Some food for thought as kids head back to school
Many Georgia students return to the classroom this month. For most, the last days before school begins are an exciting time to squeeze in that last bit of summer fun and get stocked up on school supplies.
But for students in poverty, a new school year often brings levels of anxiety that most folks are unaware of.
For some perspective, here are some barriers to success that far too many Georgia students face:
Kids in poverty hear fewer spoken words than their affluent peers—setting in motion huge differences in vocabulary attainment and academic achievement that follow them the rest of their lives.
Kids in poverty often come to school hungry. In Georgia, more than 500,000 children experience hunger and are more likely to have lower math scores, be held back a grade, and lag behind language, motor skills, and behavior.
Kids in poverty are more likely to lack medical care. Sadly, Georgia has one of the highest childhood uninsured rates in the country. And while the relationship between education and health is complex, poor health can cause educational setbacks and interfere with schooling.
- Abuse and neglect
Georgia ranks 38th nationally in child well-being. In 2017, there were 10,487 child victims in the Peach State—with studies showing that poverty and mistreatment of children go hand in hand.
- Lack of enrichment
Kids in poverty are more likely to lack enriching opportunities in music, art, and theater than affluent kids. In fact, 70% of Georgia school district leaders say poverty is the most significant issue limiting student learning.
- Language barriers
Kids in poverty are more likely to come from homes where English is not spoken. In Atlanta, 7% of students do not speak English at home—creating another obstacle to overcome at school.
Knowing each child experiences education differently is a mandate for our education system to be malleable. Children of all backgrounds and experiences must have equal access to quality public education as well as individualized education options.