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A Broader and Bolder Approach Uses Education to Break the Cycle of Poverty

11/14/11

New York University sociologist Pedro Noguera writing in the November 2011 issue of Kappan Magazine, the flagship publication of Phi Delta Kappa International, blasts the stubborn notion that schools are powerless to reverse the effects that poverty has on educational success.
The prevailing political paradigm these days rejects the idea that poverty impedes student achievement despite decades of research that clearly shows how poverty impacts student learning. This narrow-minded viewpoint leaves policymakers hesitant on implementing education reforms that help combat the strain of poverty, Nogeura writes. The notion that schools are not built to be far-reaching enough to address the inequities is somewhat comforting to exasperated educators that resign themselves to not being able to solve external social problems.

Nogeura cites sociologist James Coleman in showing how supportive relationships between teachers and parents positively impact student achievement, a relationship that is almost non-existent in many high-poverty, urban schools.  Environmental and other conditions of poverty also proves a hindrance to attracting other beneficial social resources. 
 
Nogeura points to the "Broader Bolder Approach" and its championing of the community schools strategy that foster close relationships between students, their parents and teachers, the school and the community as a way to overcome some of the barriers that economic disadvantages pose.  
 
As he writes: "American policy makers and reformers must be will­ing to accept the obvious: School reform efforts can’t ignore the effects of poverty on children’s lives or on the performance of schools. What we need is a more holistic strategy, one that makes it possible for schools that serve the most disadvantaged children to meet their academic and social needs so that they can overcome a track record of failure."

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