The granddaughter of sharecroppers in rural northeastern North Carolina with
a 4th and 7th grade education respectfully, growing up was a responsibility of family and community. My neighbors next door kept an “eye out” for my siblings and me and reported any behavior that was not becoming. There was a sense of shared responsibility between my grandparents and my neighbors. They valued similar things, and they reinforced those values with consistency.
Moving community and family timelines along, there was less and less appreciation for and reliance on the community as caregiver and stakeholder. They became pesty interveners whose opinions and supports were scoffed at more so than not. It is said that public policy and research still hold great promise for communities of poverty even with the passage of legislation that advances the role of technology as facilitators of learning when persistent poverty communities still struggle for access to technology. Whether it is a neighbor who is too curious or public policy and research that don’t quite get the need right, communities must get it right. They must fill the gap when all other things fail to and then transport every child across educational divides that have plunged them and their community into poverty.
I can remember every day-after school my grandma would be waiting for the bus to drop me off and near by; a switch would be waiting too. It served as a personal reinforcer; learning was serious business and I had, better do it! Just as the collective will of both my grandparents and my community imported my love for learning and reinforced – I’d better learn; communities of poverty must become “learning communities” again. Communities must say that education matters because its future is irrevocably linked to the quality of creativity and commitment that will be made to it, because of it. Invest as a learning community and in return, you get a healthy, vibrant, place to enjoy a brilliantly crafted quality of life!