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Poverty And Education In Nc

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Poverty and Education in North Carolina

I went to an average public high school in Chester County Pennsylvania. There were schools that achieved higher scores on standardized tests than us and there were also schools that scored lower. In my experience there, I had great teachers who I feel prepared us for college or what ever path you chose to take. We had a program where you could go to a trade school for half the day for those students who wanted to take a different path besides college. The opportunities that were presented to us seemed endless. When looking at the statistics between North Carolina and Pennsylvania, the amount that NC spends on each student per year is $ 6,562, while PA spends $ 8,997. Income for teachers was also a big difference. To make $ 50,000 in North Carolina on average you have to be teaching for 30+ years. In Pennsylvania, $ 50,000 is the average that teachers make. I am sure that teachers in North Carolina are well trained and over all great teachers, but with these staggering differences, states such as Pennsylvania seem to be more inviting to teachers, thus giving states such as North Carolina a disadvantage. Nearly a third of teachers nationwide quit within their first three years due to low pay and overcrowded classrooms (greatpublicschools.org.)

The number of children in the state of North Carolina that grow up in poverty is shocking. In many Pitt County schools, over half the children are on free or reduced meal plans due to their living situations at home. In 2000, 181,682 children living in rural areas were living in poverty. About half of the children living in poverty in North Carolina are white, but the poverty rate for rural blacks, 27 percent, is more than 1.5 times greater than the rate for rural whites (Rural Data Bank). Here in Greenville, at Pactolus Elementary School and Belvoir Elementary School, 99 % of their children are at an economical disadvantage. Unfortunately, the statistics do not seem to be getting any better.

A common question that comes to mind when thinking about poverty and education in the state of North Carolina, is what makes some schools better than others? I personally have experienced public school in North Carolina through observations, and I have experienced public school in the state of Pennsylvania.

After observing a couple of schools in North Carolina, one elementary school and one high school, I was taken aback by the differences between the two. I only observed two schools in Pitt County, so maybe in other parts of North Carolina the differences may be less.

Around the nation many states are experiencing a battle for funding. In Oregon, "budget crisis led nearly 100 school districts to cut days from the 2002-2003 school year... raising the student-teacher ration from 30:1 to 42:1." (Karp, 1). Boston also was struggling when 800 teachers were laid off. In some New Jersey and Hawaii communities, students now have to pay to ride the school bus. School budgets are not only a problem in more than a third of the states in the US, but it is a crisis. The Washington Post investigated this issue and came to conclusions that, "a third of the states are moving to cut millions - in some cases billions - of dollars from public school budgets... with 85 percent of district budgets tied up in salaries and benefits, cuts fall heavily on the other 15 percent- teacher training, after-school enrichment, even bathroom cleaning contracts." (Karp, 1). Although the demands for enhanced school performance are at an unprecedented high, with belts being tightened to decrease school budgets, it seems that public schools have been put on the back burner. With the standards presented in No Child Left Behind, a "recent study projected could require a 30 percent increase in state education funding - a sum approaching $150 billion." (Karp, 1). With budget cuts that have been taken, how does the government expect schools to perform at the outrageous standards that they have set? The money that the government is taking away from schools must be going somewhere, but is the place it is going help the children achieve success in school? Probably not. There are other political forces that influence the degree of economic disparity, including neo-liberalists.

Neo-liberalism is a set of economic policies that try to force the government out of controlling business. This affects the market, it decreases wages, cuts public expenditure for social services, eliminates the concept of "the public good," and causes privatization.

Neo-liberalism affects the school system greatly. The fact that it causes a decrease in wages is a major factor. This will help the rich communities filling their schools with the best teachers. As for the poor communities that really need help, they are stuck with what ever they get. Those students who live in these poor areas do not get equal opportunities as those students who live in wealthier areas. There is a "dramatic difference in funding per student between school districts with a low concentration of poverty than those with a high concentration." (Spring, 77). Neo-liberalism pressures the poor to find solutions to their lack of health care, education, and social security by themselves. These people may need help to get on the right path and it is not giving the children of the poor opportunities to succeed. Children can not help their up bringing, so I believe that no matter where they live, they should receive an education that prepares them just as much for life after school as a school in the wealthy part of town. Fortunately there are programs out there that place good teachers in school districts are in trouble. Teach For America is one such organization. Teach For America is a National teacher recruitment program, which seeks to attract college graduates to the classroom. After an eight-hour interviewing process, they pick those who they feel are best suited to help the schools that are in need.

All children in North Carolina and everywhere in the US deserve a quality education. "The basic building blocks seem evident- quality pre-school, small classes, skilled teachers, safe and modern schools, after school programs and affordable college. But the White House and Congress are failing to provide the basics. Worse, the White House has written up a plan to slash education programs in their first budget after the election." (greatpublicschools.org , 1). For pre-kindergarten programs, the government's 2005 budget was $ 491 million short on what it takes to guarantee Head Start programs for those young children of North Carolina. Due to this funding gap, 86,710 children are not able to enter a Head Start classroom. In the future, the plan is have even more funds cut to ensure that

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