Teaching Tolerance Responds to Growing Economic Inequality by Creating Lesson Plans to Educate


Responding to growing economic inequality in the United States and the lack of education about the issue, the Southern Poverty Law Center's renowned Teaching Tolerance program today released a set of lesson plans to help educators teach students about the nature, scope and history of poverty.

The ABCs of Domestic Poverty, the first school curriculum of its kind, provides exercises that can be used in grades three and higher and in subjects such as U.S. history, math, economics, language and creative arts. It is available for free at www.tolerance.org.

The lesson plans address a major problem facing teachers: how to educate students about poverty when many of those children – nearly one in five nationally – live in poverty themselves.

Domestic poverty often is seen as a taboo subject," said Jennifer Holladay, director of Teaching Tolerance. "When teachers address poverty, they most often run canned food drives for the 'needy' or focus on poverty outside the U.S. The ABCs of Domestic Poverty shows educators how to examine this daunting social problem in meaningful, sensitive ways."

Teaching Tolerance worked with top educators to create the lesson plans, which include a primer on the history of poverty in the United States, from colonial times to present. The activities reject stereotypes and class-based prejudices.

"This new curriculum from Teaching Tolerance can help educators and their students offset the stigmas so often attached to adults and children who live in poverty," said Jeff Sapp, a professor of education at California State University, Dominguez Hills, who assisted with the project. "If we're going to have a conversation, as a nation, about eradicating poverty, we need to understand its roots and its consequences."