Could you survive in poverty?

Published 10:36 pm Wednesday, August 11, 2004

By Staff
Do you know which churches and sections of town have the best rummage sales?
Which grocery stores' garbage bins can be accessed for thrown-away food?
How to get someone out of jail?
How to live without electricity and a phone?
Could you survive without a car? Without a checking account?
If you answered "yes," to these questions and a few more along the same lines, you could survive in poverty.
The "quiz" was one of several teaching tools used last week when Freta Parks of Palestine, Texas, worked with teachers in the Escambia County School System. Her mission was to help teachers understand the language of poverty. The presentation was based on a book by Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D., titled "A Framework for Understanding Poverty."
Our economic reality helps us to develop belief systems from which we operate, Parks said, illustrating some of the economic realities of poverty from which many school children come.
To further illustrate the point, Parks used quizzes about the middle and wealthy classes.
In the "Could you survive in middle class," quiz, participants were asked different questions.
Do you know how to get children into Little League, piano lessons, and soccer?
Do you know how to order in a nice restaurant? How to set a table properly?
Do you know how to help your children with their homework? Would you hesitate to call the school if you needed additional information?
Do you know how to use a credit card, checking account, and savings account? Do you understand an annuity? Life insurance? Disability insurance? A 20/80 medical insurance policy? House, flood and replacement insurance?
Do you understand the difference in the principal, interest and escrow portions of your house payment?
Most people reading this newspaper do. But imagine that you didn't, and you were trying to help your children function in this world. According to the 2000 Census, approximately 18.6 percent of the residents of our county live in poverty. That's why sessions like this one are important. Communicating with parents and students who speak a "different language" is critical for teachers attempting to foster student success. This workshop certainly gave them a good start.
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