In the Hechinger Report, Amanda Wahlstedt wrote about the empathy gap she experienced as a poor student with a disconnected privileged teacher. She wrote:
As a young girl in rural southeastern Kentucky, I remember distinctly hearing my teacher talk about “first of the month-ers,” or people who were out and in the grocery stores at the first of the month, typically with shopping “buggies” overloaded with preserved food.
When I looked around the classroom I noticed many of my friends either staring timidly down at their desks or exchanging looks as the wealthier students encouraged the teacher on her rant.
Because the “welfare queen” idea is prominent among people who do not understand poverty, I wanted to excuse my teacher or at least only gently correct her.
Could she be blamed for not knowing the struggle of only being able to afford transportation to the grocery store once a month? I do not know, but I do know that when I would get into the car after school with dad wearing his tattered coveralls from working in the woods that day and he would offer to take me to the store, I would often say we should do it later; heaven forbid we saw one of my teachers.
There is an empathy gap between far too many educators and students like me, and I think it may explain why I so often felt disenfranchised in school.