I've had these kids in my classes and reading this article was really painful. I don't know how they make it through the day most of the time and I can certainly understand any "lack of interest" they might show about classwork. It's amazing how much press the "evil" and "useless" teachers get and the "awful" and "poorly run" schools get, but how little serious conversation the impact of students' lives outside of school on their education gets. Standards and testing and accountability and even more school funding aren't going to solve these societal issues and help guide these kids to ANY kind of future.



My dad had uncontrolled epilepsy and couldn't keep a job, so I was homeless for a while when I was seven. We lived in a trailer in the woods. It was super-fun -- I got to play with fire a lot. I remember, at age 8 or so, seeing people talk about Reagan's trickle-down economics and thinking it sounded like rich people peeing on everyone else.

Teachers who saw past our shabby clothes and weird hair cuts to our test scores were very important. But definitely part of the reason my sisters and I went to college is that my parents did the best they could for us. My mom bought us ten cent books at every yard sale. Despite stay-at-home parenting clearly not being his life goal (rock star), my dad stuck around for quite a while longer than a lot of other men under basically all the available life stressors.

Besides better assistance (my dad was denied disability benefits despite having grand mal seizures on a regular basis), a program that might help poor parents help their kids succeed is the Harlem Children's Zone Baby College program. It sounds like they teach what my parents were doing right.

posted by nathank: 1509 days ago