Educational Opportunity?

Today, Samreen Hooda posted the article “Is Education a Privilege for the Elite?” to The Huffington Post. In her article Hooda criticizes the cliché notion of America as the land of opportunity. As far as education is concerned, America is the land of opportunity only for those who can afford it. The article takes a look a Quentin, a seventh grade student who reads at a first grade level. Quentin writes:

My name is Quemtin and you can make the school gooder by geting people that will do the jod that is pay for get a                            football tame for the kinds mybe a baksball tamoe get a other jamtacher for the school get a lot of tacher.

The school that Quentin attends is poverty stricken and little is being done to assure that its students are proficient. Nearly “three-quarters of the nation’s schools reported not being in good condition” and are located “in cities where at least 70 percent of students are below the poverty line”. Poverty is the number one barrier to success in schools, since children of poor families are more likely to drop out. Because school budgets are tied to property taxes, schools in poor neighborhoods are put at a huge disadvantage. There is an undeniable connection between environment and educational success. Hooda argues that if the United States can “figure out how to maintain its education standards and do something about students struggling with poverty” change can occur. Our nation must improve struggling school systems and maintain their progress.

I had a very emotional reaction to reading this article. In my own educational experience, I have had no contact with these “poor” school systems. I attended schools in affluent areas and have observed in similar settings. To me, reading about poverty stricken schools seems like some kind of myth. But these schools are reality for a large number of kids in America. We often hear the statistics about poverty in our schools and under-funding, but it doesn’t really mean anything. To me it’s just numbers and facts; statistics dehumanize the situation. When presented with Quentin’s story however, I immediately became invested in the problem. The bottom line for me here is that kids shouldn’t be statistics; they are people. Reading Quentin’s words made me see the problem in a whole new light.

The article argues that these schools need more funding to be able to raise academics for these students. Many people assume that increased school funding would be spent on creating better facilities and on new technologies. I think it is interesting to note that it isn’t lap tops or a new basketball court that Quentin asks for. The thing that Quentin thinks would improve the schools is teachers. I would agree with Quentin; the number one thing struggling schools need is good teachers.

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