Baseline: The Link Between Education and Poverty


When: 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 14th
Where: The Ewen Room (Upstairs Campus Center)

Bevins Elementary School in Pike County, KY

Event Introduction:

With hurdles ranging from the physical landscape to fluctuations in population and industry, access to affordable, high-quality education has been a longstanding battle throughout Eastern Kentucky and Appalachia. In recent years, with the steep decline in coal and related dips in population totals, the issue has become further exacerbated as the tax base that supports schools has dropped to the point that many schools, which serve as community centers, have been forced to close as a result.

Though some initiatives such as the huge investment in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, the installation of Alice Lloyd College, and the development of Berea College have worked to lessen the gap in higher education for students from Eastern Kentucky, the issue of primary and secondary education to prepare students for those colleges remains.

The general link between education and poverty is fairly clear: Access to high-performing schools with the resources, funding, and teachers to match is one of the most certain ways to guarantee children the chance to break out of cyclical or intergenerational poverty, and provide a base of support for all children in the area. You can almost track future income by a child’s grade-level performance, and with the chance of college or technical school or military admission hinging so heavily on ACT and other standardized test scores, the connection is clear.

In Eastern Kentucky, the narrative surrounding poverty and education is complex and rooted in a fluctuating culture and economy that presents unique challenges and opportunities for students, parents, teachers, and communities. To combat these challenges, the national organization, Teach for America which places teachers in two-year placements all over the country, including 35 members in the Appalachian area who have been working in the area since 2011.

At Centre College, members of the Teach for America Appalcorp will be leading the discussion on the link between poverty and education for students on campus. Participants will have a chance to engage with questions and ideas regarding one of the largest challenge in poverty alleviation while also having a chance to see what work is being done to face those issues head-on.

The work that Teach for America does extends far beyond the two-year classroom work that teachers perform: The emphasis for Corp members is on a reworking of educational policy that provides equitable access, working to lessen the race, gender, ethnicity, and income gap for students, and using corp members own passions that encompass a range of disciplines to develop programs outside of schools to help student succeed and pursues their own passions. Teach for America is a long-standing, Americorp recognized program that has thousands of former members as part of a massive alumni network that work in fields from education to beyond. In places like Appalachia, Teach for America is one group that is making the difference when it comes to student success and who are working to change the narrative of poverty.


teach for america


From the Teach for America Website:

Teach for America has been partnering with students and families, educators, and community and business leaders for five years to help more kids have access to an excellent education and the life opportunities that come with it. We recruit and develop talented and passionate people who bring their unique life experiences into the classroom to broaden students’ perspectives—and their own. Our corps members and alumni are making progress toward high academic expectations and students’ personal development, and work in partnership with school and community leaders to reach a collective vision: that we deliver on the promise of an excellent public education that will give them the chance to lead a life of their choosing.


We are dedicated to shaping the future of Appalachia beyond coal mining–our mission is to engage and develop a broad network of lifelong education advocates and ensure our students have the skills and knowledge to lead the greatest economic turnaround our country has seen. After all, it was a little more than 50 years ago when President Johnson declared a War on Poverty from the front porch of a home in Inez, Kentucky—one of the many communities we partner with to bring about systemic change in the mountains. Despite that rallying cry, people living in the region still face many challenges.


They also have many opportunities.


Our corps members, alumni, and staff in Appalachia work alongside fellow educators across the region who are willing to ask, “What will it take to give every student a 21st century education?” and then take the steps to make this happen. We are partnering with those already engaged in challenging educational inequity, complementing their efforts and becoming a force of advocates, leading from inside and outside of the classroom, who are willing to jump in and get to work immediately for kids.


Seating is limited, so Sign Up to attend!

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