The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Chicago:
Low Pay Hurts Kids

Jan 21, 2013

A recent study put out by the Chicago Teachers Union and Stand Up! Chicago, a group tied to the SEIU, shows just how badly low wages and poverty affect the city’s children. One in twenty-five Chicago Public School students, meaning on average more than one in every single class, is homeless. And the problem is getting worse. Between 2008 and 2011, the child poverty rate in Chicago increased almost 20%, so that now more than one third of all children in the city live in poverty. And most of these live in households with at least one working parent, but that parent’s wages are so low that they still fall into poverty.

According to this study, family income is the most significant predictor of academic success. Low wage workers can’t afford books, school supplies, health care, quality food, after school care, a stable place to live, or to take off work to deal with their children’s issues. Poor kids struggle with more emotional and health problems and have a harder time focusing on school work.

Of course, the city needs to put money and resources into poverty-stricken schools to help deal with the issues caused by poverty that children bring to school.

The heart of the problem, though, is that the corporations have pushed wages down so low that hundreds of thousands of Chicago workers can’t afford what their kids need.

Handing over education dollars to charter schools does nothing to address these issues and in fact just makes the problem worse. It simply diverts more tax money to corporate subsidies and to lining the pockets of charter school operators.