Opinion: Improving Richmond city school performance (Style Weekly)

February 5, 2013

Thad Williamson, associate professor of leadership studies, writes and teaches on city of Richmond politics, community economic development, and urban politics and sprawl. He is a member of Richmond's anti-poverty commission.


Social research for decades consistently has shown that growing up in poverty has a detrimental effect on cognitive development, social development and school performance. Schools with a high concentration of students living in poverty are unlikely to be academically successful.

This is a big problem for Richmond: Two out of every five children in the city live below the federal poverty line, and many more are in economically precarious households hovering just above it.

These facts are well known. What's less appreciated is how much we now know about how and why poverty tends to damage academic development — knowledge that yields important clues about how to break the cycle of poverty.

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