Economic Stresses Surface in the Classroom

Courtney Williams's picture
Friday, October 21, 2011

The slumping economy has had an under-publicized effect on children, who bring the pain of their parents’ troubles to school in the form of stress, hunger, lack of money for basic activities or even homelessness.

Dealing with economically deprived students has been a regular duty of some suburban districts that have had lower-income demographics for decades. But now even more affluent school systems are having to cope with the negative effects today’s economy can have on youths.

The issue came to the forefront during a Sept. 26 visit Sen. Dick Durbin made to Golf School in Morton Grove while promoting the American Jobs Act. District 67 Supt. Jamie Reilly told Durbin that children are showing up at school increasingly stressed, requiring additional help in an era of cutbacks to key positions like guidance counselors.  

“Kids are feeling distracted in class,” one teacher told Durbin,

Illinois’ senior senator was moved. “It’s something I’ve never thought of,” he said.

A survey of districts in Glenview and Northbrook showed these economic and psychological woes afflicting children are increasingly widespread.

“I don’t believe there is a school out there that has not seen an impact on  students’ functioning due to the current economic situation,” said Lara E. Cummings, assistant principal for student services at Glenbrook South High School. “Students struggling with home/family situations bring their baggage to school.  It is very difficult to expect a student to focus on math or social studies when they know they are about to lose their home.”

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