Today’s blog post is from Brenda Kittles, Development Operations Coordinator for Foundation and Corporation Relations.
Over the past few months, I have read dozens of articles focusing on education reform and teacher quality. I’ve noticed that what is often ignored in these articles is discussion of the external factors that can undermine efforts to transform schools or improve teacher quality.
What good are stellar teachers when students miss school because they don’t have a warm coat? Or they can’t afford the materials necessary for their school project? How can students study for exams when they are worried about where they are going to sleep for the night?
The poverty rate is at its highest level since 1993, at 15.1 percent. More than 2.6 million people became impoverished last year, which means that 46 million people are currently living below the poverty line. Getting more specific, the poverty level of children in the United States is currently standing at about 22 percent. Can you imagine lining up 10 kids at your child’s or family member’s school, and two out of the 10 are living in poverty?
Communities In Schools is determined to help students overcome issues such as poverty and move on to be successful and productive adults. During the 2009-2010 school year, 87 percent of the students we worked with were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Every day, our site coordinators are providing resources that students need, whether it’s a coat for the winter, school supplies throughout the year or nutritious food to have on weekends.
We should keep in our consciousness that students often have unmet needs apart from a solid curriculum or competent teacher. Communities In Schools is part of the solution, and works to ensure that young people can focus on what’s most important – their education.