An Unlevel Playing Field: Teaching AZ Students in Poverty

An Unlevel Playing Field:
Teaching Students in Poverty

With a nearly 20% poverty rate among Arizona children, families often rely on their local public school in ways beyond providing a quality education. As a result, teachers must ensure basic needs such as nutrition and safety are met before focusing on academics. Read our 8-part series to learn how teachers are managing as first responders to child poverty and why increased education funding is necessary to meet this crisis.

Kristin Roberts, Contributing Writer
9th Grade English Teacher
Carl Hayden Community High School
Phoenix, AZ
Kristin Roberts - An Unlevel Playing Field

Every day, I am blessed to work with young people who are brimming with genius. My students are critical thinkers, creative problem solvers, and empathetic friends. It is truly a joy and honor to support them as they grow. Over my past 15 years teaching in Arizona’s public schools, I have cherished the opportunity to see the genius my students possess. But I have also seen far too many circumstances that could eclipse their brilliance and hold them back from opportunities.

“Over my past 15 years teaching in Arizona’s public schools, I have cherished the opportunity to see the genius my students possess. But I have also seen far too many circumstances that could eclipse their brilliance and hold them back from opportunities.”

Teachers, Unlevel playing field

Opportunity

I remember the two years in a row when Jasmine was eager to take a robotics class, but her guardian could not afford the course fee. I remember when Angel stopped coming to school because he had a growth spurt and outgrew all of his shoes. Last year during remote learning, Sara messaged me to explain that she would miss the next two days of class until her family was able to pay their electric bill. Michael could not stay awake during first period because he worked long hours at his after-school job to help his family with their bills. And all of us have been heartbroken, struggling to focus because we are mourning the loss of one of our own to gun violence. 

“The young people we serve are full of potential. They are ready to impact our world for the better. Arizona must fully fund public education and provide adequate resources so that all students shine.”

Young people are critical thinkers

As a high school teacher, I work with over 150 students a year. I rely on counselors, social workers, and community liaisons to help support our students. They are incredibly talented and hard-working professionals, but the needs are great, and we are all stretched far too thin. The young people we serve are full of potential. They are ready to impact our world for the better. Arizona must fully fund public education and provide adequate resources so that all students shine.

These stories were collected by Save Our Schools Arizona and printed previously as part of a project series with AZ Central. All stories are true, but names of students have been changed to protect privacy.

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