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University of Wisconsin–Madison
Poverty-related issues in the news, from the Institute for Research on Poverty

Category: Education

Dayton Daily News Series on the Achievement Gap

The Path Forward: Urgent turnaround needed as state takeover looms, By Josh Sweigart, August 26, 2018, Dayton Daily News: “The threat of a state takeover of Dayton Public Schools creates urgency to address long-unchecked problems in a district where race, poverty and a culture of failure have dragged like an anchor, erecting barriers children struggle to overcome. A Dayton Daily News investigation found a wide achievement gap between black and white students, racial disparities in discipline, chronic absenteeism, a large number of classes taught by substitutes and students who face staggering obstacles at home…”

School Funding

Why school spending is so unequal, By Mike Maciag, August 2018, Governing: “The Hopatcong School District, serving a solidly middle-class borough of Sussex County, N.J., has a lot of money to work with. It spent approximately $40,000 per student in fiscal 2016 — more than any other school district in the country with at least 1,000 students. A few other New Jersey districts of similar size were spending less than a third of that. Such vast differences in education spending are common across districts, and come as debates over teacher pay and demands for more overall state support have garnered a lot of attention this year…”

Employment of Less-Educated Workers

Workers hardest hit by recession are joining in recovery, By Nelson D. Schwartz and Ben Casselman, August 3, 2018, New York Times: “The least educated American workers, who took the hardest hit in the Great Recession, were also among the slowest to harvest the gains of the recovery. Now they are a striking symbol of a strong economy…”

Financial Literacy

It’s hard to manage your credit when you’ve never heard of ‘interest’, By Marsha Mercer, August 7, 2018, Stateline: “When Kentucky state Treasurer Allison Ball and a colleague talked with high school seniors last year about credit cards and other pieces of the personal finance puzzle, something wasn’t right. “We kept using the word ‘interest’ and we kept getting blank stares,” Ball recalled. Finally, she asked the students who knew what interest is. No one did…”

College Students and Food Insecurity

For many college students, hunger ‘makes it hard to focus’, By Michelle Andrews, July 31, 2018, National Public Radio: “As students enter college this fall, many will hunger for more than knowledge. Up to half of college students in recent published studies say they either are not getting enough to eat or are worried about it. This food insecurity is most prevalent at community colleges, but it’s common at public and private four-year schools as well…”

Prison Education Programs

Throw the books at them: How more training for Wisconsin’s prisoners could help companies, By David D. Haynes, July 26, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Mike Williams finished high school at age 15, and by the time his classmates got around to receiving their own diplomas, he had another one: an associate’s degree in computer electronics at Milwaukee Area Technical College. He was judged as a bright young man by his instructors, someone who learned quickly. But Williams also ran with the wrong crowd in those days and made a series of poor decisions as a young man that would upend his promising life for many years. He sold marijuana and was imprisoned for the crime, then was sent back to prison on probation violations…”

Ohio Early Childhood Race and Rural Equity Report

  • Ohio report ties poverty, race and geography to lifelong success, By Laura Hancock, July 25, 2018, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Ohio children who are not ready for kindergarten have a hard time catching up over the years, with their scores in third grade reading and eighth grade math continuing to lag, according to a study released Wednesday. The report, by the education advocacy organization Groundwork Ohio, found poverty is often tied to insufficient kindergarten readiness. It also found children who are black or who live in the 32-county Appalachian region tend to more often be poor…”
  • Report: Minority, Appalachia kids at greater risk of remaining poor for life, By Catherine Candisky and Mary Beth Lane, July 26, 2018, Canton Repository: “Young children of color or who live in rural Appalachia are more at risk of starting behind — and staying behind, well into adulthood — than their more-affluent peers elsewhere in Ohio, a new report shows. Groundwork Ohio released the Ohio Early Childhood Race & Rural Equity Report 2018 on Wednesday. Shannon Jones, executive director of the nonpartisan child-advocacy organization, said it was the most-comprehensive early childhood report in the state’s history…”

Homelessness and Food Insecurity Among College Students

  • The hidden crisis on college campuses: Many students don’t have enough to eat, By Caitlin Dewey, April 3, 2018, Washington Post: “Caleb Torres lost seven pounds his freshman year of college — and not because he didn’t like the food in the dining hall. A first-generation college student, barely covering tuition, Torres ran out of grocery money halfway through the year and began skipping meals as a result…”
  • Hunger and homelessness are widespread among college students, study finds, By Vanessa Romo, April 3, 2018, National Public Radio: “As college students grapple with the rising costs of classes and books, mortgaging their futures with student loans in exchange for a diploma they’re gambling will someday pay off, it turns out many of them are in great financial peril in the present, too. More than a third of college students don’t always have enough to eat and they lack stable housing, according to a survey published Tuesday by researchers at Temple University and the Wisconsin HOPE Lab…”

Child Care Subsidies – California

Thousands of families are eligible for child care subsidies. Actually getting them? Good luck., By Priska Neely, March 27, 2018, Southern California Public Radio: “When her son Jeremiah was born, Bertha Terrones spent weeks calling centers to find care. Eventually, after months passed, she went to visit in person. ‘You feel helpless, like, you’re watching and can’t do anything about it because there’s no progress,’ said Terrones, in Spanish. ‘The programs aren’t reaching the cities where these services are needed most.’  Terrones, who lives in Cudahy, in southeast L.A. County, spent more than a year on a waitlist. Tens of thousands of families across L.A. County face similar experiences. While 51 percent of babies and toddlers in the county are eligible for state-subsidized child care programs, only 6 percent of these children are served, according to new analysis by Advancement Project California, released on Tuesday…”

School Choice

  • Battle over private school choice playing out at Texas polls, By Julie Chang, March 15, 2018, Austin American-Statesman: “The battle over whether public money should be spent on private school tuition played out at polls across the state this month and will continue in runoff contests on May 22. Public school teachers, who launched a noteworthy get-out-the-vote campaign, and supporters of so-called private school choice ended the March 2 Texas House primaries in a draw…”
  • Black students have longer commutes under school choice, By J. Brian Charles, March 15, 2018, Governing: “Black children often travel farther to school and face longer commute times than their white and Latino classmates, according to a new report from the Urban Institute. In cities including Denver, New York City and Washington, D.C., black children are more likely to leave their own neighborhood in search of a high-quality school, according to the study, which examined urban school districts that operate school choice programs…”
  • Inside the virtual schools lobby: ‘I trust parents’, By Anya Kamenetz, February 13, 2018, National Public Radio: “A free day at the aquarium! For Marcey Morse, a mother of two, it sounded pretty good. It was the fall of 2016, and Morse had received an email offering tickets, along with a warning about her children’s education. At that time, Morse’s two kids were enrolled in an online, or ‘virtual,’ school called the Georgia Cyber Academy, run by a company called K12 Inc. About 275,000 students around the country attend these online public charter schools, run by for-profit companies, at taxpayers’ expense…”

Student Homelessness – New York City

New York City is failing homeless students, reports say, By Elizabeth A. Harris, March 15, 2018, New York Times: “City workers assigned to help homeless students are desperately overwhelmed, leaving many of those children, among the most vulnerable in the public school system, to miss enormous amounts of school and fall far behind their classmates, two reports say.  Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has been scrambling for years to stanch the cascade of families falling into homelessness, a wave that has become a crisis for the city, his administration and, most of all, the tens of thousands of people with no place to live. The two reports, scheduled to be released on Thursday, highlight how far the city has to go in addressing their needs…”

School Funding – Baltimore, MD

Free lunch program unintentionally cost some Baltimore schools thousands in federal funding, By Talia Richman, March 7, 2018, Baltimore Sun: “When Baltimore’s public school district joined a universal free lunch program three years ago, the city celebrated. Now every student in the district, regardless of income, could get healthy, wholesome food each day, courtesy of federal taxpayers. But in an unintended consequence, the move has cost some of the city’s high-poverty schools hundreds of thousands of dollars in other federal funding — losses that have led principals to cut staff and programs from some of the buildings that need them most…”

Medicaid Spending to School Districts

Medicaid’s little-known benefits for millions of US students, By Anna Gorman and Carmen Heredia Rodriguez, March 6, 2018, CNN: “Gerardo Alejandrez used to punch classmates, throw chairs and curse at his teachers, conduct that forced him to switch from school to school. ‘I had a lot of anger issues,’ the 16-year-old said recently. Then Gerardo entered a class at Oakland Technical High School for students who have mental health or behavior issues. In that classroom, the teacher gets support from Erich Roberts, a psychiatric social worker assigned to the group. Oakland Unified School District bills Medicaid, the nation’s insurance program for low-income residents, for Roberts’ services…”

Disparities in School Suspensions

  • Minnesota students of color and those with disabilities disproportionately suspended, study finds, By Kelly Smith, March 2, 2018, Star Tribune: “Students of color and those with disabilities are twice as likely to be suspended or expelled from Minnesota schools than their white peers or students without disabilities, a new state study reveals. The analysis, released Friday by the state Department of Human Rights, showed that students of color made up 66 percent of all school suspensions and expulsions in the 2015-16 school year, even though students of color only make up 31 percent of the student population in Minnesota…”
  • Disparities continue in suspensions of black students in California, By Jill Tucker, February 20, 2018, San Francisco Chronicle: “Each day, nearly 400 black students across California are suspended from school for a behavioral infraction, typically sent home to serve their sentence. That adds up to 68,000 days of school missed by African American students, most of them boys…”

School Funding – Connecticut

In school funding fight, Connecticut weighs uncertain next steps, By J. Brian Charles, February 7, 2018, Governing: “Connecticut is the richest state in the country. And like all affluent states, Connecticut pours billions into education each year. Only the District of Columbia and two other states (Alaska and New York) spend more per student. But for all the money Connecticut spends, it can’t seem to close the gap between students in the richest districts in the state (places like Greenwich, Westport, Avon and Farmington) and the poorest districts in the largest cities like Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport…”

Racial Achievement Gap

How a popular college-prep program is narrowing achievement gap for black, Latino students, By Beau Yarbrough, February 2, 2018, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin: “Minority students lag behind white students in college graduation rates. But the AVID program, common in Southern California schools, helps narrow the achievement gap, according to a new report. The news comes even as schools are starting to expand who’s offered a spot in the program…”

School Funding – Baltimore, MD

How Baltimore schools determine what constitutes poverty among students, families, By Talia Richman, January 26, 2018, Baltimore Sun: “The Baltimore school board voted this week to revamp the district’s funding formula, choosing to provide extra dollars to schools on the basis of student poverty rather than standardized test scores. So how does Baltimore City Public Schools decide who qualifies as poor? Districts across the country have historically used the percentage of students who qualify for free-and-reduced priced meals, or FARMs, as a proxy for poverty. But given Baltimore’s large number of qualifying students — 86.5 percent received free or discounted meals in the 2014-15 school year — the district began offering free meals for all students through a federal program that eliminates the need for families to fill out the cumbersome FARMs application…”

Gifted Student Programs

The push to find more gifted kids: What Washington can learn from Miami’s wins, By Claudia Rowe, December 7, 2017, Seattle Times: “Every year, Lisette Rodriguez runs through the same conversation with angry, confused parents. No, she explains, their child does not qualify for a gifted-education program, despite having a high IQ score of 129. And yes, she adds, the child sitting at the next desk does qualify — despite scoring 117 — because his family is poor. ‘You’re telling me that my child would have been in gifted but isn’t, just because I can pay for his lunch?’ parents ask, incredulous. Yes, exactly, says Rodriguez, who directs advanced academic programs for Miami-Dade County Public Schools. The nation’s fourth-largest school district has been using this two-tier system since the early 1990s to broaden its pool of students deemed gifted, largely because research shows that a child’s IQ is not static and can stretch with exposure to books, museums and complex material. Or, conversely, shrink under stress, frequent moves and other realities common for low-income families…”

School Districts and Student Achievement

  • How effective is your school district? A new measure shows where students learn the most, By Emily Badger and Kevin Quealy, December 5, 2017, New York Times: “In the Chicago Public Schools system, enrollment has been declining, the budget is seldom enough, and three in four children come from low-income homes, a profile that would seemingly consign the district to low expectations. But students here appear to be learning faster than those in almost every other school system in the country, according to new data from researchers at Stanford…”
  • Stanford University study: Rochester schools last in U.S. in growth, By Justin Murphy, December 5, 2017, Democrat and Chronicle: “A novel, large-scale study from Stanford University shows Rochester-area primary schools are dead last among the 200 largest cities in the country for academic growth. The study, from Stanford’s Center for Education Policy Analysis, examines standardized test score results for all Rochester children and reports the apparent progress by cohort year — that is, how much more 2017 eighth-graders know compared to 2016 seventh-graders…”

Homeless Students and Academic Achievement – New York

New report shines light on homeless students’ achievement gap, By Jay Rey, December 12, 2017, Buffalo News: “Homeless students in New York City fared better on state assessment tests than students in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse who had never been homeless. Meanwhile, more than 16 percent of students in the Buffalo Public Schools who took the state tests two years ago were either homeless or had been homeless at one time. In either case, those students were about half as likely to meet state math and reading standards compared to their classmates who have always had their own place to call home…”