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Poverty Reflection

Austin Bogina

When I entered the poverty simulator on Friday I never could have prepared myself for
what I was in store for. On Friday I learned that Crawford County is one of the poorest counties
in the state but I have lived here my whole life and never realized it. Reflecting back on how I
have managed to live in the area from 23 years and never understand the difficulties that so many
people have to live each day with is astonishing to me. What I realized though is that you may
spend your entire life among people who have lived their entire life in poverty and may still
never know it.
Once we opened up our packet and scanned through the documents the whole process
began to feel life-like. After distributing the different identifications to each of our group
members I felt myself instantly transitioning myself into who this new person might have been.
I let my three team members select their identifications which allowed me to take the roll that
was least desirable among my peers. That roll happened to be an unemployed mother who lived
with her husband, high school daughter, and her own mother who had just been diagnosed with
paralysis. While I was reviewing the individual I would be portraying my first instinct was that I
would be the backbone of the family. Luckily the husband was employed because my character
had no job and had to take care of her mother all day while the husband was at work and the
daughter at school.
After all of the basics of the family were covered the simulation began and we had little
time to waste. In the 15 minute period that was considered to be one month I had to make an
authoritative decision to sell the familys car that was worth over $300. Unfortunately I caught
on to how this simulation was set up because no matter what you attempted to do, somehow you
always seemed to get short-handed. When attempting to sell our car the buyer offered around

$170 which was a massive hit to the amount we needed for bills and food. Against my better
judgement I accepted the offer but asked for $50 to be in transportation dollars and then $120
in cash. I have worked enough jobs to know that any time you are getting payed in cash you
should always have the person count in out to you and then you count it back. I never even had
to count it out myself because as the buyer was distributing the $50 in transportation dollars he
would place them in stacks of 10 and count them out loud. The issue was that as he was
counting he would go 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 then continue on like that which meant we
ended up 5 transportation dollars short. I was not going to fight him on it because I knew the
simulation was set up for us to have everything that could go wrong, go wrong and I did not want
to get sent to jail for disturbing the peace. I made the decision to purchase a large amount of
transportation dollars because I realized the importance of being able to get to different places
and without those transportation dollars our family would be stranded. The transportation dollars
were our lifeline to pay bills, for the husband to get to work, for our daughter to attend school, so
without them we would have ended up homeless like the majority of the other families in the
While I had to decide whether or not to attempt to get a second job for extra income, I
knew that my main job was to stay current on all daily tasks. I knew that it was my job to keep a
roof over our head, food on the table, and our utilities on once the husband received his paycheck
for the month. With only 15 minutes per month time management was a huge factor in survival
because with the long waiting lines it was nearly impossible to be able to wait for a paycheck to
be cashed and then take that money and pay your mortgage, utilities, food, and fees before the
bell sounded ending the month. The only issue we faced throughout the entire simulation was
that during the first month we were not able to make the time to get food for the family. By the

second month we had devised a plan that allowed each family member to accomplish their duties
in the order that we needed so we were able to take care of all necessary tasks.
By the final month our family was one of three families that had managed to keep our
house, purchase the necessary food, pay all bills and fees, and even take in another family who
had ended up homeless. When the bell sounded for the end of the simulation I was both
physically and mentally exhausted from the experience. Reflecting on how families manage to
live their life like that day-in and day-out has shown me a completely new side of viewing the
world. Thinking about my students who have come from home lives such as what we had to
experience made me realize the difficulties that so many students face once they leave the safety
of the school. Due to the simulation I have developed a newly established mindset for when I
enter the classroom and even for how I see the world.
Reading the article The Influences of Poverty on Achievement I was left reflecting on
several different opinions of mine that differ significantly from the article. I have never felt that
a students home life during the school year made the great of a difference on a students success.
When it comes to the summer months, however, I do agree that it can have a disastrous effect on
students success especially for those who live in poverty. While summer school is a fantastic
idea to keep students minds growing and fine-tuning the concepts that they have already been
taught and introducing them to new ones it is not the end-all answer.
Building on the idea that all students will see a years worth of learning gains in one
school year, I understand where they are coming from when they point out how not all students
are starting at the same place. The issue is that I do not support the idea that this is due to
poverty because so many students are allowed to be passed along through grade levels before

ever mastering the necessary concepts that justify moving on to the next grade. When the article
discussed the 30 million word gap for children in the first four years of their life was something I
have never thought about before. After the poverty simulator I can now see how that is definitely
possible because even in the simulation we were so busy that if there was a child in the house it
would get minimal attention. That minimal attention at such a young age does indeed already
place the child at a lower starting block than children coming from middle to upper-class
environments. The article stated that the 30 million word gap was equivalent to 2.5 years of
school which explains the significant range differences between so many students.
To conclude, after reading the article and participating in the simulation I have gained an
entirely new view of poverty. While students living in poverty have just as good of a chance to
succeed as those that do not, I must remember to be aware of the different home-environments
that my students are coming from. I need to always understand why a student may not be able to
read their assigned 20 minutes each night, or have their parents sign their forms, or anything that
I expect completed by students outside of the classroom. Due to this weeks lesson on poverty
my eyes have now been opened.