Notebooks, uniforms, composition books, the costs of sending your child to school pile up quickly and for low-income families or families living below the poverty line, sometimes it’s so hard to afford, teachers see them become disengaged.

“Children that are coming from high-poverty homes are children that are coming from homes that tend to have fewer books, that tend to have fewer conversations about the sort of thing that they’re learning about in school,” said Savannah Classical Academy Teacher David Withun. “There’s a disconnect that develops between what they’re hearing at home and what they’re hearing at school.”

And research shows he’s right, according to the US Department of Education, by the time many low-income students reach the 12th grade they’re four years behind their grade level.

On Wednesday, former Mayor of Savannah and educator, Dr. Otis Johnson, facilitated an event called “Education vs. Poverty,” and he explained the issue is actually cyclical.

“Without an education you’re going to most likely end up being poor,” he said. “So if we want to deal with the question of poverty, we have to start with the discussion of education.”

The talk was held as a TedX event; attendees watched two videos and then tossed around ideas as to how to fix some glaring issues with our country’s education system; like the prevalence of classism and racism in classrooms.Click here to watch Teaching One Child at a Time and click here to watch Our Failing Schools, Enough is Enough.