Professor Cynthia Hudley of UC Santa Barbara’s Gevirtz School delivered the talk “Education and Poverty: The Mutuality of Cause and Effect” to the U.S. Conference of Mayors Taskforce on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity during its March 30 meeting in Los Angeles. Mayors from across the country listened to Hudley and other experts in an attempt to build a national strategy for addressing poverty.
Dr. Hudley stressed the cyclical nature of poverty and a lack of educational opportunity. She asserted that poverty constrains stable access to quality schooling, and lack of education perpetuates poverty. Poor children attend schools with teachers who are teaching outside their subject areas with inadequate or outdated textbooks, computers and labs.
Those who do not succeed beyond high school today will be significantly more likely to experience poverty during their lifetime, according to Hudley, especially since studies show that each successively higher education level is associated with an increase in earnings. In 2003 a person without a high school diploma on average earned less than $20,000, while a person with at least a Bachelor’s Degree on average earned over $40,000.
Hudley urged the mayors to supplement the income of poor parents and thereby increase the scholastic achievement and attainment of children. Such an increase would: insure more stable housing, leading to more stable school enrollment; insure more time for parents to interact with children and school, leading to increased achievement; and, insure that children will be less likely to leave school to work. Hudley also argued for mayors to equalize resources between high poverty and low poverty environments, including incentives for more experienced teachers to teach in high poverty environments. Finally she argued for a more aggressive approach to encourage students toward higher education. She believes that K-12, 2 year and 4 year institutions, and graduate education all need to work together in a collaborative system.
“Poverty is not a partisan issue; it’s an American Tragedy,” said Task Force Chair Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, adding that in today’s world the poor are not simply the unemployed and the homeless, “poverty today means having two jobs and no insurance.”
[Professor Hudley is available for interviews; to arrange an interview, contact George Yatchisin at 805 893 5789]