Generational Poverty Caused by Neoliberalism has a Negative Impact on Education in the United States Generational poverty is defined as a systematic institution in which two or more generations have been born in or have lived in poverty. The ideas of neoliberalism has only perpetuated the economic system in such a way that it creates indirect barriers to an improvement in quality of life. Its commonness is obvious, not only in its unequalled influence on the global economy, but also in its restructuring of aspects of social life.
The characteristics of poverty include not having adequate shelter, needed resources, a limited supply of food, and a safe environment. Unfortunately, poverty is often an invisible problem. The refusal of our society to deal with this preventable problem and how politicians who rule the country pretend that poverty is simply a given human existence, a force of nature unstoppable and eternal is a prevailing idea.
The characteristics of poverty inherently are intended by the market of neoliberalism thought to keep individuals in a powerless state of mind where individuals are are negatively affected financially, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically. The neoliberal economic, political and cultural agenda has created this system of poverty and its negative impact on education. The educational gap between the rich and the poor existed in the early systems of public education. In the early years of the U. S. nly the wealthy and not those living in poverty were prohibited to attend school. Societal and cultural thought that were heavily influenced and created by wealthy American figure were afforded an education and were capable of taking the full capacity of what education had to offer. Only the very wealthy could attend prestigious schools. Those living in the economic divide in at the turn of the 18th and 19th century were shackled by the wealthy and were forced to work for mere survival and did not have the time or energy to attend a formal school.
This was particularly true of women, Native Americans and African Americans. The rich launched research during this time and concluded that women and African Americans especially, did not have the mental capacity to receive formal education. By creating this frame of thought, it supported the underlying agenda to keep the rich rich and the poor even poorer. Also, during this divisional political reign in U. S. history, most women and African Americans could not acquire wealth and if they did, it was twice as difficult.
By the end of the 19th century, especially in the Jim Crow South the disparities in education were far more evident than any other region in the U. S.. With the concept of sharecropping and the beginning of Industrialization, Horace Mann, the founder of common education attempted to create a system that would afford all Americans an opportunity to be educated in a realm of society in which they could be successful. His system was created to be the equalizer between the rich and those of poverty.
In contrast, it perpetuated a system that would continue to create a system of generational poverty. With the two wars in the early 20th century, the gap began to close because the nation was now experiencing a period of boom with the Roaring twenties and the emergence of all girl schools and colleges and the prominence and the founding of historical black colleges. Many had begun to equate education with success. The neoliberals then felt threatened with the idea that all people could gain wealth and here is where there was a significant shift in education and the impact of poverty.
Although segregation had ended and students from all walks of life, even those in poverty, could attend school with the wealthy. Today, when children of generational poverty enter the public schools in the U. S. enter the schools with limited knowledge of formal language (standard language used in work and school). These students are frequently asked to write and communicate when many are accustomed to using non verbal communications. Prior to the Head Start and Pre-K programs along with daycare assistance programs, many children of poverty did not receive any formal education until they entered elementary school.
What often goes unnoticed is that these programs often segregate students of the 21st century in that the parents of children of this program must be living in poverty and continues to push the agenda of the neoliberals. The employees of the programs, until recently, did not have to be highly qualified in early childhood education. To some, some of these programs had become “glorified babysitters” for those living in poverty. While the students of the middle class and wealthy U. S. could afford more upscale facilities like Montessori schools and privatized daycare.
According to a Stanford University study, when students of poverty have thirty percent fewer words than affluent students by the time they enter school. By the time students enter the early years of elementary school when students begin testing, the “labels” and deficiencies begin to manifest themselves. Children of poverty tend to test significantly lower on standardized test because of the language barriers. Children who are a result of generational poverty, are more likely to be identified with a learning disability which creates a sense of “I am not good enough”.
Students who score high on standardized test and do well in school are often identified as gifted. Most of these students are products of the wealthy and middle class homes. The disparity is often the lack of parental support in the early years. Often children of generational poverty come from a single parent home where the parent is sometimes working when the child arrives home with little help with homework and practice of skills. Some live with an extended family member who may not have the educational capacity to help because they too were potentially a product of generational poverty.
Children of poverty are more likely to be retained a grade which in turn destroys confidence and makes them socially awkward. When children of generational poverty arrive in middle school and high school, the children now have a clearer understanding of their home situation and begin to see the uniques differences from the world they live in and those of their peers. The students begin to see the trends that they are often in the classrooms that are segregated based on socioeconomic status or race which often is correlated with intellectual ability.
However, many of the affluent students have shifted to charter schools and private schools in a hope to not being influenced by the “negative” behaviors of children of poverty. However, there must be some understanding that students of generational poverty are not taught the language of social cues of middle class America. Students of poverty are often seen as being inappropriate by “middle class” teachers. The behaviors of yelling, reacting quickly, fighting/defense mechanisms are survival techniques. Hence, children of poverty are more likely to reprimanded for their behaviors.
In a household of poverty, discipline is seen as punishment and not avenues for change. As a result, the cultural shift is that these students are put on a behavioral plan which practically gives them permission to act out in the classroom. The students begin to buy into the system that they can escape discipline. The value for education is typically not apparent. By this time, middle school students who live in poverty are typically not recommended to take the “honors” courses created by neoliberals to further divide public education.
Early high school years is where the “curse” of generational poverty manifests itself. The devaluing of education at home and among peers has increased. If there is a student of poverty who does do well in spite of their living situation, they run the risk of being ridiculed by family members and peers for “thinking they are better”. The neoliberal structures have practically convinced people of poverty that you have everything they need with public housing, food stamps, medicaid, and other government assisted programs. The intent again is like the poor slaves.
As long as the master believed he was giving you everything you needed, he could control you and your living situation. People or generational poverty are in many ways like the slaves that didn’t want to run when they had the freedom. Why run, when we have “all” we need right here”. Students of poverty in high school begin to see other avenues for a quick reward. They typically reside in neighborhoods with high crime in which people appear that they are doing well. The lack of role models for children of generational poverty forces them to model what they see which is typically a life of crime that results in incarceration.
There are more children living in poverty than the middle class. Hence, the government and individuals are investing more money in prisons than in schools. Children of poverty are more likely to drop out of school than middle class students. Even those students who perform well in class who live in poverty are often deflated by the inability to do well on standardized test such as the SAT and ACT. This is a way to often keep children of poverty away from prestigious universities that almost is a reflection of the way they looked over a hundred years ago.
The female students of poverty are more likely to have a child out of wedlock before they leave high school and are likely to drop out before they graduate or even have a second child within a year. With limited education and resources, the cycle often begins again. For those who did find the intrinsic motivation to escape the poverty, some do not return because it is a harsh reminder of where they could have been and the profound number who could not escape the limitations on life and education created by neoliberals.
Neoliberalism as related to education is a social process of nurturing capacities for practice. Education itself cannot be commodified; but access to education can be. Even with such reforms as “No Child Left Behind”, “Race to the Top” and Common Core, there are still limited resources and the educational gap is continuing to increase. Markets require a rationing of education, and the creation of hierarchies and mechanisms of competition.
Therefore, the redefinition of schools and universities as firms, and the striking revival of competitive testing, as well as the expansion of public funding of private schools. Teachers are placed under performance pressure to increase students achievement that tend to narrow the curriculum in schools, and make the parts of workforce more insecure. Even the knowledge base of education is impacted, with economics of professional knowledge and a growth of cultural fakery around education. Bases for changes exist, but have not yet found institutional articulation.