This is a picture of a brand new STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) school in Greenville, SC. I would estimate that it cost about $40 million to build. Probably more.
On the flip side, Allendale (SC), the 10th most impoverished county in the US, has had to scrape and hope to raise less than $10 million, to renovate a couple of school buildings that are decades old.
Does that seem just or equitable?
I’m not saying that students in Greenville (or any other well-resourced districts) should have their educational opportunities reduced. But something isn’t right when we have a vast difference in opportunities and finances, based only on zip codes.
A report of science academies in New Jersey reveals that this inequity is a common issue:
“STEM programs face the same problem that all schools have had: unequal resources. Students in poorer schools may have fewer advanced placement classes or lack science labs and properly trained teachers, . . .”
Or take another example that I’ve seen firsthand. In Greenville, high school athletic teams have a full-time trainer at practices (I think) and games (I know), provided by the local hospital system.
But in Allendale, the best we have (which is pretty good) is a doctor who volunteers his time on Friday nights. For context, he is the only doctor who lives and works in the entire county, and he spends his own money on first aid supplies for the team. Without him, who would be looking after the physical well-being of the football players?
We can do better than this. And work can be done from both ends — from top-down policy changes (such as these new federal guidelines), to more grassroots initiatives. You can get involved, and do justice.
I bet you are more of a grassroots person. Good. Here are two things you can do to help enrich the education of underprivileged children. Give both a thought, and pick one:
- Mentor a child (such as during school lunches)
- Volunteer at a high-quality after school program
If you have questions about getting plugged into either opportunity, please leave a comment or contact me.