Relation of Education to Poverty Trap

Our eldest son had a parent-teacher night last Thursday evening. I had it on my calendar. I was down in Delaware. The alarm on my smartphone reminded me that I needed to leave my appointment there in time to get to his school. The principal and his teacher warmly greeted Evelyn, myself and the other parents who crowded into Spencer's room to find out what our son was learning. I am not exactly sure of the percentage of parents who made it. But most of the children were represented by at least one parent. We were attentive. We are invested in his education.

He's not even four years old.

But contrast that experience with that of teachers in elementary schools throughout cities of this country. It's like pulling teeth to get parents to come to parent-teacher conferences.

What we fail to acknowledge is that almost every child who makes it out of the "ghetto" does it with the support and encouragement of a parent who has a vision and commitment to giving their child a life that's better than theirs. Rarely do you find children who have the internal compasses that lead them out of the ghetto without some paternal or maternal support.

Parent-teacher conferences of schools in poor urban cities are generally poorly attended. Evelyn used to teach in Benton Harbor, Michigan. And then she taught in North Philadelphia. Her last teaching post was in Camden, New Jersey. Time after time many kids would have no parents show up. And it was a wonder of wonders to get two parents of one child to show up at all.

I do realize that some parents don't have good transportation and it would be a difficult for them to tow their entire families to a school at night on city buses. But it can be done! And some parents need to make the sacrifice for their children regardless of the fact that it's not easy and go on and come out to the parent-teaching meetings anyway. We need to stop living in the moment and start seeing potential -- potential in ourselves and potential in others.


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