The assigned reading for this week was titled Urban School Reform, Family Support, and Student Achievement, written by Kiersten Greene and Jean Anyon. The overarching theme in the reading is how school reforms, as they are gone about now, are not doing enough to help battle the growing economic obstacles that are preventing students and families in low-income urban schools from their highest achievement. It’s not so much worried about how poverty is the leading cause for lower academic achievement in these areas, but rather how living in poverty affects people’s lives in ways that make academic success unfeasible. Greene and Anyon explain that, while poverty itself doesn’t cause low academic achievement, it does create despair and frustration that hinders one’s effort, enthusiasm, and expectations for the school year. Their main point of the article is to bring attention to the fact that the “money doesn’t matter” ideas on educational reform don’t take into account the ways that low income affects students abilities to perform well in school.
The way that they go about making their argument compelling, is by using past-collected data on certain areas in the U.S., and how the low income in these areas are affecting the students. They mix this data with historical laws and government help programs that give money to low income areas in order to show that the achievement gap shrinks. It doesn’t completely go away, but the data and programs that they reference throughout the piece suggests that, if we were to put more programs like the New Hope program in place, academic achievement in those areas would strengthen. You can tell from the analysis used, as well as the importance put on government assistance programs, that the political views of Greene and Anyon probably lean more towards a democratic viewpoint–opting for more government intervention (something that republicans very rarely are in favor of).
For my current connection this week, I chose to use an article titled Racist ‘Redlining’ Policies Leave Legacies of Stroke for Black Americans. The Lexis database didn’t give me a name for the author; however, it seems to have come from the FICCI. I connected this article to the idea of redlining that our class reading described as a very influential piece of the poverty-puzzle in urban areas. The article describes different instances of how redlining still shows its face in our modern day lives by pointing out “Little Russia” in Portland, Oregon, which leads the reader to think about all other cities that have areas named things like, “Little Italy,” or “China Town.” These areas didn’t come about expressly from groups of people with the same backgrounds choosing to live together (although surely some of them may have), but rather were forced upon these people by denying housing loans to certain demographics when it came to the rush to the suburbs. It describes how life in these areas, that people got trapped in, is riddled with problems that suburban and rural areas never really have to deal with. The author explains that, in a lot of these redlined areas, there is what’s known as a “food desert.” A food desert is a location that doesn’t have easy access to grocery stores, or any way to get healthy food for that matter. This in and of itself, having fast-food chains on every corner instead of grocery stores with healthy food in them, plays a large role into the high cases of strokes in redlined areas of Columbus, Ohio. Along with the food deserts, though, there’s also lack of state funding to the areas because of low taxes. The cities around a lot of these places often don’t pay as much attention to these areas as they should. As a result, a lot of these areas are riddled with major pollution (like smog), as well as having an underfunded educational system. When you look at the high rates of smoking, mixed with areas being considered food desserts and underfunded education, it’s not hard to see why the way of life in these areas lead to heart disease. If there was more money going into the school system, then they could have better health programs to teach the students ho to eat healthy and live healthy. This in turn could lead to the push to have real grocery stores instead of just having liquor stores, gas stations, and fast-food joints in the areas. It could also lead to a lower rate of smoking–if it’s taught to students just how bad smoking is for you. Unfortunately, since redlining played a huge role in creating these areas, the cities already have a history of overlooking the true problems that these areas are facing. One can only hope that change comes along soon, and these places get the funding, and attention, that is needed from the local government.