There has been much talk at our school during professional development about poverty.
The school I am working now has examples of two kind's of poverty. Urban poverty and immigration poverty are the leading types among the students. There seems to be much study on how poverty affects students and I have no argument. Poverty of any kind affects those in poverty.
While I was in the middle east, I was asked many times how I could sponsor some local to immigrate to America. While I acknowledged their own country and living conditions could use improvement, I asked why. Why do you want to come to America? The answer I got, over and over again, from several different people was the same. When we watch television programs from America, even the poor are fat! For me this really struck me on how the differences between a first world country and a third world country. At the time I was not an educator but I never forgot that experience.
Immigration poverty, what is it and how does it affect students? I can't even come close to answering that. This is a fairly new problem that needs attention. And don't think this is a Hispanic/Latino thing. When I lived in Iowa, there were several areas that immigration from Bosnia and Serbia, most were refugees. Immigration poverty was and still is a big problem for that area.
One factor of poverty never escaped my attention. Poverty seemed to rob people of their future. They never saw the need for tomorrow. I grew up surrounded by rural poverty. A common saying among my peers was that the money was burning a hole in their pocket. I never felt that way but while not rich, I was not poor.
Many young soldiers that I interfaced with in the Army had come from poverty. Many had come from urban areas. They had never camped outside. What they all had in common was the lack of planning for tomorrow and the underlying burning desire to change that, to learn a new way. They had that spark, something deep down inside that looked around their apartment, shack, whatever, and knew they needed a change. They may have not known how or what they needed to change, but a change was needed.
When I met those soldiers they were already on the path. They were setting goals, making plans. What I don't see around me now is that spark. I see much despiration. Many don't know if they will be here tomorrow or in another country. I see a loss of hope. I don't know what sparked inside the soldiers for them to make the leap. For them the armed forces was a way out. I know it is not for everyone. There are lots of paths. I hope something sparks in the students.
Everyone needs hope.