Skip to Main Content

Campus Book Discussion (2018): Hillbilly Elegy

Chapter 8

In this chapter, Vance discusses his resistance to moving in with his mom's new boyfriend, Matt.  Vance also talks about his futile attempts at therapy.  He goes to move back in with his biological father who offered some semblance of normalcy, even with his strict religious rules.  He eventually moves back in with his mom, with the promise that he could stay with his MaMaw whenever he wanted.  In a not-so-surprising twist,  Vance’s mom marries her boss after dating him for a week.  The chapter ends with a discussion about education and why poor kids struggle in school.   It is clear that an unstable home life added to Vance's personal and academic challenges. 


Poverty Affects Education—And Our Systems Perpetuate It
Sean Slade, Senior Director for Global Outreach, ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) cites a statistic from the National Center for Education Statistics that states more than half of America’s school children now live in poverty. Schools in poor areas do not receive the monies they need and have fewer resources, which translates into a lack of political power to influence funding and politics. Slade recommends 4 strategies to address the effects of poverty on students’ education:

1. Provide more government assistance to public schools through Fund Title I, government aid designed to supplement public schools. 

2. Prioritize meal programs—Slade indicates that for many children from poor neighborhoods, the free or reduced lunch they receive is often the only meal they will have.

3. Improve the school climate by addressing issues such as absenteeism, harassment, and lack of enthusiasm for the course content.

4. Providing multiple pathways and support to help students graduate.

Food for Thought

An unstable home life causes Vance to struggle.  What are some other reasons students struggle in school?

Frederick Community College prohibits discrimination against any person on the basis of age, ancestry, citizenship status, color, creed, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, genetic information, marital status, mental or physical disability, national origin, race, religious affiliation, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status in its activities, admissions, educational programs, and employment.