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POVERTY: Financial stress takes a heavy toll

Letter by Sharon L. Hodgins, Lake Tapps on Sep. 3, 2013 at 2:08 pm | No Comments »
September 3, 2013 2:34 pm

Re: “Study finds poverty dulls brain power” (TNT, 8-30).

Who is surprised that researchers have finally proved that stress – specifically over financial troubles – dulls brain power – leading to bad choices and lack of ability to concentrate and to do well in school or on the job?

As a retired schoolteacher who has a daughter who deals with behavior-challenged kids at the high school level, I don’t know how students at any age can possibly do well in school; with little money, everyone in the family worries about shelter, food, medical care, clothing – the necessities of life.

Who is surprised that parents with stressful jobs at all income levels have little time and energy for parenting? And since parents are the “first” teachers, if a parent is uneducated, helping with schoolwork is often daunting, if not impossible.

Poverty is not an easy issue to deal with, but study after study has proven that the greatest learning in human beings takes place between birth and age 6. A huge start on reducing poverty would be to provide qualified day-care preschools with ability to pay based on monthly income and subsidized by the taxpayer when needed.

Study after study has also shown that every $1 spent saves up to $17 in future costs: special education/remedial classes, health care, jails, addictions. As lower-wage workers often hold two jobs to pay their basic bills, preschool day cares should be open 24-7. And the people working at them should be qualified to teach some basic knowledge needed for school success.

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