By Robert Mann
The child in Rebecca Radding’s kindergarten class at a New Orleans charter school was struggling. Her student understood Spanish, but little English. As the boy’s behavior problems worsened, Radding knew her lessons and his new environment “didn’t make sense to him.”
Sometimes, he would dissolve into tantrums. One, in particular, was a blessing. “I saw in his mouth that he had a rotten molar,” recalled Radding, a relatively new teacher who moved to New Orleans from California a few years ago. “You could see through it to his gum.” Radding, who now teaches 3rd grade in a public school, understood one reason her student was struggling. “I cannot fathom that kind of pain,” she said
But she also knew the child’s parents were poor. So, working with the school’s nurse, she helped find him dental care. “When he got his fillings, he became a much happier child.” And, not surprisingly, he also started learning.
That, in a microcosm, is one of the most serious, but neglected problems in our nation’s educational system. It’s the impact of poverty and neglect, and the evidence, as discussed in this space last week, is conclusive: there’s an appalling achievement gap between poor students and more affluent students.
- Louisiana is ignoring the poverty that limits children’s success in school (bobmannblog.com)
- Are Teachers to Blame for Achievement Gap Between Black and White Students? (dianeravitch.net)
- Attacking teachers, robbing students in NC (newsobserver.com)
- New report: “family income appears more determinative of educational success than race” (bobmannblog.com)