This window to the past started us on a journey to gain permission for use. In the process, we put faces with names, built friendships, and saw how our own stories tied into those of the faithful men and women who went before us. Many people inside and outside the Institute had tried to gently help and then confront Bill Gothard, but he rejected them and treated them harshly.
Presenting a new strategy based in the emerging science of success. Adversity Inthe United States reached an educational milestone.
Back then fewer than a third of students met the definition. Passing the 50 percent mark may be a symbolic distinction, but as symbols go it is an important one. It means that the challenge of teaching low-income children can no longer be considered a side issue in American education.
Helping poor kids succeed is now, by definition, the central mission of American public schools and, by extension, a central responsibility of the American public. View Slideshow It is a responsibility we are failing to meet.
According to statistics from the U. The gap between poor and wealthier fourth-grade students narrowed during those two decades, but only by a tiny amount. Meanwhile, the difference between the SAT scores of wealthy and poor high school seniors has actually increased over the past 30 years, from a point gap on an point scale in the s to a point gap today.
The disparity in college-attainment rates between affluent and low-income students has also risen sharply. And these days, unless children from poor families get a college degree, their economic mobility is severely restricted: View Slideshow These disparities are growing despite the fact that over the past two decades, closing the test-score gaps between affluent and poor children has been a central aim of national education policy, as embodied in President George W.
These government efforts have been supported and supplemented by a constellation of nonprofit groups, often backed by philanthropists with deep pockets and an abiding commitment to addressing educational inequality. Along the way, certainly, those efforts have produced individual successes — schools and programs that make a genuine difference for some low-income students — but they have led to little or no improvement in the performance of low-income children as a whole.
The ongoing national discussion over how to close those gaps, and whether they even can be closed at all, has not been confined to policy makers and philanthropists. Educators across the country are intimately familiar with the struggles of children experiencing adversity, as are social workers, mentors, pediatricians, and parents.
If you work with kids who are growing up in poverty or other adverse circumstances, you know that they can be difficult for teachers and other professionals to reach, hard to motivate, hard to calm down, hard to connect with.
Many educators have been able to overcome these barriers with some of their students, at least. Those of us who seek to overcome these educational disparities face many obstacles — some financial, some political, and some bureaucratic.
But the first obstacle, I would argue, is conceptual: What is it about growing up in poverty that leads to so many troubling outcomes? Or to put the question another way: What is it that growing up in affluence provides to children that growing up in poverty does not?
These are the questions that I have been trying to answer in my reporting for more than a decade. My second book, How Children Succeedconsidered the challenges of disadvantaged children through a different lens: These qualities, which are also sometimes called character strengths, have in recent years become a source of intensifying interest and growing optimism among those who study child development.
Many people, myself included, now believe that they are critical tools for improving outcomes for low-income children.
Part of the evidence supporting this belief comes from neuroscience and pediatrics, where recent research shows that harsh or unstable environments can create biological changes in the growing brains and bodies of infants and children.
Those changes impair the development of an important set of mental capacities that help children regulate their thoughts and feelings, and that impairment makes it difficult later on for them to process information and manage emotions in ways that allow them to succeed at school.
That neurobiological research is complemented by long-term psychological studies showing that children who exhibit certain noncognitive capacities including self-control and conscientiousness are more likely to experience a variety of improved outcomes in adulthood. The most thorough of these studieswhich has tracked for decades 1, children born in Dunedin, New Zealand, in the early s, showed that children with strong noncognitive capacities go on to complete more years of education and experience better health.
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