Author Paul Tough tells OC crowd that an adversity gap in the U.S. contributes to the achievement gap

Author Paul Tough tells OC crowd that an adversity gap in the U.S. contributes to the achievement gap
Paul Tough speaks to audience at OC Forum. Photo by Kathleen Freed.

Paul Tough speaks to audience at OC Forum. Photo by Kathleen Freed.

Best-selling author Paul Tough told several hundred county business and education leaders at the OC Forum Wednesday that while some adversity in a child’s life can be beneficial, that’s not exactly the case for the low-income population that tends to be served by THINK Together.

“In this country we have an adversity gap, where we have some kids who are growing up in poverty that have too much adversity in their lives and what they need from us more than anything is protection from that adversity,” Tough said. 

On the other hand, Tough, himself the father of a 3-year-old boy, noted that children of affluent parents don’t suffer enough adversity sometimes. Tough argues that adversity is key to the development of a child’s character.

Tough is the author of “How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Power of Character,”  and “Whatever it Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America.” His work illustrates the growing achievement gap in America and what leaders need to do to fix it. Tough said that it will take a combined effort of government policy changes and help from individuals who care about those children who are less fortunate.

Tough was speaking at the OC Forum at the invite of the  Orange County United Way, the Children and Families Commission of Orange County and THINK Together. The three community-based organizations are working together to address the countywide issue of closing the educational achievement gap experienced by many at-risk children. Click here to see a Q&A with Tough prior to the event.

Tough is a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine and a speaker on various topics including education, poverty, parenting, and politics.

Click here to some of his work in the New York Times Magazine.