Class in the Classroom

This week I had the incredible fortune of working with the teachers and students of Richmond-Burton Community High School in Richmond, IL.  I facilitated two assemblies of my workshop, “The Wall,” and I led a student leadership training with an AMAZING group of young people.  I also had the unique opportunity to lead a professional development session for teachers based on the feedback I had gotten from students about what could be improved in the school.  The professional development was entitled, “Best Practice in Serving Diverse Student Populations.”

One of the things that I stressed in the PD is something I firmly believe about diversity in our schools: there is no social issue or form of diversity that will affect your classroom more than class.  Class, indeed, is the great, oft-unspoken divider in our society.  Though we like to think of our society as one built upon equality, the reality is that we live in a class-divided country (and world), and it has been that way since the U.S. was founded.

Take, for instance, the reality that approximately 13% of the American population is officially classified as living within 125% of poverty level, where a family of three earns approximately $17,163 per year (and those statistics come from 2008, a time in which the U.S. economy was doing much better than today). The statistics for child poverty are even more alarming.

Children Under 18 Living in Poverty, 2008

Category Number (in thousands) Percent
All children under 18 15, 451 20.7
White only, non-Hispanic 4, 850 11.9
Black 4,480 35.4
Hispanic 5,610 33.1
Asian 531 13.3

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2009, Report P60, n. 238, Table B-2, pp. 62-7. Accessed here.

Number of children living in poverty in each state.

Source of the above image

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