A recent News-Gazette editorial addressed the disparities in academic achievement between Asian and white students and their black counterparts.
The editorial stated, “With respect to causation, this is, at least, a poverty problem.”
It is important to note that the Unit 4 community provides the school district with 10,157 students, 5,570 of which are eligible for free/reduced lunch. This means that over half the Champaign public-school enrollment lives in federally defined poverty.
Research has shown that the many problems of children of low-income families include hunger, asthma, learning disabilities, the absence of biological parents, high unemployment, home foreclosure and neighborhood crime and violence.
Is it any wonder that the children of these families often have failing test scores?
I propose the following steps to enforce the idea that every member of the community has a responsibility to its children.
1. Request that the Chamber of Commerce support a $15-per-hour minimum wage immediately. Hungry children should not have to wait.
2. Organize a march on Walmart demanding they pay their workers the minimum $15 per hour immediately.
3. Request that the Champaign City Council pass an ordinance imposing a 1 percent city income tax on all wage earners working in Champaign and living outside the city, with the revenue going to Unit 4 district to help fund a year-round early-childhood education program starting at age 3 for all kids living in poverty.
Educating all our children is the responsibility of the entire community.