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How Poverty Affects Education for Youth

Updated: Sep 28, 2020



The word "poverty" is defined as "a state or condition in which a person or community lacks the financial resources and essentials for a minimum standard of living." This past year, approximately 15 million children in the United States were affected by poverty.


When looking at how poverty impacts families and specifically children, it is important to look at the specific areas of life that are affected by poverty. For children especially, education often suffers greatly at the hands of poverty. It is easy to see how this presents many problems, for education is an extremely crucial part of life. As youth are maturing, education provides them with a path to develop their own opinions and beliefs. Every adolescent, no matter what their financial background looks like, deserves to have equal opportunities when it comes to education. Unfortunately, it is impossible to ignore the fact that children who come from impoverished homes are at a stark disadvantage when it comes to education. "The impact of poverty on a child's academic achievement is significant and starts early. Young children growing up in poverty face challenges with cognitive and literary ability and {often} begin school both academically and socioeconomically behind their peers from higher income backgrounds," says Jonah Edelman, CEO of a non-profit organization that advocates for education called "Stand for Children." Children growing up in impoverished homes may not have access to the same learning materials as their peers due to a lack of financial means. They could be lacking a stable support system and shouldering stress at home as the parents are often moving around frequently and searching for a job. They are likely to be suffering in some way physically/mentally because they do not have access to the same healthcare opportunities as their more privileged counterparts. These children are likely to be behind in terms of literacy/ language development compared to students who do not come from impoverished homes. All of these factors, influenced by poverty, have immense effects on youth education.


Now, it is important to look at what we can do as members of society in order to aid in the fight against poverty and help children everywhere gain access to the education that they deserve. What steps must we take to further this process? Kati Haycock, president and CEO of a national non-profit organization called Education Trust, addresses this very question. Haycock says, "Low-income children need our most expert teachers. And, unless our schools are held accountable for the achievement of all groups of children, too many will continue to sweep poor outcomes under the rug." Children from impoverished homes cannot be ignored when it comes to education. We must work to ensure that they have equal opportunities in the classroom and a stable support system. Teachers and peers must try thier best to give students from impoverished homes opportunites that they may not have access to in their own homes. Every student deserves to feel comfortable in their school environment, no matter what their home life may look like.


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