The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Legislation of 2001 was signed into law to bridge the gap between what President Bush called, “the haves and have nots” (Hess and Rotherham, 2007, para. 10). The focus of the Act became the “have nots” which were minority students. Many of these children live in poverty and go to schools in impoverished areas (Wolk, 2011). Most states interpreted this Act as saying that there must be standardized tested on specific curriculum. Each year, millions of children in elementary and high school must take the tests and pass them in order to show that they have achieved the specific scores that teach state has decided upon. Unfortunately, a child who is hungry and who lives in difficult situations that can include violence in the home, malnutrition, neglect and homeless (Aldridge & Goldman, 2007) is still being left behind.
Demographics of Poverty in Education
In the early 20th Century, the number of children who were living in poverty was lower than it is today. As an example statistics from the U.S. Department of Education show that between the years 2007 and 2009 (most recent statistics) the incidence of children living in poverty rose to 19%; In 2000, this statistic was only 15% (Avd et al., 2001). In 2010, the poverty rate for children rose to 22% which meant that one in five children under the age of 18 is living in poverty in America (Censky, 2011). The poverty rate for non-Hispanic whites was the lowest in 2010 at 9.9%. Blacks had the highest rate for poverty at 27.4% and other Hispanics were at a poverty rate of 26.6%. Men and women also faired differently. For men, about 14% were below the poverty line and single fathers were at a 15.8% poverty rate. Women were at a 16.2% poverty rate, but single mothers had a 31.6% poverty rate (Censky, 2011). In today’s economy, when so many families have lost their jobs and their homes, there are many reasons why there is a rise in these statistics. In the past, it was possible that certain situations produced poverty and the families in poverty were concentrated in certain racial backgrounds. Today, any family of any racial group can find themselves in poverty. In fact, “about 46.2 million people are now considered in poverty, 2.6 million more than last year” (Censky, 2011, para. 4). According to Aldrige & Goldman (2007), every region and every type of family can find themselves in poverty. This means that family circumstances can change at any time, putting children more at risk. Defining Poverty as it Relates to Education Jensen (2009) defines poverty as “a chronic and debilitating condition that results form multiple adverse synergistic risk factors and affects the mind, body, and soul” (p. 6). Jensen (2009) also identifies six types of poverty: Situational poverty that happens because of a crisis, or loss. This type of poverty is usually temporary. The events could be “environmental, disasters, divorce, or severe heath problems” (Jensen, 2009, p. 6). Generational poverty where more than one generation is born into this situation and family members do not have the tools to move out of poverty. In other words, this is all their family has ever seen or known. Absolute poverty were the basic needs of food and shelter are not available (rare in the United States according to Jensen, 2009). Relative poverty exists when a family’s economic situation does not meet the standard of living that the rest of the society experiences. Urban poverty happens in cities of 50,000+ people