UNH Speakers Bureau

Combating Poverty and Social Class Inequality in New England Schools

 

Program Description:

Education is one of the best pathways to ensuring opportunity and overcoming poverty in America. Yet breakthrough new research reveals that schools have become increasingly resegregated by social class and race. Schools in poor or racial minority areas tend to have far fewer resources, outdated facilities, less qualified teachers, lower performance rates, higher drop out percentages, and fewer graduates who pursue higher education (Kozol, 2005; Orfield, 2007). Despite this data, the poor grow poorer, while the wealthy are even farther removed from experiences of the struggling poor. Some residents of largely homogenous New Hampshire tend to be less knowledgeable about issues of racial resegregation, because racial difference is rarely seen and cries of racial inequality are not heard. Additionally some view social class struggles as a problem of remote northern NH or of particular dilapidated cities in the south. This presentation will combat these shortsighted views by foregrounding the pervasive lack of educational opportunity for local poor. It will initiate conversation to better prepare us to live in increasingly stratified areas. It will also alert citizens to the punitive effects of tax-funded laws, like No Child Left Behind, which are closing down failing schools in poor areas, further abandoning poor children. Finally, it will point toward collective ways in which these problems can be overcome and will highlight relevant coursework as a starting point for concerned students.