Today’s educators face a myriad of concerns including the high concentrations of poverty that limit opportunities for young Americans to succeed in too many of our schools. That’s why the American school house must play a critical role in reducing the negative consequences of poverty by becoming a central component of federal, state, and local antipoverty strategies.
Factors from inadequate housing, food instability, and financial insecurity place stresses on young people that distract them from their studies and can cause them to disengage from school entirely. When poverty intersects with poor performing schools the outcome for low-income students can be devastating, from dramatically lower test scores as compared to their higher-income peers, to staggering dropout rates.
Communities across the country are finding that pairing antipoverty strategies with schools results in positive student outcomes as well as improves the delivery of public benefits. Although these are not traditional relationships, schools can play a pivotal role in providing the important economic services that stabilize families—services that can also eliminate some of the challenges that undermine student academic achievement. Already school-based antipoverty initiatives in places such as New York City, Michigan, San Diego, and New Mexico highlight the success students can realize, not only in the classroom but also as it concerns their overall sense of well-being, when the traditional role of the school is expanded to include services targeting poverty.
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