It’s Expensive to be Poor

My wife’s brother died recently.  He was a mediocre student and didn’t see much point to the traditional education he was receiving.  He didn’t graduate from high school.

Many Gifted People Don’t Have an Easy Life

As I look back over his life, I realize he was most certainly gifted.  He had been a carpenter; he was skilled with his hands and could solve difficult physical problems such as building complex buildings. He made a point of hiring people from difficult circumstances to teach them a trade.  He’d buy their tools, pick them up, bring them home, give them money, and teach them everything he knew.

About 15 years ago, he gave up his work to tend for his ailing parents.  He said, “They helped me through difficult times, now it’s my turn to help them.”  He tended to them both for about 5 years. He found out he had esophageal cancer which he put off treating until both parents had died.  The cancer had advanced to a point where it required radical radiation treatment.  He lost his teeth and, being on Medicare and far away from the treatment center, was only minimally cared for.  A strong, strapping man, he slowly lost weight until, finally, last month, his body shut down.

We had been calling him weekly and he put up a good front – we didn’t know his actual physical state.  Upon his death, we went out to California to try to settle his estate.  When we got there, we found piles of unopened mail.  In going through these, we saw how our society treats those without money.  He had taken out a reverse mortgage that had paid for his taxes, insurance, all, of course, for a price.  There were unpaid parking tickets that had ballooned from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars.  It was a shocking experience for me to see hard evidence of the axiom “It’s expensive to be poor.”

How could someone in this situation provide for a child who needed more than the traditional educational system could offer?  What recourse do they have when their kid(s) rebel against an educational environment that does not meet their needs?

Our Society Needs All It’s Talent

Our society cannot afford to discard entire populations because of their economic status.  The percentage of gifted kids who are poor is the same as the percentage of gifted kids who are rich.  The longer kids stay in school, the greater their income potential.  As a society, we should do everything possible to make schooling attractive, relevant, and accessible to people of all circumstances.

Pay Now or Pay Later

Education isn’t cheap.  But lack of education is even more expensive. Schools like Steppingstone exist to provide educational opportunities for that small fraction of people that are considered gifted.  If no one else can provide an appropriate education for these students, then we need to find a way for those of minimal means to educate their gifted children.

Only in this way can we say that we provide opportunity for all, regardless of circumstances.