why do the poor do badly in school?

    I think some of the above would apply but I picked other.

    I believe it has to do with self esteem, poor parenting, gangsta rap, drugs, and sometimes plain old laziness.

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    Re: Why do the poor do badly in school?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mellie View Post
    I grew up poor, but I was a straight A student and was the second one in my family to go to college. I graduated college with honors.

    I think it has a lot to do with them thinking they can't do better than their parents. They think they can't go to college because they don't have the money (I used loans and scholarships). I assume they just think they'll live like their parents, so why even try?

    I wish I could vote for more than one...
    Mellie, what caused you to be so motivated? Was it expected of you that you would attend college? Did your parents go to college? Are you now poor or did your education help you out of that?

    You can vote for more than one option...

  6. #26
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    Re: Why do the poor do badly in school?

    Quote Originally Posted by reefedjib View Post
    I said:

    1. lack of motivation
    2. urban schools don't attract talented teachers
    3. rural schools don't attract talented teachers
    4. gang culture (urban)
    5. socio-economic factors

    I ranked my answers. I think motivation is the primary issue, by a long shot. Second to that is lack of talented teachers.

    I don't know how to motivate the poor.
    I don't think it is motivation. In general, students perform much like their peers. If you're in a school district where 80-90% of kids are performing below grade level, those students aren't unmotivated, they are normal. Beyond that, when you look at risk factors for certain behaviors, these risk factors tend to cluster.

    Poverty is a risk factor for school performance because it puts stress on families and individuals. It also tends to cause clusters of risk factors that can negatively impact youth, community organizations, families, and schools, such as community disorganization, poor bonding/attachment to the community, family disorganization, poor family management, etc.

    I've worked with poor kids for the past 19 years now. What I would suggest is that it looks somewhat different than what you've proposed.

    1. Children don't learn to read in the early school years.

    This occurs for a variety of reasons. First, we are still fighting wars over how poor children will be taught. And we haven't yet figured out what works well with these students. Hence, entire areas of the U.S. are rife with illiteracy.

    Here's an article that explains what I'm talking about:

    Reading Wars: Phonics vs. Whole Language

    2. Low family/community support for education.

    When I say family support, what I mean is that literacy is supported, encouraged, and practiced in the home. A great example of what I'm talking about is John Ogbu's groundbreaking study on middle class black student failure, called Black American Students in an Affluent Suburb: A Study of Academic Disengagement. I'd suggest that if you really care about this subject, you read about it, and his findings:

    Editor's Review of John U. Ogbu's Black American Students in an Affluent Suburb: A Study of Academic Disengagement

    One of the most interesting findings by Ogbu was that black parents did very little to support their children's educations.

    Ogbu found that the overarching “cultural model of pedagogy” of the Black parents was that teachers and the schools should make their children learn and achieve success. Given this ethos, Black parents’ school participation and involvement were dismal among working-class, middle-class, and professional parents. Similarly, parental involvement at home indicated a lack of close supervision of children’s homework, poor coaching on effective time management, lack of shielding from negative peer pressures, and ineffective methods for motivating children to engage in schoolwork.
    I would say that this holds true, in general, in many poor areas I've worked in, from barrios of East L.A. to poor rural southern Missouri. Parental involvement is a crucial factor in whether kids will perform well in school or not.

    3. Other factors that play a role:

    a) Lack of access to health/dental care. It's hard to focus in school when you're in pain, don't have the glasses you need to see the front of the class, have a rotten tooth in your mouth, etc. I've seen an inordinate amount of kids who struggle with these issues.

    b) Family stressors keep students from focusing on school. Mom's a crackhead. Dad's in prison. The kids are babysitting each other. You'll see clusters of dysfunction in poor-performing school areas, and they tend to involve family upheaval, family stress, family dysfunction, and the like.

    c) Because of #2, some schools end up as dumping grounds for the teachers who would not be tolerated elsewhere. Lack of parental engagement in education is hugely significant. If parents are not involved, the performance of school staff often tends to be substandard.
    Last edited by Catz Part Deux; 05-02-10 at 12:09 PM.

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    Re: Why do the poor do badly in school?

    Quote Originally Posted by Catz Part Deux View Post
    I don't think it is motivation. In general, students perform much like their peers. If you're in a school district where 80-90% of kids are performing below grade level, those students aren't unmotivated, they are normal. Beyond that, when you look at risk factors for certain behaviors, these risk factors tend to cluster.

    Poverty is a risk factor for school performance because it puts stress on families and individuals. It also tends to cause clusters of risk factors that can negatively impact youth, community organizations, families, and schools, such as community disorganization, poor bonding/attachment to the community, family disorganization, poor family management, etc.

    I've worked with poor kids for the past 19 years now. What I would suggest is that it looks somewhat different than what you've proposed.
    Thank you for adding your experienced opinion, Cat. I would say that I didn't even consider the first item, failure to learn to read, which seems to be a result of either family disengagement in student learning (your #2) or outright family dysfunction (your #3b).

    Your second item: Low family/community support for education, I consider to be one of the core factors behind my lack of motivation item. It is good to see you break it out.

    I read both links, and although I don't have quotes for all of it, certain things struck me.

    1. Children don't learn to read in the early school years.

    This occurs for a variety of reasons. First, we are still fighting wars over how poor children will be taught. And we haven't yet figured out what works well with these students. Hence, entire areas of the U.S. are rife with illiteracy.

    Here's an article that explains what I'm talking about:

    Reading Wars: Phonics vs. Whole Language
    Here are the quotes that really struck me. My sister has a 5 year old learning to read with Phonics at the moment. I sent her the link and some highlights on the findings of NCLB and NRP and critiques.

    Students who come from "high literacy" households--where young children are read to on a regular basis, there are lots of children's books, and adults read regularly--tend to learn to read well regardless of the teaching approach used. These students tend to enter school with large vocabularies and reading readiness skills (an estimated 5% can already read when they enter school).

    Students from "low literacy" households are not exposed much to reading in their homes and tend to have smaller vocabularies (as much as one-half the vocabularies of students from high literacy homes). They may speak non-standard dialects of English such as African American English and can be unmotivated students, especially if they see teachers as enemies trying to change how they speak and act, in other words their language and culture. It is argued that standard phonics approaches can be unsuccessful for these students. Whole language approaches encourage teachers to find reading material that reflects these students' language and culture.
    I suppose I was read to and learned at home to read. It was not delegated to school to do the job and my parents were involved in my education. The same is true of my sister and her approach to the learning of her children.

    2. Low family/community support for education.

    When I say family support, what I mean is that literacy is supported, encouraged, and practiced in the home. A great example of what I'm talking about is John Ogbu's groundbreaking study on middle class black student failure, called Black American Students in an Affluent Suburb: A Study of Academic Disengagement. I'd suggest that if you really care about this subject, you read about it, and his findings:

    Editor's Review of John U. Ogbu's Black American Students in an Affluent Suburb: A Study of Academic Disengagement

    One of the most interesting findings by Ogbu was that black parents did very little to support their children's educations.



    I would say that this holds true, in general, in many poor areas I've worked in, from barrios of East L.A. to poor rural southern Missouri. Parental involvement is a crucial factor in whether kids will perform well in school or not.
    That lack of involvement in their children's education is sad. I also found this to be disturbing and close to the "white-man's education" dilemma.

    Ogbu critiques Boykin’s (1986) “triple quandary” hypothesis regarding Black students’ ability to navigate a Black world and a White world. Ogbu grounds his critique in his and other scholars’ comparative research (Gibson, 1988; Johnson, 1999; Ogbu, 1987; Suárez-Orozco, 1989), challenging the reader to consider that several immigrant minorities, including Black (African and Caribbean) immigrants, outperform Black American students in public schools despite their cultural differences. Additionally, Ogbu states further that “the relationship between African cultures and White American culture is similar to the relationship between the cultures of immigrants from Asia, and South and Central America and White American culture” (p. 39). For Ogbu, these cultures are different from White American culture, but not oppositional. Therefore, he raises the question of why Black American students cannot get beyond cultural differences in schools when members of other minority groups do. Many have argued against this position, suggesting that this viewpoint does not consider the history of discrimination and oppression that Blacks have experienced in America and their skepticism about the “American Dream” (Ogbu, 1987; Perry et al., 2003).
    I wanted to add that this oppositional attitude is probably prevalent in poor white communities, and not limited to Black Americans.


    3. Other factors that play a role:

    a) Lack of access to health/dental care. It's hard to focus in school when you're in pain, don't have the glasses you need to see the front of the class, have a rotten tooth in your mouth, etc. I've seen an inordinate amount of kids who struggle with these issues.

    b) Family stressors keep students from focusing on school. Mom's a crackhead. Dad's in prison. The kids are babysitting each other. You'll see clusters of dysfunction in poor-performing school areas, and they tend to involve family upheaval, family stress, family dysfunction, and the like.

    c) Because of #2, some schools end up as dumping grounds for the teachers who would not be tolerated elsewhere. Lack of parental engagement in education is hugely significant. If parents are not involved, the performance of school staff often tends to be substandard.
    #3b is disturbing. The combination of 1, 2, and 3b are all outside of school and lead's perhaps to oppositional attitudes among students. I don't think this is restricted to black students, although the causes may be dissimilar. Poor whites also have an oppositional attitude.

    None of these can be affected by educational spending. In fact, only #3c of your points can be affected thus.

    Thanks again!
    Last edited by reefedjib; 05-02-10 at 02:03 PM.

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    Re: Why do the poor do badly in school?

    Lack of motivation tops my list. The problem isn't that poverty automatically breeds more poverty. It's that it takes that much more work to break the cycle - work that a vast majority of impoverished people really aren't wanting to do. Socioeconomic factors do help, as more opportunities mean a higher success rate. However, I'm completely convinced that poor people have a defeatist attitude when it comes to self-betterment and achievement, and know that the path is harder than it is for someone else, so they just question it to the point of not following it.

    There are opportunities out there for everyone. Just not equal opportunities. The world is not fair. You do what you can do with what you got.

  9. #29
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    Re: Why do the poor do badly in school?

    Quote Originally Posted by reefedjib View Post
    I said:

    1. lack of motivation
    2. urban schools don't attract talented teachers
    3. rural schools don't attract talented teachers
    4. gang culture (urban)
    5. socio-economic factors

    I ranked my answers. I think motivation is the primary issue, by a long shot. Second to that is lack of talented teachers.

    I don't know how to motivate the poor.
    Nor do I.
    The Liberals are going to have to work hard and long on this one.
    The Covservatives, tea baggers, Libertarians impress me as not caring..
    To them its always smaller government, reduced taxes..
    The poor will always be among us.

  10. #30
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    Re: Why do the poor do badly in school?

    Quote Originally Posted by earthworm View Post
    Nor do I.
    The Liberals are going to have to work hard and long on this one.
    The Covservatives, tea baggers, Libertarians impress me as not caring..
    To them its always smaller government, reduced taxes..
    The poor will always be among us.
    Well, I think it's a given that we'll always have the poor among us. What's important is that we don't turn the middle class into the poor.

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