Numerous studieshave documented the disparities in academic success between students from high socioeconomicstatus and low socioeconomic status, in many different measures- including highschool completion rates, standardized test scores and college enrollment. A collegedegree has become virtually a necessity for upward mobility.It is also an indisputable fact that the first five years of life are crucialfor lifetime success.Yet literacy gaps for children that come from lowsocioeconomic households are often exposed to stress, poverty, obesity, malnutrition and a lack ofproper health care in their early childhood. The cumulative effect of thesedeficiencies leads to lasting impacts on learning, behavior, and health.Starting school withlearning deficits makes it likely that early disadvantages will persist aschildren progress through school, and continue into their adult lives. It is alsoan undeniable that the more well-behaved, mentallystable and ostensibly smarterchildren will be ahead of their poorer peers when they start first grade.
An issue that is a great social concern to me is whathappens before children start school. Schools cannot save children who are comefrom poor homes or with unstable mental health. The educational shortcomingsthese children often exhibit as they start age is actually a symptom of muchbigger social problems, such as poor parenting and restricted, or neglectfullyoverlooked social services. This gap is exacerbated when people ignore howimportant parenting, mental health, and early childhood are to educationalsuccess, while they might also expect teachers and the curriculum to close thegap. Ithink we must step up and work towards breaking the consensus that schools havethe power to “make or break” a child’s future.
Society, laws, parents, andother large factors need to be changed in order to solve the education gapproblem in the United States. This is one reason I am passionate about becominga social worker and where I think social services can be used effectively to provide these families with the tools to preparetheir children for school and help them begin school on an equal footing withtheir peers. These might include helping parents to learn more effective parentingskills and helping them cope with the overlapping demands of work and family. Unfortunately,many families do not use these services and addressing these problems wouldrequire great sensitivity and skill