Educators say more students are impoverished

BRISTOL, Va. - Two Bristol, Va. educators met with the public on Sunday to talk about their new book on poverty in schools. It's called "Educating Students in Poverty."

Poverty in schools is a growing problem, according to the Bristol Virginia Public Schools Assistant Superintendent, Rex Gearheart.

He told us it's even an issue in Virginia, one of the wealthiest states in America. "Every student that is added to the roll throughout Virginia essentially is a student in poverty," said Gearheart.

He said that in Bristol, about 75 percent of elementary school students come from impoverished homes. "Essentially seven out of every 10 kids," he said. "If you have a classroom full of 20, 14 of those kids are in poverty and they lack those resources and prior knowledge."

This puts a burden on educators, Gearheart said.

That's why Gearheart and superintendent Dr. Mark Lineburg teamed up to write a book to help teachers called 'Educating Students in Poverty.' "We've been in different kinds of places," Gearheart told us. "We've been in rural places, urban places, places in school divisions and we've also been in one division that was more affluent."

They told us there is a class difference. "When you look at test scores across the country, you see the tremendous gap that still exists between our students in poverty, and those who are not," said Lineburg.

Lineburg told us impoverished students have more unsupervised time, are more likely to come from a single parent household and tend to have malnutrition. "You put all of that together, and it's a recipe for a very tough situation," he said.

Lineburg told us there are ways to help these students. "We think extending time for learning, whether it's summer programs or intercession programs, are really important," he said.

Lineburg also told us it's important to make sure the children get to school, and pay attention while they're there.

Gearheart and Lineburg were at the Bristol Public Library on Sunday to promote their book and do a book signing.

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