I've got a simple, sure-fire solution to raising the test scores of poor children.
Here's my plan:
Everyone who has more than they need can join a mentoring program, get matched to a child who doesn't have enough. You simply promise that child that you will do everything in your power to make sure he or she has clothing and food.
That's it, really. clothing and food.
You see, once the shelter, clothing and food needs are met - amazing things can happen. (Ideally, you'd be able to promise the shelter too, but let's not bite off more than we can chew right away. clothing and food, and books, maybe. I should add books.)
OK, so maybe it is more than that. You see, once you experience the sheer magic of helping a child succeed when they face every single conceivable obstacle in life....something happens to you. You start to care.
So, now a child has food, clothing, books (possibly shelter) AND an adult who cares. Voila - higher test scores.
I've had a rough couple of weeks with my current match situation. Unbloggable stuff. Stuff that has me reaching out to social workers and other professionals. Stuff that has me curl up in the fetal position on my living room rug when I'm all alone and no one can see me crying.
One possible solution for the current "stuff" is to find other matches for some of the other younger kids in the family. Right now, I'm the only match and there are 5 kids. The 8-year-old boy has been on the waiting list for two years. TWO YEARS. TWO YEARS.
It kinda breaks my heart. Turns out there are almost 300 kids on that waiting list. Mostly boys. Most have been on for years. This mentoring stuff works, (really, it works.)
But no one wants to do it.
The one silver lining: I was on the phone with a local respite center talking about (unbloggable stuff) and reading about all the things they need on their website. My daughter, who absorbs way more than I think she does, gathered up every penny she has ever saved, and carried it out to me. She wanted me to give it to the respite center. We are headed over there this week. Just when I think I am doing just about everything possibly wrong that I can as a mother, she goes and does something like that to prove me wrong.
Part of me wants to shield my own 9 year old from the ugly parts of the life of my 10 year old match. I try the best I can. But let's be honest: I can't. We've opened our home and our life to this other child and I can't pretend that her life is just like ours. It isn't.
But her test scores? Up. Way up. So we plug on...two steps forward, one step back.