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Every Child in Focus: Month of the Suburban Child

Sep 27, 2017, 10:53 AM

“Friendship” by Jadyn Sano

A host of assumptions can be made about the U.S. suburbs and the populations who reside there.  However, our preconceived notions from TV shows like “Leave it to Beaver” no longer hold true.  Gone are the days of quaint neighborhoods filled with bright green lawns and white nuclear families.  They have given way to a far more diverse and dynamic way of life, enriching the lives of those who live there.  The face of the suburbs is changing, and these changes are creating new learning experiences for our children.

"Diversity Means Celebrating our Differences” by Caroline Manning

“Diversity Means Celebrating our Differences” by Caroline Manning

 

Once a safe haven from the “dangers of city living,” the gap between urban and suburban communities grows smaller every day.  Suburban populations are rising quickly, as are poverty levels.  According to a Brookings Institution study, “Between 2000 and 2008, the suburban poor population grew almost five times as fast as the city poor population, so that suburbs are now home to almost 1.9 million more poor people than their primary cities.”  By 2009, city and suburban unemployment rates had increased by nearly the same percentages; 9.6% and 8.7% respectively.  This means more free and reduced-price lunches for students, less accessibility to quality and up to date educational materials, and less flexibility for parents and caregivers to spend time at home and provide academic support to their children.

"Diversity Means Celebrating our Differences” by Caroline Manning

“Diversity Means Celebrating our Differences” by Caroline Manning

However, changes in the suburbs have brought wonderful opportunities to the children who live there.  Minority populations have drastically increased, creating more diverse communities and learning environments. According to 2010 census data, 59% of Latinos opt for suburbia living, as well as 62% of Asians.  In total, minorities make up 35% of suburban populations nationwide.  This provides students an opportunity to learn from a more global perspective, understanding their role as a citizen of the world.  The family structure has changed as well, with more and more children being raised in less conventional homes.  Today’s suburbanite children see the potential for love and caring rather than the potential for normalcy.

Here at National PTA, we see this shift of perspective in the incredible artwork students submit to the Reflections® program. Their artwork demonstrates an understood connectedness and shared humanity woven through every race, ethnicity, religion, and lifestyle.  Through new trials and tribulations in their communities, our suburban student artists arise triumphant, joining hands and powering forward together with strength they could never muster alone.