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Volume 28, Number 4
July/August 2012

The Poverty Gap

Schools grapple with a growing population of poor children


Volunteers like this one from City Year can help keep students in schools affected by rising poverty.

David Kopperud was acting principal at a West Sacramento, Calif., elementary school when one of his first-graders stopped showing up. The child was so chronically absent that Kopperud went to see the child’s mother. What he learned has stayed with him since. She told him that she hadn’t been sending her son to school because he had no shoes. “It showed how such a simple lack could become a major barrier to education,” says Kopperud, now a state education administrator. “And, unfortunately, I think we’re going to see a lot more of this.”

A huge increase in the number of children in poverty, compounded by housing foreclosures and a rise in homelessness, is converging with continued deep cuts in school budgets to present a daunting challenge for American educators. And while there are some things teachers and schools can do, others are advocating for much more ambitious reforms that would bring back a concept popular with funding agencies in the 1990s: full-service schools.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.


For Further Information

For Further Information

Attendance Works

Broader, Bolder Approach to Education

Campaign for Educational Equity

J. B. Isaacs. The Recession’s Ongoing Impact on America’s Children: Indicators of Children’s Economic
Well-Being Through 2011
. Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 2011.

National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth

National Center for Children in Poverty