When we talk about educational inequality in our country and the poor conditions of public schools in low income areas, we tend to focus on middle schools and high schools, and their inability to reach “troubled” youth.
This is definitely an important aspect of the problem, but the issues start much, much earlier.
One of the most important and most ignored aspects of educational inequality is the disparity in resources available for early childhood education.
In middle class or upper class families, a child is often given all kinds of educational toys and games to help the mind grow, develop, and prepare for formal schooling. Parents are also typically active in teaching the child basic lessons and skills through play.
But for low income children, this experience is very different. For one, many of them live with single parents who are working 80+ hours a week just to keep the lights on and put food on the table.
These parents don’t have money for all of the educational toys, games and camps that more well-off parents provide to their kids. Also, their demanding work schedules tend to leave them with very little time to spend with their child (and it is often only for a short period of time after an exhausting day of labor).
Although it can’t totally make up for the economic differences, pre-school was designed to help bridge that gap a bit. Unfortunately, less than half of pre-school aged children are actually even attending pre-school.
Check out the infographic below to see how this lack of quality early childhood education affects a child’s future: