I recently had the privilege to speak to educators and business people at the North Carolina Conference on Education hosted by the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce. A fantastic event with an amazing group of education and business professionals at the same table that “get it.” They were having the right conversations about how to improve the quality of education, support the good work of teachers, partner on workforce development initiatives, and work together to grow a generation of graduates capable of achieving great things regardless of the economic despair faced by a growing number of their youth. There was a genuine acknowledgement of the inequities facing a growing number of the 1.5 million school-aged children in North Carolina. Inequity in the quality of school facilities. Inequity in classroom resources for teachers and students. Inequity in terms of relevant opportunities for every child.
Every day I read new research that lays out the likely plight of children who live in poverty. In almost every research paper or article I read it talks about the significant research base and evidence pointing to the inequities created by poverty and the likely result in terms of life outcomes. No doubt, at this very moment, there is another piece of research about to emerge correlating child poverty to negative life outcomes. Dissertations, books, journal articles, textbooks all saying the same thing again and again and again. – children growing up in poverty have a steep hill to climb.
Over the last number of years I have had the opportunity to visit with lots of districts in a lot of states. I also have had the opportunity to visit with many business leaders across the country. What I have learned is that there is common ground hidden within the confines of these conversation. We all understand that our children are our future. We all understand we want what is best and what is right for our kids. The question is how do we get there.
The question I have today is this, as a nation at what point do we draw a line in the sand? Our children and families in poverty need to be seen as something other than subjects of an on-going study. The research is clear, but as a nation our path forward on how to best put the research into practice is not.