It’s our moral responsibility to pull students out of poverty


It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men…
– Frederick Douglas

I recently had a conversation with a colleague about the endgame. She knew exactly what I was speaking of. What happens and where do the “Have Nots” go, hopefully after they graduate high school?

Realistically, do they head off to traditional or non-traditional post-high school learning experience? Head right into a job? Or head right back to their neighborhoods?


Realistic chances are not something these kids get. So, what do these kids do if they even make it out of high school? We need to become as fixated on ensuring there are vocational opportunities for these students as we are obsessed on them being in school for morning attendance and their test scores.

But sadly enough, it all comes full-circle to the reality of the “Haves” and “Have Nots.”

Nearly one in five American children are officially poor. That’s roughly 15 million kids. But the number living with a significant deprivation–insufficient food, seriously overcrowded housing or a lack of access to medical care due to cost–is actually much higher. Why do we tolerate this when we know the outcomes?


If we know that students from low-income families will not have the same opportunities at success, then why do we choose not to alter the playing field to ensure that they do? Why do we just sit and watch? Why do we accept that some of the brightest minds will never get a chance at making the world a better place only because they themselves live in some of the darkest places?

America has long been resistant to adequate and meaningful poverty policies. There is a powerful strain of thinking that the poor are responsible for their own situations, no matter their suffering. But child poverty is too harmful, punishing and perpetually cyclical to ignore.

I have spoken with teachers who say that their greatest hope for many of these kids is that they graduate with “social and civility skills.” And these are from teachers who have given every ounce of their being to these kids.


It’s very easy to say that an education prepares students for careers. Well, what happens when all students are not given the same access to opportunity? Do we just hand them their high school diploma, have them walk off stage and head straight back to the blighted areas they were able to escape from for at least 35 hours a week?

Where is the greater sense of responsibility? The term it takes a village to raise a kid applies to their life, just not their time in the classroom. Where is the rest of the village? Just because some are born into poverty doesn’t mean they have to stay there.

Why aren’t we making every public school equivalent to our best public school?” (Besides the technical answer that the school’s local tax base determines the school’s resources…) Why aren’t we improving the communities surrounding the public schools we are improving?


Children raised in poverty experience lack; they may be malnourished or insufficiently nourished, housing insecure or overcrowded, face safety issues and family turbulence on a chronic basis. These factors affect brain development and the ability to thrive academically and developmentally.

– South Florida based Mental Health Counselor Lori Moldovan RMHCI.

There are actually people who believe all children have equal or equivalent access to opportunities and resources our best modern schools have, no matter their financial situation. Guess what? No, no, and no!

Those three “no’s” should be enough for us to recognize the moral tragedy and educational collateral that is child poverty.

This column is by Ritchie Lucas, Founder of The Student Success Project and Think Factory Consulting. He can be reached at 305-788-4105 or email at and on Facebook and You Tube as The Student Success Project. Lori Moldovan RMHCI can be reached at 786-747-2855. She works with adults, couples, teens and children with a wide-range of mental health issues.

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  1. The idea behind charter schools and vouchers was to be able to allow parents to use their tax money to send their children to high achieving schools. I’ve seen that concept work well. The problem like Mr Lucas points out is, how to help the kids when they finish school. The military actually has a program that if you were living in an area that has sub par education, they would double the GI bill. I was a recipient of that program and believe it worked well for those of us that took advantage of it.


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