There is no question that children should be given the best care and education possible. Not only are they young, innocent, and undeserving of mistreatment, but they are also the ones to whom we will pass the world to next. Unfortunately, many children are afflicted by income inequality: living in impoverished neighborhoods, going to underfunded schools, and living with food insecurity.
The hope of every generation is to leave the world a bit better to create a better life for future descendents, and while that is a huge task to undertake, it is possible. Every small, positive change made by the current generation will go on to affect the next one, so it’s important to choose our actions wisely. Overcoming incoming inequality to give children better living conditions is one step to ensuring children can have a better life and future.
Grand Challenges for Social Work
Social work is one of the major fields that encompasses most of the issues affecting today’s children. From child abuse to poverty, social work covers a lot of the ground necessary to improve conditions for children.
The University of Nevada, Reno came up with a list of challenges that are common in social work, called “grand challenges.” On the list are large-scale factors that affect the wellbeing of kids all over the world; the 12 grand challenges as listed by the university include:
- Healthy youth development
- Closing the health gap
- Stopping family violence
- Advancement of long and productive lives
- Eradicating social isolation
- Ending homelessness
- Creating social responses to a changing environment
- Harnessing technology for social good
- Promoting smart decarceration
- Reducing extreme economic inequality
- Building financial capability for all
- Achieving equal opportunity and justice
The obvious problem is that all 12 of the factors have the power to influence children’s lives in different ways, and each problem has a myriad of different solutions.
Political Obstacles In Schools
In addition to the grand challenges that affect children around the globe, there are political factors that can negatively influence child education. One example of this is nationally standardized system in schools. Standardized tests were made to help regulate and hold teachers accountable, but they can also limit what teachers can do in the classroom and can potentially limit children’s learning.
Similarly, the nationally implemented program in the United States, No Child Left Behind, was designed to make sure all children were able to learn classroom material. However, many teachers report that this program has also hindered high-achieving students from moving forward in their studies and keeps them tethered to students at a lower level.
Additionally, in underfunded schools, the first programs cut are often art programs, which are deemed “unnecessary.” This is because they don’t involve essential skills like math or reading, but cutting creative programs is detrimental to students’ learning. Many art programs — including painting, ceramics, orchestra, band, theatre, and more — have been found to be “central to learning.”
Political aspects in schools can get even more personal when it comes to food insecurity. In schools across the country, there are rules that make children throw away their food if they do not have enough money to pay for it, even though they have already been served. This is not only an embarrassing and potentially traumatic experience, but it is also shamefully wasteful and unproductive.
While such underfunded schools need the attention of our politicians the most, they are often overlooked. Recently, the United States Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos admitted that she hasn’t “intentionally” visited underperforming schools in her home state. This shows the blatant lack of interest for the wellbeing of children and their education in the United States.
Overcoming Global Issues
There is no one solution to educational and political problems like these. These issues are the responsibility of all citizens and will take the help of just about every one of them to overcome. As stated earlier, the problems that cause income inequality are each complicated to dissect and solve. Though this issue needs to be attacked from multiple angles, there are three general steps that can help: awareness, education, and taking action.
Every person can help with awareness and education. To help spread awareness, it is essential to talk about these important issues, ask tough questions, and not let talk of them dwindle out. Of course, this needs to be paired with education, as misinformation about such sensitive subjects can cause more damage than staying quiet. With education also comes a better understanding of the issues, their causes, and can help sprout real solutions.
Taking action involves voting for politicians who support ideas that align with your moral compass — after educating yourself about them, of course — and can even take form in creating your own business if you find that you are passionate about it.
Social entrepreneurs are people who create their own business in order to make a positive change in society; they can inspire change through participation, fighting adversity, and taking direct action. According to business experts, social entrepreneurs can help to “pinpoint individual concerns, become directly involved in a process to ameliorate injustice, and turn both issues into business opportunities.”
Everything that can be done to stop the inequality that exists in the education system must be done. Children don’t deserve politicized problems in their classes, and they shouldn’t be distracted from their studies by hunger. They should be focused on learning, on their passions, and how they can make the world a better place.
Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.