Research confirms the widely held notion that the prevalence of poverty, poor health, low educational attainment, and high unemployment plague low resourced urban communities.
Poverty begets poor health, and both are linked, or can be attributed to, being under-educated. Educational success is possible when children’s basic needs are met.
The dropout crisis costs our society an estimated $1.8 billion every year (Levin & Rouse, 2012). Dropout recovery and prevention are worthwhile investments that pay dividends when successful. Young people growing up in economically disadvantaged urban communities where the local public schools are poorly performing need alternative educational opportunities in order to have a chance at future success.
The link between food insecurity and school failure at a neighborhood level is well documented. Addressing both the educational and nutritional (basic needs) of young people growing up in economically challenged environments requires new thinking. The best chances of producing successful students come when schools offer a safe and respectful climate, dynamic and interesting courses, engaged teachers and staff, innovative programs and relevant extracurricular activities.
All of these things help create a learning community focused on positive outcomes for students and productive involvement of the larger community. Project-based learning rather than high stakes testing will produce well-prepared high school graduates who are poised to pursue college, career or service.