I’ve written about poverty here a few times before.
I think the first time was when I went to Caroline and Katherine’s school library right before volunteering at a school in a high poverty area located only about fifteen minutes away from us. That school had no library because their budget did not allow for a librarian. The doors were locked. On the flip side, our library was full of books, a full time librarian and so many parent volunteers that we had to take turns volunteering with our children’s classes.
I also wrote about poverty after participating in a poverty simulation. My post about this event is long but please go read it. I know I still don’t understand what it is like to live in poverty but I know more for having participated. For one hour, I played the role of an extremely poor person. It was a truly eye opening experience.
With only these very minimal touches in to the world of poverty, I am incredibly confused. I am confused that the ‘people in charge’ don’t understand what a huge role poverty plays in all that is broken in our country.
Where is the word poverty in our discussions about Baltimore? Does being poor excuse rioting and looting? Absolutely not. But does being poor contribute a whole lot to the culture that lead to rioting and looting? Absolutely.
And how about all the energy that we are putting in to reforming our public school system? Where is the word poverty in that discussion? If children are coming to school hungry does it matter what curriculum their teachers are teaching? If children have no books at home, does it matter what standardized test they take? If parents are working three jobs and there is no one at home to read aloud to a child, will that child learn to read at the same time as my girls who have been read to since they were in the womb?
I certainly don’t know how to erase poverty in this country but I do know we need to start talking about it. What happened in Baltimore this week makes me incredibly sad. My only hope is that these events will further and create a much needed conversation.