Written by, Claire Shepherd
Using Scholarship Funds to Break the Cycle of Poverty
Education is paramount for all children, but perhaps it is of most importance to those children from lower income households as it will often be their only chance to escape from such poverty themselves. Unfortunately kids from low-income homes and poor areas do not do well in the schools provided for them. This is often through no fault of the child or parents, but because the system itself is failing these children and their families and not providing the chances needed to break out of a vicious circle.
Dropout rates for children from low income families are seven times higher than those from higher income homes. Children want to be inspired and engaged when at school and the vast majority both want to learn and enjoy their education. But schools at the lower end of the academic spectrum in these poor areas cannot provide the correct learning environments for these children and they lose interest and they lose faith. The poverty spiral then continues. Children from lower income homes are less likely to enroll in a full school program and more likely to drop out if they do. These kids then can’t get a job themselves, leading to more grinding poverty. They then have children themselves and the circle continues. Poverty begets poverty.
Poverty and Education
Poverty is the real problem in modern American education. The schools in the US may be some of the best in the world, but that class of education just doesn’t trickle down to the children in the lowest decile of income, often in the most isolated and segregated communities. These children are held captive in a system that cares less about them and more about test scores, money and teacher tenure. Trapped, it is little wonder they drop out, especially after seeing how decade after decade of stagnation and piecemeal reform has blighted the generations of their parents and grandparents. Though many assistance programs have been started by almost every president there is little progress to show, with only the best schools getting better while the worst fall further behind.
Overall schools in America aren’t failing. You just have to look at the test scores from kids in more affluent neighborhoods to see that some schools provide the best education in the world for their pupils. However, some schools in the US, predominantly the ones located in low-income, poverty-stricken areas are failing the children in their charge, and failing them miserably. These schools are neglected by the school boards and local politics and are often “written-off” tragically, along with the children that attend. For any parent wanting to buck the trend and send their child to a school not immediately sanctioned by the local school board, the costs can be exorbitant. Fees easily range into the thousands of dollars and that is before the other costs of education have been taken into account: travel to and from the new school, meals, clothing and printed resources all add to rising costs of the child’s educational needs. Parents from middle or higher income homes struggle in the current economic climate to meet these demands never mind those at or below the poverty line.
This can be heartbreaking for parents that really want the best for their children and for them to have opportunities unavailable to them when they were young. With all these problems it has been left to individual states and committed citizens within them to bring hope to such people. Scholarship funds such as the Maine Children’s Scholarship Fund can allow parents of children who would excel if only they were taught better, to afford private tuition, home tuition or to send their child further afield to allow them to reach a level of attainment not afforded in their own community. Such funds marry the scholarship payments with a personal contribution from the family. This allows the child to seek greater educational opportunities while still giving the parents the satisfaction of contributing to their child’s education. This is important for both parent and child. The child can see how much their parents are involved in their education and how much they care, while the parent can feel truly involved, probably for the first time, in the child’s education and both can feel the very true warmth of achievement when the child does excel in their new surroundings.