It seems like a new study comes out every day about something. Theories are posited. Hypotheses are proven or disproven. Claims are made, then retracted. It can all be a bit confusing.
However, over the past fifteen years, one piece of data has remained persistently and painfully true. There is a huge chasm in exposure and opportunity for children based purely upon their socioeconomic status. A recent episode of Innovation Hub explores this issue in a conversation with author Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, co-director of the Temple University Infant and Child Lab in Philadelphia, who discusses the “dramatic” gap between children from lower-income and middle-income households.
You can listen to the experts discuss by listening to the podcast below. I’ll just share a few reasons why I think this issue is too important to ignore any longer, why we should act on it now, and some simple ways we can all be involved.
- The facts clearly show children from low-income families start at a deficit, attend underfunded and under-resourced schools, and a more likely to experience more barriers to opportunity than children from middle- and upper-income families. When all those obstacles to achievement exist, the likelihood that children from poverty-stricken neighborhoods will experience any upward mobility is extremely low.
- The simple reason we should act now is because it’s the right thing to do and because we love justice and fairness. However, if that’s not a compelling enough reason for you, the challenges we face as communities are becoming more complex, requiring a critical mass of critical thinkers. If entire communities are hindered from reaching their intellectual and creative potential, then improving outcomes and building for the future becomes an extremely difficult, if not impossible, task.
- How can we be involved? I’m glad you asked. Here are just a few:
- Support public schools and universal early childhood education.
- Buy books and get them into the hands of children and families from disadvantaged neighborhoods. If you can’t buy a book, then write a story and share it with children in your community. It also helps (a lot) if those books and stories have characters that look like the children you’re sharing them with.
- Be intentional about hiring individuals with less opportunity and paying them a fair wage that allows them to invest in learning (for themselves and for their children).
- Support adult education and workforce development programs in your community.