WHEN POVERTY PERMEATES THE CLASSROOM

TROUBLED SCHOOLS ON TRIAL: FIRST OF SEVEN STORIES

WHEN POVERTY PERMEATES THE CLASSROOM

Struggling to cope with past sexual abuse and a mother who works long hours at a low-wage job, Alex regularly breaks down while at school.

The screaming, crawling and crying of this 5-year-old at North Windham Elementary School – and the arrival of an ambulance when he sometimes begins to hurt himself – are disruptions that make it hard to keep other students focused.

“It’s a continued struggle to survive emotionally,” said Catina Cabán-Owen, the only social worker at her school of 466 students. “This child does not have the support, because the mother cannot provide it.”

Alex, whose name has been changed to protect his privacy, is watched by a neighbor while his mother works. His father is not around.

A student walks by one of the many boarded up houses in an impoverished neighborhood in Hartford on the way to school.

While Alex’s struggle is extreme, his basic story – a student living in poverty who needs help coping with trauma – is common. He is among many students for whom poverty creates or exacerbates obstacles to learning. Read more here.