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Runninghead:CHILDHOODPOVERTY

ChildhoodPoverty
DericBatt&MicahJackson
BallStateUniversity

CHILDHOODPOVERTY

ChildhoodPoverty
Childhoodisoneofthemostimportantdevelopmentalperiodsinanindividualslife.Itis
duringthisperiodindividualsoftengaintheirprimaryinterestsandcuriosities,developingthe
drivetopursueafieldofinterest.Itisalsointhisperiodwheremanychildrenstarttodedicate
themselvestotheattainmentofknowledge,whichisagiftthatoftenlastindividualsalifetime.
Recentresearch,however,findschildrenfromlowersocioeconomicbackgroundsfacecertain
difficultieswhichmakeacademicachievementandthepursuitoftheirinterestmoredifficultto
maintain.ThisproblemisespeciallyevidentinMuncie,Indiana,wherechildhoodpovertyrates
areconsistentlyhigh,especiallyinsomeelementaryschoolsandstandardizedtestscoresare
ratherlow.Failingtoengagechildrenbeforetheseagescanleadtolessenedlifetime
achievementsforthesechildren,potentiallycreatingafuturecrisisintheMuncieeducation
system.
ThecityofMuncie,IndianaisamidsizedAmericancitywhichonceservedasahubof
industry.Aftertheshutteringofmanymanufacturingfacilitiesandautomotivesplantsinthe
1990s,Munciesoonfounditselfasacityrippedfromitsidentityasamanuallabortown,
sendingmuchofthelongtermmanufacturingpopulationintoajobmarketdevoidofthe
industrytheyspentmanyyearshoningtheirskillsin.Withmanyoftheseemployersgone,
Munciehasslowlybecomeacityofpoverty,withpresentUnitedStatesCensusdataestimating
asmanyas33.4%ofMunciescitizenscurrentlyliveinpoverty,overtwicetherateofIndianaas
awhole(15.4%)(UnitedStatesCenusBureau,2015).Whilethisdataillustratesaserious
economiccrisisoccurringwithinthiscity,italsoobfuscatesaperhapsbiggerissuehidingunder
thesurface.

CHILDHOODPOVERTY

WhilethecityofMunciehasanoutstandingproblemindealingwithpoverty,theMuncie
CommunitySchoolsystemfacesanevenbiggerconcernwithchildrencomingfromfamilies
undersucheconomicdistress.AccordingtodatacompiledbytheIndianaDepartmentof
Education,atotalof71%ofstudentsenrolledinMuncieCommunitySchoolspresentlyreceive
freeorreducedlunchbenefits,duetotheirfamiliessocioeconomicposition(2015a).For
whateverreason,theIndianaDepartmentofEducationhasnotseparatedthenumbersofstudents
receivingfreemealsatschoolfromthenumbersofstudentsreceivingreducedpricelunchesat
Indianaschoolssince2013.Thisisinteresting,asindividualsreceivingreducedlunchprices
mustbelongtoafamilycurrentlyunder185%ofthefederalpovertyguidelines,comparedto
individualswhoreceivefreelunchbenefits,whohavetofallwithin130%ofthefederalpoverty
guidelines.Recognizingthis,itbecomesclearthatthedegreeoffinancialinsecurityindividuals
inthesefamiliesfaceisastoundingdifferent.Utilizing2013data,onefindsonly7.7%of
studentsreceivedreducedpricelunchbenefits,with65.4%ofstudentsreceivingfreelunch
benefits(IndianaDepartmentofEducation,2015a).Thesenumbersseemtosignifythepresence
offarmorechildreninfamiliesinorveryclosetopovertyfarmorethantheofficialpoverty
numbersforthecitymightindicate.
Thesenumbersarealarming,asmanycurrentstudiesindicatethatindividualsfromlower
socioeconomicbackgroundsfaceaddeddifficultiestowardsattaininghighdegreesofacademic
achievement.A2005articlepublishedinthe
JournalofFamilyPsychology
foundthatthe
educationalachievementofchildrensparents,alongsidetheirsocioeconomicstatus,hada
positivecorrelationwithacademicachievement(DavisKean,2005).Thetendencyforstudents
frombettersocioeconomicbackgroundstoperformbetter,whilethosefromlower

CHILDHOODPOVERTY

socioeconomicbackgroundstendtoperformworse,appearstobeconnectedtoseveralfactors.
Onestudyfoundthatfamiliesfromhighersocioeconomicbackgroundstendtohavemoretimeto
spendwiththeirchildren,providingbondingtimeandopportunitiestoshareinandencourage
academicprogress(Lacour&Tissington,2011).Forfamiliesinpoverty,theireconomic
insecuritiesoftenmeanfamiliesaresubjectedtohigherlevelsofstress,makingitharderforthem
tofindthetimetospendwiththeirchildreninthismanner.Thisstudyalsofoundthataccessto
educationalmaterialsandresourceswashigheramongindividualsfrombettersocioeconomic
backgrounds,indicatingindividualsfrompovertymaynothaveaccesstothefundamental
materials,suchasbooksandeducationallystimulatingmedia,thatpromotethekindofmental
stimulationthatindividualsfromhighersocioeconomicstatusesenjoy.Inthismanner,children
inpovertyareoftenataninnatedisadvantagecomparedtochildrenfromeconomicallystable
households.
Insomemanner,thishelpsexplainsomeoftheeducationalissueswefindatsomeofthe
worstoffschoolsintheMuncieCommunitySchoolsystem.Forexample,GrissomElementary
school,theMuncieCommunitySchoolwiththehighestrateoffreeandreducedlunch
participation(IndianaDepartmentofEducation,2015c),alsohasthelowestISTEP+
standardizedtestscoresamongtheregionschoolsystem(IndianaDepartmentofEducation,
2015b).Thishighlightstheeffectthatpoverty,especiallyendemicpovertywithinaschool
district,canhaveonindividualsandthecommunity.Withthebasisofschooldistrictsbeing
smallareasinwhichallchildrenareassignedtoaparticularschool,societyhasnowadded
impoverishedneighborhoodsandcommunitiestotheeconomicbarriersthesechildrenfacein
theirpursuitofeducationandalifefreefrompoverty.

CHILDHOODPOVERTY

Theescapefrompovertyformanyindividualsisratherclear:education.Educationhas
routinelybeenshowntoincreaseyearlyincome,lifetimeincome,andcareerconsistency(Tilak,
2002). Education,ultimately,isthebesttooltohelpindividuals,especiallyyoungindividuals,
escapepoverty.Forthesechildrenwhoarepresentlylivinginpovertyandoftenlivingwithout
educationalresources,theirlongtermescapeverymuchappearstobeintheveryareatheir
circumstanceoftenhindersthemfromcreatinghighachievementscenarios.Asasociety,we
mustrecognizethistragicsetofcircumstances,theimpoverishedhavinglimitedaccesstothe
materialsbestassociatedwiththeescapefrompoverty,andardentlyfighttoensurethatevery
childinpovertyhasaccesstoeducationalmaterials.Whilewecannotdirectlyaffecttheparents
abilitytospendtimefosteringtheirchildrenseducationalinterest(althoughwecancertainly
contributetothisthroughencouragingandaidingfamiliesinpoverty),weallcontaintheability
toadvocateforeducationalaccessandprovideeducationalliteraturetothesecommunities.
Educationisthekeytocreatingabrightertomorrow.Wemustallhelpshinealighttothosewho
needitmost.

CHILDHOODPOVERTY

References
DavisKean,P.E.(2005).Theinfluenceofparenteducationandfamilyincomeonchild
achievement:Theindirectroleofparentalexpectationsandthehomeenvironment.
JournalofFamilyPsychology
.19(2).294304
IndianaDepartmentofEducation.(2015a).Corporationenrollmentbyethnicityandfree/reduced
pricemealstatus.Retrievedfrom
http://www.doe.in.gov/sites/default/files/accountability/corporationenrollmentellspecia
leducation200614.xlsx
IndianaDepartmentofEducation.(2015b)ISTEP+publicschoolresultsbygradelevel.
Retrievedfrom
http://www.doe.in.gov/sites/default/files/accountability/historical2014istepschoolpublic_
1.xlsx
IndianaDepartmentofEducation.(2015c).Schoolenrollmentbyethnicityandfree/reduced
pricemealstatus.Retrievedfrom
http://www.doe.in.gov/sites/default/files/accountability/schoolenrollmentethnicityandf
reereducedpricemealstatus200615.xls
Lacour,M.&Tissington,L.D.(2011).Theeffectsofpovertyonacademicachievement.
EducationalResearchandReviews
.6(7).522527.
Tilak,J.G.(2002).Educationandpoverty.
JournalOfHumanDevelopment
,3(2),191207.
doi:10.1080/14649880220147301
UnitedStatesCensusBureau.(2015).Munciequickfacts.Retrievedfrom
http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/18/1851876.html