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Posts Tagged ‘poverty’

Extended stay motels help some, but hurt others

June 22, 2011 2 comments

City sees no room for hotel living  | ajc.com.

When I started reading this article, my thoughts wandered to the extended stay motels that dot the central part of South DeKalb. I can count at least twelve that I know of, so I am sure there are a dozen more I overlooked. I never really liked extended stays because they seem to be a magnet for crime no matter where they are. If you have ever driven south on Candler between I-20 and 285, you can see that many of the problems of prostitution, open drug deals, and general mayhem can be traced in part back to the extended stays in that corridor. After reading the above article, I realized that these places do serve a purpose for a small number of folks who have found traditional housing to be a challenge. I was really struck by one woman who described a situation where she found it nearly impossible to get an apartment through standard means.:

She recently found work as a shift manager at a Checkers fast-food restaurant. Harris runs the register, supervises four employees and opens or closes the restaurant depending on the schedule for $10 per hour.

That doesn’t leave much for savings, which is critical if Harris wants to move into her own place. Her application at a local apartment complex was recently denied after her credit report turned up an old unsettled bill. She was especially frustrated that she lost $20 on the application fee.

Other places have told her that her criminal record disqualifies her from consideration. Another complex accepted her application but wanted first and last month’s rent, which totaled $1,050.

Harris was forced to keep looking.

This woman has had some obvious challenges, and extended stay is her last option before living on the streets. And when there are children involved it makes it that much more distressing.

I would like to see DeKalb crack down on extended stays, but not to the point of pushing them out of business. Property owners should be held accountable for criminal activities that occur on their property. If there are code violations, the owners should be made to bring their property up to code or face stiff fines. And the police should put more resources into cleaning out problematic motels. If I, a normal citizen can see criminal activity from my car without having to stop and look for it, I have to believe the cops and the motel owners see it as well.

 

Can you reform poverty and ignorance?

May 2, 2011 Comments off

Snagged this from the AJC Get schooled blog. Its been around for a a week or so, but thoought it was well worth the read. No amount of resources will reform student achievement unless there is a change in mindset by parents. The most successful students have involved parents or guardians. The least successful students have parents who not only abdicate their responsibility towards education, they are lacking responsibility in most areas of their lives.

Are we asking too much of schools when we expect them to transcend indifferent parents? | Get Schooled.

Saquan lands at M.S. 223 because his family has been placed in a nearby homeless shelter. (His mother fled Brooklyn out of fear that another son was in danger of being killed.) At first, he is so disruptive that a teacher, Emily Dodd, thinks he might have a mental disability. But working with him one on one, Dodd discovers that Saquan is, to the contrary, unusually intelligent — “brilliant” even.

From that point on, Dodd does everything a school reformer could hope for. She sends him text messages in the mornings, urging him to come to school. She gives him special help. She encourages him at every turn. For awhile, it seems to take.

Meanwhile, other forces are pushing him in another direction. His mother, who works nights and barely has time to see her son, comes across as indifferent to his schooling. Though she manages to move the family back to Brooklyn, the move means that Saquan has an hour-and-a-half commute to M.S. 223. As his grades and attendance slip, Dodd offers to tutor him. To no avail: He finally decides it isn’t worth the effort, and transfers to a school in Brooklyn.

The point is obvious, or at least it should be: Good teaching alone can’t overcome the many obstacles Saquan faces when he is not in school. Nor is he unusual. Mahler recounts how M.S. 223 gives away goodie bags to lure parents to parent association meetings, yet barely a dozen show up. He reports that during the summer, some students fall back a full year in reading comprehension — because they don’t read at home.

Going back to the famous Coleman report in the 1960s, social scientists have contended — and unquestionably proved — that students’ socioeconomic backgrounds vastly outweigh what goes on in the school as factors in determining how much they learn. Richard Rothstein of the Economic Policy Institute lists dozens of reasons why this is so, from the more frequent illness and stress poor students suffer, to the fact that they don’t hear the large vocabularies that middle-class children hear at home.

Yet the reformers act as if a student’s home life is irrelevant. “There is no question that family engagement can matter,” said Klein when I spoke to him. “But they seem to be saying that poverty is destiny, so let’s go home. We don’t yet know how much education can overcome poverty,” he insisted — notwithstanding the voluminous studies that have been done on the subject. “To let us off the hook prematurely seems, to me, to play into the hands of the other side.”

That last sentence strikes me as the key to the reformers’ resistance: To admit the importance of a student’s background, they fear, is to give ammo to the enemy — which to them are their social-scientist critics and the teachers’ unions. But that shouldn’t be the case. Making schools better is always a goal worth striving for, whether it means improving pedagogy itself or being able to fire bad teachers more easily. Without question, school reform has already achieved some real, though moderate, progress.

What needs to be acknowledged, however, is that school reform won’t fix everything. Though some poor students will succeed, others will fail. Demonizing teachers for the failures of poor students, and pretending that reforming the schools is all that is needed, as the reformers tend to do, is both misguided and counterproductive.

Concentration of poor in South DeKalb hurts schools

March 23, 2011 2 comments

This is part of a NY Times Op-Ed. You can read the full thing here. Also read the comments, some are very enlightening.

Educators know that it is very difficult to get consistently good results in schools characterized by high concentrations of poverty. The best teachers tend to avoid such schools. Expectations regarding student achievement are frequently much lower, and there are lower levels of parental involvement. These, of course, are the very schools in which so many black and Hispanic children are enrolled.

Breaking up these toxic concentrations of poverty would seem to be a logical and worthy goal. Long years of evidence show that poor kids of all ethnic backgrounds do better academically when they go to school with their more affluent — that is, middle class — peers. But when the poor kids are black or Hispanic, that means racial and ethnic integration in the schools. Despite all the babble about a postracial America, that has been off the table for a long time.

I am a pessimist at heart and after reading the above Op-Ed from the NY Times, it just hardens me even more to the fact that our society continues to drift into two opposing camps. Not by race so much as by class. Education was touted as the equalizer to poverty. With a decent education you could escape the ignorance and poverty of the previous generation. Today, it seems that door is slowly closing. Fact is schools with large populations of poor families are the schools that are failing to educate their citizens out of poverty. In fact, these schools are doing the exact opposite. These schools have teachers with far less experience and far less passion. Children come from homes where education is marginalized only to arrive at school where the same attitude affects a super majority of the students and a few of the staff as well. Coming from a poverty stricken family is not the fault of the child, but we place the burden of being poor on the child. Children who have the opportunity to escape these poverty stricken schools do far better than those who are stuck there. Concentrating poor and uneducated people in any situation is not good for them nor is it good for our society. It did not work in housing, and it is not working in our educational system.

DeKalb schools spotlighted six years ago in USA Today

December 6, 2010 5 comments

This article was sent by a reader recently, and I just had to share it just in case people had not read the comments from my last post. Here are a few quotes from the article.

This year(2004) at Vanderlyn, in a quiet DeKalb County suburb northeast of Atlanta, the PTA raised an eye-popping $133,166 and is lavishing it on the kids: $12,000 for the library, $12,500 for the gym, $4,000 for landscaping, $2,250 for “student incentives.”

Then to be contrasted with this statement:

Toney boasts a successful “Treasure Chest” program that rewards kids and parents who read books. Read a book, take home a prize: toothbrushes, soap, deodorant, blankets, canned goods. “Everything that they may be too proud to ask for,”

Basic necessities  are given as rewards! What’s worst, is that the reward system applies to parents as well as students. This an awful way to start life.

Addressing poverty and ignorance seems to be an elusive goal in education. Poverty is more entrenched and more dangerous than society wants to admit.

Experts say the effects of poverty fall squarely on minority students. John Logan, a demographic researcher at State University of New York-Albany, has found that the average black or Hispanic student attends an elementary school in which about two-thirds of classmates are poor; for whites, fewer than a third of classmates are poor.

Education is suppose to be the path out of poverty, but too many poor families are stuck in a cycle of poverty, poor education and a society unwilling to admit that poor students may need more resources.

Even middle-class minority students aren’t exempt: The average black family with an income of more than $60,000 lives in a neighborhood with a higher poverty rate than the average white family earning less than $30,000, he says.

This could explain why schools with solid middle class students are still suffering

Recent research also shows that poor students, who are least likely to find help at home, are least likely to find it at school. Poorly prepared, uncertified teachers are concentrated in urban and rural school districts, says Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford University. “It all adds up,” she says.

Resources that are most needed in urban classrooms are not there.

This article sums up not only what is wrong in DeKalb, but5 what is also wrong in our education system in general. The sad part is that This article could have been written in 2010 with the same schools, and the facts would remain absolutely the same.,