These are the words that Sonya Romero-Smith says to her students every day when they enter her classroom. Coincidentally, they are the words that almost any teacher in Title I schools say to their students everyday. Most of Title I schools are 100% lunch free.The teachers that work in those schools are constantly checking on the well-being of their students because they have the same background as those mentioned in the article: “This is What Poverty looks Like” written by Dawn Meehan.
These children are not “in poverty” because their parents lost their jobs or because the family is going through a divorce, they are poor because that’s all they have ever known in their lives. This is known as Generational Poverty which is very different from temporary hardship. Generational Poverty refers to families that live in complete poverty from one generation to the other. Families that do not know there is another life in this world because it’s not accessible to them. These students are not having a “hard time” they are poor beyond comprehension. And families that live in this kind of environment, do not see education as a way out, they see it as an impediment, as something they will never reach, a place they do not belong, a place they are not part of which makes it more difficult for them to even like school and for the teacher to educate them.
The poverty that these kids face is the one that impacts every aspect of their lives not just for a few months or even a year, but for their entire life and it continues with their children. So saying that it’s kind of challenging to deal with them is an understatement. Teachers have to educate them, prepare them for a standardized test and also help them to meet their basic needs at school because they are nonexistent at home. Sometimes we don’t even know if the child has a room of its own or if they sleep in the living room where other adults are watching TV until late at night and the kids cannot get up early in the morning, do homework and pay attention because they are exhausted.
It’s important that we know and share what’s going on in these schools because they are no where close to what everyone expects them to be; including the Legislators. They don’t work with these kids every day, they don’t have to face the reality of life that’s going on in our schools, if they did, they would know that the rigor they are asking from them in standardized tests is almost impossible to reach.
But teachers keep working hard and making a difference in the lives of these children because they know that they might be the only person in this world that believes in them and influences them positively, hoping they will get where they need to be one day. That’s why teachers continue with their work regardless of the lack of respect they get from the public, administrators and their districts, because it’s possible that occasionally, those challenges they face everyday might become success stories. Enjoy the reading and come back to share your comments.