There is no easy way to discuss educating students at risk; it is a multifold issue that affects the most vulnerable children in the country today. However, only by openly talking about the concerns that face educators who teach at-risk students every day can the country move forward and provide for these students. Here are five of the main concerns that must be debated with regard to educating students who are at risk.
In America, one of the greatest concerns for teachers who educate at-risk students is poverty. The National Center for Children in Poverty currently states that over 40 percent of all children in the country live in low-income families, with over 20 percent of all children living in poverty. These children have a greater chance of dropping out of high school because they don't have enough food or get enough sleep, are often stressed out over their family's finances, and don't see a path forward to a college education.
Teachers who educate at-risk students are also concerned about a student's family life. Students who live in a single parent household, who deal with poverty or domestic abuse, or who may be neglected at home often fare badly in school; behavioral problems and slipping grades may be a sign that things are changing at home. Teachers and administrators are searching for ways to combat this, but because education is just one portion of these young people's lives, it is hard to measure how much of an impact a good education can have on an at-risk student when their family life is stressful.
Education has fast been changing with the development of technology, which can both help and hinder a teacher's ability to effectively teach students in their classroom. While technology can be a great asset when discovering new concepts and solutions, it can be difficult for schools who teach at-risk students to get access to the necessary equipment to use technology on a day-to-day basis. Struggling schools often fund-raise for new laptops and computer labs, which can be successful, but inner-city schools rarely get enough funding for the technology needed in order to keep their students up to speed with these new forms of education.
Bullying is another concern for teachers who educate at-risk students, and when paired with technology, it can have devastating effects. Cyberbullying, or the act of harassing and taunting young victims through social media, has become common over the past five years and has directly led to suicides in public schools. For at-risk students, who already have stressors in their lives, bullying can be magnified. Without clear laws put into place to keep people accountable, it is feared that this problem will continue to hurt students who have no avenue towards justice against their bullies.
Funding remains the main concern for schools who are educating at-risk students. With major budget cuts aimed at public school programs looming on the horizon, schools that have a large portion of at-risk students are facing staff cuts, fewer resources in terms of class supplies and technology, and reduced amounts of services aimed at helping students reach their full potential. While funding wouldn't solve all of these schools' problems, more money would help them pursue services and a proper education that would see more at-risk students go to college and earn a degree.
The subject of how to effectively educate at-risk students is sensitive and must include a dialogue on socioeconomic status, public school funding, and free support services for students. It is a difficult topic to discuss for many educators because it is thought that more could be done to help these students. By addressing these main concerns of educating students at risk, solutions can be introduced and debated in an open forum to help vulnerable students achieve their highest potential.