Monday, August 29, 2016

Bill Gates, poverty, schools, race, and No Kid Hungry

            I thought I’d improve on my blog posts by sharing one from Bill Gates instead.  Last week he wrote about “a powerful conversation on schools, poverty and race”

            Gates recounts his conversation with Washington State Teacher of the Year, Nate Bowling who teaches at a school in Tacoma, WA where 70% of the students are eligible for a free or reduced price school meal, what educators are calling “the New Majority” in recognition of more than 50% of  public school students now living below the poverty line.

            Bowling received a lot of visibility when he wrote a piece called “The Conversation I’m Tired of Not Having” for which Gates includes a link. It’s blunt and provocative about racial attitudes and practices in America and also worth your time to read.  But what caught my attention was how Bowling so directly framed what’s at stake in our work, while explaining his passion for teaching: “It is a matter of life and death,” he said. “If my students are not successful in school, they end up in the prison-industrial complex.” 

Ultimately Bowling was optimistic: “All kids can learn if they have the support.”  He was speaking mostly of quality teachers but we know that necessary support includes the food and nutrition critical for kids to succeed. That’s the fundamental premise of Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign.  Whether we succeed or not really can be a matter of life and death.

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