Is Being Poor the Hardest Job in America?


Reality Check: Is Being Poor the Hardest Job in America?


IMG_0033It is another day and I am running around doing all of the morning logistics that we all do. In the background I have the early morning news on, just in case, I like to know what is happening in the world.

That being said, we all exist in our own little world. I take my dogs for their early morning run and remark to myself the easiness of my surroundings. It is a beautiful neighborhood in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.  House are not cookie-cutter but have a variety of individual size and design. My house is more modest than most, but still represents comfort and security to me. No matter what happens, it is always there. I could exist in my own world without thinking about what reality is for some. I choose not to do this.

In the background of chatter this morning I heard someone say, “Being poor is the hardest job in America.” I would credit whoever said this but I don’t know. These words resonated with me as I am always in pursuit of equal rights, equality and equity. My passion is to improve education for those who don’t have opportunity knocking at their door. My goal is to right some of the wrongs of the past knowing or believing that education is the key. It is the ticket out.

There are several prominent educational philosophies out there. Many believe if you give vouchers and privatize education the poor will benefit. I ask, “What will happen to the existing underperforming schools? How will the remaining students improve if you take a few and put them in a better school? What happens to the remaining at-risk students?”

Many believe these students don’t want to learn or their parents don’t care. This is simply not true. Almost all parents want better for their children. Maybe they can’t express it or are afraid to say it, but no one turns away the option of progress and improvement. I know “if you build it, they will come.”  Educate the parents. Do whatever it takes to get them in the door of the school. Show them what you dream for their child. Give them hope. Be sincere.

On top of that, help teachers with the tools they need to raise the standards and expectations. Make instruction the most important thing. Prepare these students to be a productive force for the future of our world.

Give schools the money to train and reward excellent teaching and keep up-to-date with technology and instructional materials. Give support for different ways of learning such as STEM and STE[a]M.

It was just another morning,  but it wasn’t. I watched the Volvos and Mercedes pass me and my dogs and as I sent my son off to school, and  I felt profoundly grateful. I am educated. I know how to be resourceful and resilient. My education has prepared me to be a parent and an educator, not a perfect one, but one who can manifest, take risks and evaluate and re-do when needed. Being poor is oppressive. If I don’t completely know what this is like, I understand it. It is not poor people’s fault. Sometimes you can’t just work harder. You need help. You need education and opportunity.

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