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Education

A Stranger Handed This Teacher $500 to Help Her Low-Income Students

Why Should Global Citizens Care
Across the US, schools face chronic budget shortages that affect the ability of students to learn. United Nations Global Goal 4 calls for universal access to education, and you can take action on this issue here.

When Kimber Bermudez boarded a Southwest Airlines flight to visit her parents on July 10, she never expected to leave that plane with $530 more in her wallet, according to Bermudez’s Facebook post. The generous gesture came directly out of a conversation she was having with the stranger sitting next to her.

She had told him about her profession as an elementary school teacher and how hard it is to teach in low-income neighborhoods. Her students often come to school hungry, or without school supplies and other essentials. Faculty members at her charter school, Carlos Fuentes Elementary in Chicago, regularly use their own money to help buy their students whatever they need.

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While Bermudez was talking about her difficulties, she didn’t realize the man next her worked at a company that donates to schools in need. He ended up taking down the school’s information.

Then, the man sitting behind her reached out and tapped her on the shoulder, according to Bermudez’s story on Facebook. When she turned around, he apologized for eavesdropping on their conversation and handed Bermudez five $100 bills. He said, “Do something amazing.”  

Tears began to streak down her cheeks. She thanked him and promised to buy her kids supplies with the money.

Once the plane landed, the man across the aisle from her said he “didn’t have much” and handed her $20. The man in front of her turned around and handed her $10.

Bermudez's story shows how generous strangers can be, but it also highlights the disparities found throughout the education system.

A lack of resources and poverty impact classrooms throughout the US. Across the country, 13 millions kids go to school hungry, according to The Denver Post. Poverty, meanwhile, affects the rate of human infant brain growth, which goes on to affects students’ performance in school, according to a recent study.

These inequalities often fall to teachers to address. In 2014, 94% of public school teachers used their own money to buy basic school supplies and food for students.  

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Charter schools have become increasingly popular in the United States, but their growth often comes at the expense of public schools, which lose funds for every student that goes charter. Charter schools are partially publicly funded schools, often run by for-profit companies, and often take no advising from community groups like school boards. Consequently, charter schools sometimes run undemocratically, and without the students’ best interests in mind, according to critics.

In many states in the US, weak regulations have allowed a boom in charter schools that fail to adequately prepare students, according to The Nation. Oftentimes, these schools have high faculty turnover rates, high student attrition, and inconsistent curriculums, The Nation reports.

Meanwhile, public schools across the country are facing large budget deficits. Over the past year, teachers have been protesting stagnating wages and cuts to funding for higher education, early education, and much more.

Bermudez's story helps bring these stats closer to home. She posted the details on Facebook with the hope that it would “continue the chain reaction of people helping those in need, and especially the children in need.”