Socioeconomic Status (SES) refers to either the social standing of a group, the amount of income a family has, or both. Individuals in the low SES level category, usually live in inner cities. These persons have little chance for employment, live on welfare or by illegal means. Children of this cluster are condemned to the same fate in most cases. They are doomed because they internalize the attitudes and views of their parents, which make them at-risk for failure. The following are suggestions for each adult group of stakeholders:
Parents of low-income children need to provide their offspring with opportunities to explore and learn. One problem that low-income children have when they enter school, is the inability to think and process information on a developmentally appropriate cognitive level. Research has proven that there is a gap between the cognitive levels of children from different Socioeconomic backgrounds. Parents should also include Parent-Teacher conferences and PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) meetings in their schedule. Research has proven that parental involvement is a predictor of academic success. I am aware that parents, especially single parents, work two or more jobs. Readers should not misinterpret the emphasis on parental involvement as implying that it is more important than meeting the primary needs (e.g. food, shelter, and clothing) of children. Better parental participation will narrow the gap. Nourishment, however, is not enough.
An option that teachers should try is having high expectations for their students. Research says that most middle-class teachers do not expect students from low Socioeconomic backgrounds to perform well. They look at the way that they are dressed and how they speak; have them sit in the back of the room and tell them to put their heads down. This is the exact opposite of what needs to happen. Low SES students should be seated in the front of the room and given individual instruction, and remediation whenever possible.
One alternative that schools should try is to hold parent meetings on weekends and at times that are convenient for parents. This will allow parents who work during the week a chance to be involved without conflicting with their jobs. Schools should create parent centers. This center would be a neutral environment where parents could gather parenting strategies, from videos and brochures.
School District Administrators
School districts administrators should create “schools within a school.” This approach would give schools smaller teacher to student ratios without having to build new schools. This approach also provides other staff member’s opportunities to carry out their vision of education. Studies show that when compared to large schools, small schools have higher attendance rates and grade point averages, lower drop out rates, and increased stakeholder morale. District personnel should cut programs that are not working, and instead, reinvest the money into the school, and mandate how it should be spent. Districts should create partnerships with hospitals and clinics to create school clinics. The clinics only have to be open two or three times a week. The funds for this partnership could come from government programs that are not being utilized to their fullest potential.
Legislators should stop cutting money for Education. Each year there is a budget crunch and education suffers. How can legislators expect the school to meet the mandates of No Child Left Behind when there are no funds to fully implement the program. Mississippi has some of the worst test scores in the country, and we continue to cut educational funding. That is ridiculous!