Poverty Essay: Descriptive Essay

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The Effects of Neighborhood Poverty levels on the Operation of Schools in the Public School System.


It is no secret that the quality of the education system is greatly determined in part by the poverty levels of the neighborhood. Poverty is no vice since no one chooses to be born poor, but it does result in the development and propagation of numerous vices in the society such as drug abuse, prostitution and crime. The frequency of occurrence of such vices in the society has been proven to have a direct correlation to the poverty level in the society in question.

This, in turn, results in the passing of these vices to children and young adults that join the public school system. They end up being introduced to these vices and within no time the entire school system is. We cannot argue that the school is the buildings that stand on the compound for the real school is the children that attend this school. If the children attending the school are beyond repair, then the entire system is in itself corrupted. This directly hampers the quality of education being passed down to the children. This is a factor that affects the overall operation of the schools in the public school system. In middle and upper class neighborhoods, the operation of the schools is less affected since there is a favorable environment that fosters learning and successful operation of the school. This study seeks to highlight the effects, if any, that poverty levels of neighborhoods have on the operation of schools that are in the public school system.Key words: public school, poverty, operation, impacts.

1.0 The Location and Environment
Schools are learning centers. It is paramount that the schools in which eager to learn children receive knowledge be situated in an environment that is both favorable for and supports learning (Von, 2003). Having a school in the right environment is to do almost half the work insofar as imparting knowledge is. It is general knowledge that impoverished societies correspond to impoverished environments. In these impoverished societies, vandalism and neglect are vices that seem to have their roots family in the ground. An environment that depicts a large degree of irresponsibility, vandalism, and neglect goes a long way in affecting the education that the child receives (Von, 2003). Running the public schools in an impoverished environment is an uphill task due to the simple reason that students put into practice what they see every day. In a world where absconding responsibility and promoting vandalism are praised, convincing the student not to replicate the same in school is almost impossible.

This results in students vandalizing and destroying school property such as desks, lockers, and chairs in repeated fashion. The school then incurs very high yet unnecessary expenses in repairing these items. This greatly affects the running of the school since money that would have probably been set aside for use in promoting extra-curriculum activities ends up getting channeled into a wrong course, a factor that impacts negatively on the school in question.

Von asserts that the setting of a school is also vital in shaping the character of an individual such as a student (2003). A neighborhood that depicts a high level of poverty will most probably have a higher number of illegal businesses in the vicinity, as well. These affect the/running of the public school because it is these same negative businesses that will eventually encroach onto the school property. Take for instance a case of selling drugs, commonly referred to as “pushing” although the primary target of the “pushers” is drug abusing adult, this does not prevent them in any way in having young children into this vice. To them it is a strategy of growing their market base. It is a factor that not only ruins the young lives involved, but also disrupts the operation of the school as now more time is spent trying to prevent children from engaging in drug abuse, time that would have otherwise been spent carrying out some other useful school activities.

2.0 The Facilities- Sports, Educational and Developmental
In the system of education, we emphasize ‘the incorporation of extra-curriculum activities to encourage learning that is not educational, as well (Kozol, 2012). Activities such as sports help students recognize develop and possibly even earn a living from their talents. Through knitting such positive into the educational fabric, we help to raise the bar in terms of education. The Federal Government ensures the equitable distribution of resources in terms of setting up the necessary facilities. Nonetheless, the much harder task of maintaining such facilities would sometimes require the parents, teachers and alumni to go the extra mile in order to raise the necessary funds to support such programs and initiatives. The tales of alumni funding particular clubs or sports are countless and serve as a testament of this fact.

A strong alumni base is essential in fostering the development of other useful programs in the school setting (Kozol, 2012). For schools to, comfortably, operate and run such programs and initiatives they will need plenty of help from anywhere they can find. Kozol confirms that in neighborhoods that exhibit a high level of poverty this is an even harder task (2012). First and foremost, the presence of a good number of alumni willing to spare some money to develop a particular program is low in schools in poor neighborhoods as compared to schools in affluent neighborhoods, a fact that makes this harder to achieve. This, in turn, makes it even harder for the facilities to be maintained, should they initially be set up by the Government. The absence of funds or funds that are not enough to set up or maintain such facilities greatly impacts the operation of the public school system. Although all schools should incorporate such facilities and roll out initiatives supporting extra-curriculum activities, at times in impoverished societies it is just not possible.

Due to the high level of poverty that such neighborhoods experience, the parents of the students are left with no choice but to watch helpless children to be denied what they should rightfully enjoy. The fact the parents are themselves unable to spare money for such positive projects leaves the school at a disadvantage; this is a strikingly sharp contrast to neighborhoods that experience some degree of affluence (Lamb, 2011). In such neighborhoods, parents are more likely and more willing to contribute their own money to facilitate projects that will help their children grow in other aspects of life. Such schools have an easier time to going about their operations as compared to other public institutions where the little money they have is to its limit to support as much as possible.

3.0 Drop-outs
A recent survey came to the conclusion that the majority of adults who receive their GED came from neighborhoods that experienced a high level of poverty (Lamb, 2011). The same survey found out that the majority of individuals that dropped out of high schools came from societies deeply intertwined with poverty Though very saddening, these statistics paint a very stark reality; that many of the school dropout come from impoverished neighborhoods. Dropping out of school is something that has steadily been gaining popularity among young students. This is probably due to the lack of hope for a successful and viable future for students coming from neighborhoods with high levels of poverty. The other side of the coin in dropping out of school is the fact that this is not only on a particular school but also the educational system as a whole.

Lamb states that dropping out of students affects the schools (2011). This is because the conversion rate of students into high-school-diploma-holders falls drastically. This lags the school behind and makes it even harder for schools to give clear and complete educational records of individuals. This also affects the school in terms of extra-curriculum activities in the event that those who drop out are good in particular activities. All these factors result in an operational dilemma for schools whereby they are not able to realize their main goal; to educate. The operation of the schools in these neighborhoods is even harder by the fact the number of students dropping out of school continuous to rise. These factors make it harder for schools to conduct their business. In middle and upper class neighborhoods the number of drop-outs is significantly lower than that of impoverished neighborhoods resulting in a high conversion rate for schools in these neighborhoods.

The schools in these neighborhoods also exhibit a much higher ability to operate their business and realize their goals they put in place as a learning institution.Poverty leads many students from poor neighborhoods into dropping out of school with the promise for a pride future filled affluence. This promise is by crime and selling of drugs. Such societal stereotypes that exist in neighborhoods with high poverty level also impact negatively in the operation of public schools. This is for the simple reason they prevent the school from conducting its primary objective; to educate.

4.0 Negative Education
The school is an institution that prides itself in passing down knowledge and positive traits that are for the benefit of the entire society. In the teaching of these traits, it is equally necessary that we follow up on the teaching with positive action that encourages the permanent adoption of these positive traits. However, in the event that no clear follow up is, negative learning occurs. Negative education is that which is counterproductive to what one is doing and learning in school. If the school is in a neighborhood with high poverty levels, negative learning is to occur in some aspects. For example, at school the child is that drugs are bad and harmful to the body. They are that they should not sell drugs. However, when they go home they are on money earned through the sale of the hard drugs; either one of the many available today.

In this case, the learning they receive from the society is counter-productive.

This is especially persistent with vices in which the students in school witness every day in the society, such as drug and substance abuse. They might be taught the correct thing in school, but the cues that they pick up from the society around them are counter productive resulting in zero work done. Through this process of negative learning, the society further affects the operation of the school. For instance, campaigns against alcohol abuse and random sexual escapades would be easily thwarted by the activities in their society. This is costly and wastes a lot of time for the school as plenty of time is used to efficiently pass one message.

It is not debatable then that the poverty level in the neighborhood can affect the operation of the schools. This also applies to schools in middle and upper classes neighborhoods as they too can be affected by the society. Though they may not be driven to vices like theft and robbery, vices such as drug and substance abuse, rape and prostitution in a neighborhood can affect both the wealth and the poor. It is a duty, therefore, to support the enlightenment for students living in a poverty-ridden environment in so far as negative education is. By being able to address this issue, we will hopefully have solved a major problem in society.

5.0 Slow and poor community development
On top of being an educational facility, a student is also a role model in society and an agent of positive change. The student of any school is to involve themselves ion the society to come up with a better ways of doing things in society. In schools that are up in improvised neighborhood instilling a sense of responsibility and social awareness is not only length but also demanding. For a student to reap the full benefits, they must be committed to achieving excellence in that they do. In the society with poor neighborhoods, the sense of social responsibility is almost nil amongst students (Tunnell, 2006). This results in a society that is not looked after and which only worsens the scenario the school finds itself in. Through inculcating such feelings into students in school, we are able to gather for the needs of the students while also improving the society in which they live.

In an impoverished society, however, this sense of responsibility towards the society is an environment is lagging. Particularly in public schools, the operation of the school in promoting community development and improvement is slow as it is by the neighborhood of the school. This is because the school is in an environment that is unclean and unsafe. Contrary to this, in the middle and upper class neighborhoods, community development is a key factor on the operation of the school, a factor that enables the development of a holistic approach to education by the students. Sampson asserts that, particularly in private institutions, such concepts are much more intertwined with the school operation that it seems natural to have such programs to the students (2012). In most cases, the uncooperative nature of those living in the neighborhood of the school locks out non-students as well as other volunteers from making a worthwhile contribution to society. It is a duty to ensure we positively affect the society we live and foster community working and development. In this way, we are able to support the full operation of the school in supporting community development in poor societies in which the school lies.

6.0 Stigmatization
Stigmatization of public schools in poor neighborhoods is a challenge that has contributed greatly to the poor operation of the public schools in these neighborhoods. Once discriminated against, the schools become lax in their activities, a feat that renders a vast majority of the schools in impoverished neighborhoods dysfunctional.

    It is a fact that neighborhoods with high levels of poverty are a big hindrance to the provision of quality education (Tunnell, 2006). The poverty levels affect quite a variety of educational aspects that all contribute to the poor performance of the schools in these neighborhoods as a whole. However, there are some exceptions. In some neighborhoods that are experiencing extremely high levels of poverty, there could be some schools that do very well in all aspects of the educational curriculum. It is correct that no person is perfect, and no institution is perfect as well. Some have taken the lemons that life has handed them and made sweet lemonade out of them. Some schools in these poor neighborhoods could excel in sports or academics or some other extra-curriculum activity, but the stereotypes that such neighborhoods are results in these institutions and individuals being on the losing end of the bargain.

The sad reality that some institutions are discriminated against on the basis of where they are is being not only unfair but also discriminatory. A common stereotype is that all youth who live in impoverished neighborhoods are either thieves or are part of a criminal gang (Tunnell, 2006). This is a common misconception that is not correct at all. In these poor neighborhoods, there are schools that are and that offer excellent opportunities for their students. This results in the stigmatization of these neighborhoods and their facilities; among them the schools. By basing oneself on these stereotypes, one locks out a large number of individuals or institutions that really deserve this kind of technical or financial help. The institutions that are in this vicinity are out of opportunities such as donor funding and sponsorships for needy students that would boost their development kitty greatly.

Sampson argues that this stigmatization affects the running of the schools in these neighborhoods a great deal (2012). The public schools in these neighborhoods are against in terms of support (both technical and financial), perception, as well as educational opportunities. This poses a big challenge to these schools that are also competing with other school in better neighborhoods and which receive more support than they do. It makes it difficult for schools to fully operate in the intended manner since these schools are at the tail end of the list. In order to ensure that all schools are equal treatment, this misconception must be eliminated from the realms of reasoning of individuals in society.

7.0 Funding
It is said that when it rains it bores poverty comes along with myriads of other challenges that will also impact the school in the neighborhood. The prevalence of the poverty can be directly linked to the reduced or low level of education and poor health care. This alongside low development of the vicinity only compounds to the problems that a state faces. According to Andersen and Taylor, the absence of other necessities of life such as healthcare and reduced infrastructure results in the availability of low amount of funds to schools (2008). A school that needs a particular amount of money to conduct its operations annually might end up receiving a third or two thirds of the amount required as the remaining funds are redirected to other projects. Money makes the world go round, and schools are not exceptions to this rule.

For a school to be fully operational and conduct all the intended activities successfully, it must have access to the necessary funds (Kozol, 2012). If the funds are not enough, then the school fails to realize all its intended goals, thereby leaving others at a disadvantage. Neighborhoods that have high levels of poverty also experience other problems that call for equal attention. This means that the available funds will have to be divided to address all pressing matters; a fact that disadvantages many beneficial programs and initiatives in schools in impoverished neighborhoods.

On the other hand, public schools in a neighborhood that do not experience poverty have the opportunity to be allocated the funds that they need to realize all their goals. Schools in these settings hence operate more smoothly as they are able to roll out all their initiatives comfortably as well as successfully. This schools are also able to access donor funds more easily since they already have projects upon which the donor can invest their money, unlike schools that have no or inactive projects that will require more money to set up and run. Through proper positioning to ensure that the school receives as much funding as it possibly can from all possible quarters; the school guarantees that achieving its intended goal of educating as well as fostering all rounded development of a child as been made a bit easier than it would have been in the absence of these funds. Talent means to be recognized and develop and funding eases operations of public schools in neighborhoods that exist in high poverty neighborhoods.

8.0 Crime
Crime is a reality that one cannot just wish away. While there are some individuals in society who work hard to get what they want in life, there are others who have specialized in the less tiring job of taking what does not belong to them. While crime is not only limited to the impoverished societies, it is fact that it thrives most in these environments. Impoverished neighborhoods serve as the elixir to crime and its propagation into subsequent generations. This is mainly because in these neighborhoods, poverty forces individuals into doing what they never thought themselves as capable of before. Duncan et al. asserts that poverty serves as a causative agent to most to most of the vices that one encounters daily in society (1997). In the societies, whole these vices are in exchange for money. In neighborhoods or societies at large that experience extreme levels of poverty thrives since it is the sort of breadwinner in many families. Although most crimes are by gangs, most of which are local, those are in charge of neighborhood. It is a fact that a majority of the gang members are idle and desperate youth. A school that is up in the heart of a neighborhood, in which crime is rampant, unfortunately suffers.

The school operations suffer a high blow as they are victims of theft and vandalism. In time, the stolen item will be replaced but this results in unplanned costs that the school incurs, further hampering that activity. Secondly, since crime affects those in the vicinity, the students are the main recruits for criminal gangs in the neighborhood (McCord et. al. 2001). Usually starting out with one member in the school, this member recruits other members, mostly friends, until a criminal gang is established. Needless to say, this recruitment goes hand in hand with students dropping out of school. This conversion of school going students into dangerous gang members is detrimental to the functioning of the school. The school continues to lose students through recruitment into gangs or adoption into a world of prostitution. This changes the school from being a learning institution into a fully fledged breeding ground for criminals, prostitutes and vagabonds.The rise in levels of crime and insecurity affects the operations of public schools as the schools depreciate through the loss of students. Recruiting new students proves hard as well since some of the school-going children are into the criminal world. An unsafe environment is a no place for a child, and especially a learning one. Such an environment will only instill violence and criminal tendencies in most of the students. Through being able to curb crime and insecurity, incidences this way, we can keep the children in school and in an environment that will allow them to learn comfortably without physical or psychological disturbances.

9.0 Overall Character Development
People are not judged by where they hail from, but, at times, one can take a man out of the country but one cannot take the country out of the man. There are instances in which how we react, and the reason is by where we come. Character is a quintessential aspect of one’s personality. It is character that determines how one behaves and their attitude towards life. A good character is ultimately the main ingredient for success.

Take, for example, youth who come from an impoverished society and others that come from affluent society. The ones from the impoverished society will turn out probably having a terrible temper. This can subject them to fits of rage. The school invests a lot of time in shaping character, especially that of youth. This is because the character is a pivotal aspect in achieving success. Being used to living an impoverished life in the ghetto or projects could result in the development of a carefree attitude. This is especially so when the society in question is of the exact character. Since almost all good benefits come from good personality and character, developing a child’s character into a good one will help motivate the students into working hard. This character also impacts on the teaching staff. If the students are hardworking and of sound character then the teachers are to working harder (Bowles, Durlauf, Hoff, 2011). This would be a useful tool in moving a school forward, but in the event that character is weak and poor, it would be contagious, and the teachers might also suffer from the same fate they might end up losing the drive that made them teachers in the first place.

These are factors that impact lives daily. Determining the character one would term strong or weak could be the deciding factor in determining how well or how poorly the school operates. With a staff and student body that is of good character, operations of the schools will be ten times easier.

The poverty level does have a say, and a large one, at how the school operates and the level of development that can be undertaken by the school and students. It is responsible for the smooth operation of schools in neighborhoods with different people.

10.0 Instilling Fear
It is fact, not fiction that we are only human, and we all have fears. Most of the time what we do is by fear. It, therefore, directs or lives as it determines where we can go, what we can do and if we can do whatever it takes to achieve and realize goals. Schools and teachers are not immune to fear and they too, just like everyone else, have their own fears. For the school, it might be the fear that property will be stolen or the school might burn down while for the teachers they may range from fear of non-performance to fear of rejection from students. In neighborhoods that are poor, crime and insecurity seem to be two ventures that grow day by day. This state of high crime rates and flashes that expose the insecurity contribute hugely insofar as instilling fear in minds and hearts is. This is because the individuals who attend the school are residents of the vicinity and the teachers are mostly unaware of what they do after school ends. Teachers in particular could possess a fear of the unknown that would then prevent them from milking out the maximum potential from their students (Cancian, Danziger, 2009). This is for the essential fact that, in order for a student to realize their maximum potential whether in academics or in sports, they will require to push themselves to the limit. This proves a mammoth task for many students who are inherently lazy and pushing them may mean on has to cross some lines. The fact that the teachers are unaware of the possibilities that could erupt from them crossing these lines, they then prefer not to cross them at all. Some teachers are afraid to make enemies of the students in a neighborhood that they feel scares them.

In the same vein, the operations of the schools’ management could be influenced by the neighborhood, as well. This could be due to the fact that some of the individuals in the school’s management could be afraid of making calls that might not appeal to the ‘influential’ leaders of the community rather than making the calls they know are beneficial to the system. Such fear then results in individuals opting for the easier decision that will keep them safe instead of tough decisions that might place them in danger. The operation of the school is, not by choice but out of fear. The school leaders are by the circumstances the school finds itself in rather than what it ought to do for the benefit of the students. This is a great challenge that faces both sides of the divide the only difference being that, in the affluent neighborhoods, particular individuals that contribute generously to the operation of the school in aspects of sports et al are the ones in the driver’s seat. The school leadership is to act in the manner that will please such individuals, rather than act in the best interests of the school.

11.0 Parent-Student-Teacher Relation
In any school, the operation of the school is easier through the existence of a genuine and participatory relationship among the teachers (the school), students and parents. Once all these forces are operating in synergy, it is easier for the school to realize its potential in all aspects. A good relationship of this nature guarantees a favorable working environment for all the parties involved. Teachers will teach better, students will learn better and parents will be happy. The greatest benefactors of this relationship are the students who receive plenty of support, encouragement as well as criticisms from the other two parties, a factor that impacts on the development of talents be they academic or extra- curriculum. In a vast majority of the impoverished neighborhoods, this relationship seems to be at its weakest. A large number of parents are inherently unaware of as well as disinterested in the plight of their children’s lives. The challenges that many parents continue to face in their daily living are enough burdens to the parents. At times thinking about their children’s’ attendance in school and their participation in class are the last things on their minds.

The absence of parental support and encouragement results in the teachers playing both roles of parent/guardian and educator. This does not go down well with most students for the simple reason that the students feel the teachers are encroaching on their personal space. The second weak link of this chain is the students. In a society that exalts and supports crime and perpetration of other vices, the advice of loving parents and committed teachers falls on deaf ears. Students, especially teenagers, believe they are adults and so are old enough to make decisions for themselves (Lang, 2011). This results in a series of bad decisions, one after the other, made by the students. With their priorities totally misplaced, working hard to receive a good education is the last thing on the minds of these students. The end result is a group of disoriented teenagers who are unsure of anything that they want in life. One can take a donkey to the river, but one cannot force it to drink. With most students behaving akin to donkeys, it proves difficult helping them achieve their goals and desires. This greatly affects school operations for the reason that the students themselves are the central players in the school.

The third weak link is the teachers. Living in a community of helplessness, discouragement and persistent pessimism also takes its toll on even the most committed of educators. The pessimisms and negativity of the students’ view of life at times affects the morale of the teachers, as well as causing them practically to give up on ever improving. Once this factor has come into play, the teachers lose the fighting and determined spirit that they had. Consequently, their overall performance drops. This dampening of their spirit impacts the school operations since they are central in the operation of the school. They educate in class as well as in extra-curriculum activities and hence a dampened team of educators means a school that is not fully operational. Basing oneself on Lang, this affects not only impoverished societies but also affluent ones (2011). On the other side, an indifferent attitude exhibited by a small fraction of teachers, parents as well as well as students results in a dysfunctional school system. A system where nothing operates the way it should operate and when it should operate.

12.0 Conclusion
This study shows that there is indeed a relation between the poverty levels in a community and operation of public schools in that area. In areas that have neighborhoods experiencing extreme poverty, the ability of the schools to function fully and operate in its intended mandate is considerably by the poverty levels of the community. This is for the simple reason that these schools rarely receive any financial aid from the parents. This waters down the overall quality of education in the public education system due to the fact that some areas receive very high quality education while others are to receive very low quality education.

In order to ensure that the quality of education offered is at par all through the country, we need to eliminate this correlation between poverty levels and operation of public schools. McCord et al. states that a system that favors the haves and discriminates against the have-nots, further divides the country in terms of inequality (2001). Areas experiencing high levels of poverty should receive high levels of support especially financial to ensure that the students born and educated in this region are just as fortunate as those born and raised in affluent neighborhoods. By fostering a wholesome and equitable system of education, through adequate funding, we will be able, gradually, to eliminate the correlation between poverty levels and school operation. Every school must be able to operate fully as well as provide quality education to all its students in the system.

According to Cancian and Danziger, we need to analyze the public education system and its relation to the existing poverty levels (2009). To guarantee that all students in the public education system will receive a high quality of education we need to come up with a method of standardization that will create an equal platform for all students, their neighborhoods financial status, notwithstanding. This standardization will pit into effect the implementation of an unwritten equality rule. All schools will be held t be the same their physical location not withstanding. They will all command equal treatment and funding from all organs in the community, as well. To ensure there are smooth operations of schools in all the necessary aspects of educational learning, a proper system that guarantees equality and fair treatment of all schools in the public education system is necessary. We need to ensure that the financial status of a neighborhood surrounding a school no longer has a say in how the schools affairs are, run and managed. It is only through this that we can overcome the quagmire posing a threat to the operation of schools in the public school system.


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