Category Archives: Education

Study: Poverty Impacts Brain Function

By Free Radical 

brain1[1]Several studies have shown how structural racism and economic inequality can create a cyclical path for families trying to escape poverty. A recent piece in The Atlantic shows that economically disadvantaged people not only have to contend with broader socioeconomic challenges, but they also have to “free their mind.”

The Atlantic cites research conducted by Economic Mobility Pathways, or EMPath, which shows that poverty actually can change the brain. It explains that the pre-frontal cortex, which sits at the front of the brain, “handles problem-solving, goal-setting, and task-execution.” The study goes on to say that this portion of the brain works with the limbic system, located in the skull’s center, and “processes emotions and triggers emotional responses, in part because of its storage of long-term memory.”

Large amounts of stress, such as that experienced by impoverished people, result in the limbic system “constantly sending fear and stress

Why Black Kids Benefit From Black Teachers

By Free Radical

A new study shows that Black students who have Black teachers in elementary school are less likely to drop out of high school.

A new study shows that Black students who have Black teachers in elementary school are less likely to drop out of high school.

In a New York Times op-ed, David Jackson, a high school teacher in the New York City area, gave his own take on a recently published study which showed that Black male students were more likely to graduate from high school if they had at least one Black male teacher. The research for the study was organized by the Institute of Labor Economics.

Jackson dispels any myth that simply a shared racial identity gives him magical powers to connect with students.

Instead, he offers that a shared racial background gives him the ability to see Black children “in a way that’s untarnished by the stereotypes, biases and cultural disconnects that fuel inequality and injustice — like the outlook that made Trayvon Martin, carrying Skittles, appear dangerously suspicious to the man who took his life. Like the assumptions that studies show make people see black boys as less innocent than their white peers.”

He continues,  “The amount of melanin in my skin is neither necessary nor sufficient for this: It’s not a magic formula. But I can remember a time when I looked and sounded like my students. That helps me see myself in them, and all they’re capable of. I hope they can see themselves in me.”

For more on David Jackson’s op-ed, click here.




Franks Gets Youth Job Bill Through Missouri House

By Free Radical

Bruce Franks

Bruce Franks

Freshman Missouri state representative Bruce Franks recently got a $6 million youth job bill to pass in the Missouri House.

The funds will be used to create nearly 2,700 jobs in St. Louis and Kansas City.

According to Franks, “That’s 2,700 youths off the street, doing something productive, and following this comprehensive approach.”

The money became available after it was noticed that the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families budget would have less cases due to more stringent requirements to maintain benefits. Therefore the agency would need less funds to accommodate its smaller caseload.

 No plan has been proposed to help those who lost benefits.

Franks intends for his jobs program to be expanded to rural areas. According to him, “Disfranchisement doesn’t have a color, but it does have a class. Most of that time that class is poor, and poverty doesn’t know a color.”

Chance the Rapper Orchestrates Another Million to CPS

By Free Radical


Chancelor Johnathan Bennett also known as Chance the Rapper

On Friday March 31, award winning Chicago based emcee, Chance the Rapper announced that the Chicago Bulls will donate $1 million to the Chicago Public School System. This comes on the heels of Chance the Rapper’s own commitment to give more than $1 million to the school system which he announced at an early March press conference.

At the Paul Robeson High School where the Bulls donation was made public, Chance the Rapper expressed, “This is a philanthropic effort and a charitable effort.” He continued, “The legal stuff, the election process, government-that’s all you guys’ choice individually.

There is context to Chance’s words.

Prior to announcing his personal gift, Chance had tried to meet with Illinois governor Bruce Rauner to encourage the Republican politician to invest more in the Chicago Public Schools. However, Chance the Rapper left the meeting he deemed “unsuccessful” with no concessions.