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english-sba sample

Plan of Investigation
The topic for my English SBA is ‘Poverty.’ I plan on investigating how
poverty can affect one’s education. I became interested in this topic after
noticing how a lack of education due to poverty affected members of my
neighborhood. In order to successfully complete this investigation, I
ensure to do the following tasks:
Select three pieces of material that correspond with this topic
Meet with group to discuss materials and share information
Plan and present an oral presentation
Meet with teacher (and group) for individual participation
interview and group activity
To prove this issue more, I will ensure to browse the Internet for
newspaper articles, short stories and poems. From this, I expect to
develop my understanding of the writers’ techniques and language. Also
to improve my knowledge of how poverty can affect one’s education.
Piece 1- Newspaper
Is it useful to talk about poverty in a nation in which poverty levels have declined
so dramatically in the last decade? Although Trinidad and Tobago currently reports
relatively low poverty rates (17 per cent) and a GINI index measuring income
inequality of 0.40, poverty and schooling are so intimately woven that they will
remain key issues in the education reform agenda for some time yet.
When we speak of poverty and its possible influence on educational attainment, it
is not just the economics of poverty that concerns us. A better term, which captures
multiple education related elements of economic and social disadvantage, is social
capital or cultural capital. These include the range of knowledge, experiences, and
connections that enables someone to succeed in school.
Why are there schools with many disadvantaged students? These schools might be
created by what we call, "the education market." An education market exists in a
school system where families are able to freely choose the schools their children
attend (even with some restrictions). Unmanaged, education markets often result in
differentiated school systems, with clients segregated into different schools. In
such a situation, students with economic and social disadvantage can become
concentrated in some schools.
We call schools with large numbers of disadvantaged students, "Schools Facing
Challenging Circumstances" (SFCC). These schools might have tremendous
difficulty ensuring student learning by simply using traditional methods.Where are
these schools found in T&T? They are located both in urban and rural areas
because both urban and rural poverty exists. Why do these schools fail? The
answer is complex and no one factor is involved. Improving schools in such a
situation requires sustained evidenced-based targeted support, focus on student
learning, and high expectations. Is it inevitable that these schools fail? Since
improvement is possible, the answer is, no. Is it really worth the effort to help
schools in challenging circumstances? It is, because if these schools fail to add
value to students' lives, social mobility and equity are inhibited.
The concept of adding value simply means that a school is able to enhance the
learning experiences of the child using clearly set benchmarks. In practical terms,
adding value also means that students are exposed to print-rich environments and
life experiences not accessible in their immediate communities and homes. It also
means that learning environments are structured to help students to develop basic
literacy and numeracy skills that allow them to function effectively outside the
school environment and prepare them for the Information Age. Adding value does
not mean throwing up arms in frustration or blaming families and communities for
low achievement.
At the School of Education, our collaborative research in the area has produced
some interesting findings on the relationship between individual and collective
indices of poverty and educational attainment. In one study, we analysed Eleven
Plus placement data from 1995 to 2005 across communities in the Diego Martin
Administrative District. The communities were first ranked using the Basic Needs
Index, published in the poverty study of April 2007 by Kairi Consultants. We
found that children from well-to-do communities had more than a 50 per cent
chance of receiving their first choice. In poorer communities, this fell to 10 to 30
per cent.
Such unequal outcomes are also reflected in data from the National Assessments of
Educational Achievement in Standards 1 to 3. The data suggest that schools where
many students are classified as disadvantaged have low performance as measured
by the distribution of students in the different achievement levels reported. Schools
with high numbers of students classed as "economically disadvantaged" often
reported more than 75 per cent of the students at Standard 1 and 3 performing at
Level 1 (Well Below Standards) in Mathematics and Language Arts.
What is the solution? How do we ensure that all students have equal opportunity to
learn? The first step in improving schools and the system is greater awareness of
the problem; the second step is collecting additional data to identify the nature of
the inequality; and the third step is the evidence-based application of accountability
and compensatory systems, which will ensure that each child, even the poorest, has
an opportunity to learn.
The relationship between poverty and education attainment is neither linear nor
inevitable. From our ethnographic study of these schools, a simple solution is to
promote high collective efficacy among staff. Collective efficacy includes the
beliefs, attitudes, and expectations that drive teachers to help students of all
backgrounds and circumstances, believing that they can help them and that the
children will learn. These beliefs may be linked to the efforts teachers make in
difficult circumstances.
(Schooling and Poverty from Trinidad Express: Mar 3, 2009)
Piece 2- Poem
Alack, What Poverty My Muse Brings Forth - Poem by William
Alack, what poverty my Muse brings forth,
That having such a scope to show her pride,
The argument all bare is of more worth
Than when it hath my added praise beside.
O, blame me not if I no more can write!
Look in your glass, and there appears a face
That overgoes my blunt invention quite,
Dulling my lines, and doing me disgrace.
Were it not sinful then striving to mend,
To mar the subject that before was well?
For to no other pass my verses tend
Than of your graces and your gifts to tell;
And more, much more than in my verse can sit,
Your own glass shows you when you look in it.
Piece 3- Online News Blogs
It’s hard to argue that poverty does not affect education. It’s hard to argue that
children who come from homes where they may be wanting—wanting for
food, for time, or for resources—don’t enter the school door with a little less
than others. And it’s hard to argue that children living in poverty and attending
schools that are underfunded, underresourced, and understaffed are not
literally up against the system.
We have established a system where those who are poor are more likely to
stay poor, and lately we have seen a sharp increase in those considered poor.
In fact, a recent research bulletin from the Southern Education Foundation
highlights that, as of this year, the majority of public school children come from
poverty. According to the bulletin,
The latest data collected from the states by the National Center for Education
Statistics (NCES), show that 51 percent of the students across the nation’s
public schools were low income in 2013.
In 40 of the 50 states, low income students comprised no less than 40% of all
public schoolchildren. In 21 states, children eligible for free or reduced-price
lunches were a majority of the students in 2013.
51 percent of our children across the country now live in poverty, and the
numbers appear to be growing.
51 percent. Coincidentally, it has also been 51 years since we, as a nation,
declared poverty unacceptable. It has been 51 years since President Lyndon
B. Johnson launched the War on Poverty in his 1964 State of the Union
This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on
poverty in America. I urge this Congress and all Americans to join with me in
that effort.
It will not be a short or easy struggle, no single weapon or strategy will suffice,
but we shall not rest until that war is won. The richest Nation on earth can
afford to win it. We cannot afford to lose it. One thousand dollars invested in
salvaging an unemployable youth today can return $40,000 or more in his
During this address, Johnson also acknowledged that “many Americans live
on the outskirts of hope—some because of their poverty, and some because
of their color, and all too many because of both.” Poverty, Johnson said, was
a “national problem,” one that required a collective response across all levels
of government and society. His address singled out every American to do his
Fifty-one years later, however, we have established systems that perpetuate
and even accentuate poverty. Schools in low socioeconomic areas are
underfunded when compared to higher socioeconomic neighborhoods. They
tackle chronic issues with a chronic lack of resources. While those who work
in these schools may be passionate, hard-working, and motivated educators,
they frequently lack experience, support services, and political power.
Thus, the message becomes clear—if you are born into poverty, you are likely
to stay in poverty.
As a country, we have deep-rooted negative stereotypes about people living
in poverty, despite the fact that people who live in poverty are as diverse in
their norms, beliefs, and behaviors as people who live in any other
socioeconomic stratum. Poverty spans geographical and ethnic boundaries,
from urban cities to rural towns. There are many communities that have
battled poverty for decades and many where poverty has arrived recently,
unexpectedly, and in a rush.
Poverty is neither fair nor equitable, and it is not productive for society. If we
ignore, as Charles Blow called it, the “corrosive effects of poverty“ on our
nation’s children, it will come back to haunt us. And as Steve Suitts, author of
the Southern Education Foundation research bulletin, said, “It’s a matter of
our national future, because when one group becomes the majority of our
students, they define what that future is going to be in education more than
any other group.”
So what do we do? Rather than just get angry, we must get active.
We can and should commit to addressing poverty via intersectoral alignment,
change the formula by which we fund our schools, and ensure that inequities
are at the heart of all policy discussions. Funding education via property taxes
aligned to varying algorithms of local, state, and federal streams results in
fundamental inequities. Such systems reward those who require the least
rewarding and instruct those living in the poorest areas that the only way out
is to relocate, which undermines the notion that education is the great
If we dive deeper into these broad systemic changes, we see that there are a
number of specific intermediate actions that we can all demand our
policymakers undertake in order to directly and profoundly influence the
education, well-being, and living conditions of children in poverty today.
(Poverty Affects Education -http://www.huffingtonpost.com/seanslade/poverty-affects-education_b_7861778.html)