39% of black children and 35% of Hispanic children are currently living in poverty, while 12% of white children are living in poverty according to a report on Democracy Now. In terms of total numbers, there are 6.1 million Hispanic children living in poverty, compared with 5 million white children and 4.4 million black children.
If anyone really gives a damn about improving schools and educational outcomes (not to mention alleviating a great deal of human suffering), then ending poverty ought to be the overwhelming focus. Improving teachers, curricula and school structure may help some students do better, but it cannot end the achievement gap, bring all students up to NCLB standards, or make all children successful.
The primary cause of the achievement gap and poor educational outcomes is poverty. As long as kids come to school hungry, sick, homeless, stressed out from material insecurity, and well behind their affluent peers in academic readiness, no reform will ensure that they are reading at grade level, graduating on time or ready for college.
Of course ending poverty cannot occur by simply increasing social programs, charity or the efforts of community based volunteer organizations. Poverty cannot end without also ending wealth, which necessarily involves social conflict and, in all likelihood, violent resistance by the wealthy. But a good start might be if those who work for wages started to align themselves with each other instead of the bosses and started to recognize that their own wellbeing is intricately linked to that of other wage workers.
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