Perspectives from the Inland Empire: How Income Impacts Student Learning Outcomes

As an aspiring educator who has worked in after school programs over the years, I have seen first hand that many students are not up to speed in terms of emotional, social, speech and other learning developments. This could be for various reasons, but it is clear to me that young students do not have enough time invested into understanding how to learn and communicate effectively.  Different variables are brought up by different educators, but I believe that it is up to parents and other caretakers play a big role in this crucial development. Unfortunately, not all parents and caretakers have the capacity to be invested the ways that are needed for their children.

Parents have to meet basic needs for their family to provide housing, water, food, transportation and other basic necessities. There is a large population of parents in the Inland Empire without college degrees. This means that they spend most of their days working at minimum wage jobs where they are living paycheck to paycheck. This poverty puts students at a disadvantage that they have little to no control over.

Students lack support in understanding their emotions and how to control them. Often, parents, teachers and other educators react to behaviors from students by yelling or being angry when students test limits. Adults are juggling a lot of other things, and it sucks that not everyone has a deep understanding of the psychology of emotions to teach students better. This is especially hard for parents who are too tired to deal with “tantrums” and other behavioral problems that their kids experience, and the lack of a caring and informed response can often result in traumatic experiences for kids.

In addition, parents who are working minimum wage jobs lack time and resources to focus on their mental health which has drastic impacts on their kid(s). Therefore, parents are often projecting stress and/or anxiety onto their kids without being aware, and students self-criticize, believing they are causing their parents to stress to eventually cause lack of self-worth/value.

Lastly, yes K-5 students typically have recess to contribute to their physical health, but the nutrition services that the San Bernardino City Unified School District contracts, only contributes further to further health problems like obesity. If students rely on school food to meet this basic need to save money at home, this can in the long run impact the quality of life and life span of students.

It is important for parents and educators to work together to address students’ emotional, social, speech and other learning developments, but also, there is a responsibility of community stakeholders, like elected officials, to address the poverty in communities and help families with resources.

What do you think?

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Rocio Aguayo

Rocio Aguayo

Rocio Aguayo is a young community oriented aspiring educator who has worked as a mentor with Inland Congregations United for Change (ICUC), a tutor with Youth Action Project at local high schools and now a youth leader with CAPS in San Bernardino, CA. She previously took pictures and wrote opinion pieces for the El Chicano Newspaper in the Inland Empire and was yearbook editor-in-chief at Arroyo Valley High School.

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