ERIC Number: ED405150
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1996-Nov
Rural Poverty & Education: A Foundational Perspective.
In 1991, after 25 workers died in a fire in a rural North Carolina poultry-processing plant, reporters exposed the exploitation that workers had endured and the company's callous disregard for workers' safety. This paper draws on the story of the fire and its victims to challenge some popular assumptions about poverty in general; rural poverty in particular; and the interrelationships between poverty, employment, and education. Rural poverty usually is invisible, hidden from those who do not wish to see by the mass media's sensationalized focus on urban minority poverty. Attention to rural poverty would challenge the blaming and scapegoating in political discourse on poverty by revealing the scope of poverty (prevalent across the nation); the extent to which White people are poor; the worker exploitation that thrives, often profitably, in rural places; the dynamics of rural-urban-suburban relations; and the significance of geographic privilege. In the poultry plant, working conditions were akin to slavery or prison, and workers either did not know about safety regulations and worker rights or were afraid to speak out. In addition to nonchalance about working conditions, many rural states favor industry by keeping property taxes low, which in turn means that public schools are underfunded and provide a low-quality education to those who end up as cheap labor for industry. Meanwhile, the business elite send their own children to private schools. But, although rural students deserve equal educational opportunities, more or better schooling may not ameliorate rural poverty and economic inequality. In fact, a narrow focus on education as the solution deflects attention from poverty's structural origins. Scholars and researchers in educational foundations can play an important role in public discourse over these matters. Contains 31 references. (SV)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A