News & Observer Series on Low-income Students in Gifted Classes

Counted Out, series homepage, News & Observer: “North Carolina’s public schools are failing to help thousands of low-income children who have shown they are smart enough to handle advanced work. An unprecedented analysis of seven years of state data shows that a far larger proportion of more affluent students are selected for gifted classes over their low-income peers with the same end-of-grade test scores…”

Medicaid Spending to School Districts

Schools brace for impact if Congress cuts Medicaid spending, By Sally Ho and Carolyn Thompson (AP), May 14, 2017, Arizona Daily Star: “For school districts still getting their financial footing after the Great Recession, the Medicaid changes being advanced as part of the health-care overhaul are sounding familiar alarms. Administrators say programming and services even beyond those that receive funding from the state-federal health care program could be at risk should Congress follow through with plans to change the way Medicaid is distributed. They say any reduction in the estimated $4 billion schools receive in annual Medicaid reimbursements would be hard to absorb after years of reduced state funding and a weakened tax base…”

States and Job Training

Why some states are making short-term training free, By Sophie Quinton, May 3, 2017, Stateline: “Community colleges are known for their associate degree programs. But these days, many community colleges award more certificates than degrees. Certificates typically take less than two years to complete and promise to prepare students for entry-level jobs in fields such as medical insurance coding or welding. Now Kentucky and Indiana have created scholarships that would make some certificates tuition-free. The new grants draw inspiration from the free college idea pushed by Democrats like former President Barack Obama and embraced by Oregon, Tennessee and New York. But they’re less focused on reducing soaring tuition prices and more focused on training students for jobs that are sitting open…”

School Voucher Programs

Nation’s only federally funded voucher program has negative effect on student achievement, study finds, By Emma Brown and Mandy McLaren, April 27, 2017, Washington Post: “Students in the nation’s only federally funded school voucher initiative performed worse on standardized tests within a year after entering D.C. private schools than peers who did not participate, according to a new federal analysis that comes as President Trump is seeking to pour billions of dollars into expanding the private school scholarships nationwide.  The study, released Thursday by the Education Department’s research division, follows several other recent studies of state-funded vouchers in Louisiana, Indiana and Ohio that suggested negative effects on student achievement…”

Early Childhood Education

How child care enriches mothers, and especially the sons they raise, By Claire Cain Miller, April 20, 2017, New York Times: “As many American parents know, hiring care for young children during the workday is punishingly expensive, costing the typical family about a third of its income. Helping parents pay for that care would be expensive for society, too. Yet recent studies show that of any policy aimed to help struggling families, aid for high-quality care has the biggest economic payoff for parents and their children — and even their grandchildren. It has the biggest positive effect on women’s employment and pay. It’s especially helpful for low-income families, because it can propel generations of children toward increased earnings, better jobs, improved health, more education and decreased criminal activity as adults…”

New York Free College Tuition Program

New York’s free-tuition program will help traditional, but not typical, students, By David W. Chen, April 11, 2017, New York Times: “The program to provide free tuition for students at New York State’s public colleges and universities passed on Friday by the Legislature has been hailed as a breakthrough and a model for other states that will change the lives of students at public colleges across the state. The Excelsior Scholarship, as the program is called, is expected to cut the cost of a degree from a four-year State University of New York college — now almost $83,000 for tuition, fees and room and board — by about $26,000 for an eligible family making $100,000 a year. That is a substantial reduction, but still means paying about $57,000 over four years…”

High School Graduation Exams – Ohio

Will Ohio’s new high-school graduation exams doom poor kids to failure?, By Bill Bush and Catherine Candisky, April 9, 2017, Columbus Dispatch: “It sounded like a good idea three years ago when state government leaders instituted new graduation exams to make sure kids were prepared for college or a job. That is, until last fall, when state officials began to look at the sobering number of kids who could be denied a high-school diploma next year when the new requirements are to take effect. Some districts and charter schools could see graduation rates plunge by as much as 70 percent, particularly those serving poor minority students. Some charters might not graduate a single student, according to projections compiled by the Ohio Department of Education in response to a superintendents’ march at the Statehouse…”

Early Childhood Education – Milwaukee, WI

Milwaukee Educare helps low-income preschoolers learn by connecting with parents, By Rachel Morello, April 12, 2017, Milwaukee Public Radio: “Close your eyes and picture a preschool classroom. What do you see? Chances are what you envision is probably pretty close to what you’ll find in an Educare classroom.  Educare is an early childhood program that targets children aged 6 weeks to 5 years, who come from low-income families. It’s an offshoot of Head Start, one of the most prominent, publicly-funded early childhood programs in the country…”

States and College Financial Aid

These states give more grant aid to college students in need than the feds, By Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, March 3, 2017, Washington Post: “California, Wyoming and New Jersey provide more aid to low-income college students than the largest federal grant program does, new research shows, but most states give far less.  The study from the University of California at Berkeley documents major differences among states in how much they aid students in financial need.

High School Graduation Rates

  • Minnesota high school graduation rates show narrowing achievement gap, By Beena Raghavendran and Beatrice Dupuy, February 24, 2017, Star Tribune: “Graduation rates for black students at Minnesota high schools rose 3 percentage points in 2016, a sign of progress in narrowing the achievement gap between white students and students of color, according to data released Thursday by the state Department of Education.  While the black students’ gains were most pronounced, the graduation rate for all students also continued along a slow upward trend. Across Minnesota, 82.2 percent of last year’s senior class graduated within four years — the highest overall rate recorded by the department…”
  • How Boston achieved its record high school graduation rate, By Josh Kenworthy, March 3, 2017, Christian Science Monitor: “Dante Omorogbe might sound like any other school kid rattling off his grades: ‘A – for senior math, A- in Algebra …,’ but for the 21-year-old senior, they mean so much more.  Mr. Omorogbe originally was set to graduate in 2014. That was until, after a fight with his dad, he was ‘tossed’ out on the street. Eventually, his grandmother took him in for a while, but with her working during the day, Omorogbe needed to care for his gravely ill grandfather. School eventually became too much, so he dropped it…”

School Breakfast Programs – New Jersey

More than half of low-income children get breakfast in school in NJ, By Diane D’Amico, February 14, 2017, Press of Atlantic City: “Almost 268,000 low-income children in New Jersey got free or reduced-price breakfast in the last school year, a 6 percent increase from the year before, according to a national report. But breakfast is still not readily available to every child eligible to receive it.  The annual School Breakfast Scorecard, released Tuesday by the Food Research and Action Center, shows New Jersey improved its national ranking from 23rd in 2014-15 to 19th in 2015-16…”

Small Grant Programs for Low-Income College Students

Universities try new way of providing aid to boost graduation rates for low-income students, By Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, February 6, 2017, Washington Post: “Several public universities are taking part in a pilot program to provide small-dollar grants to help low-income students complete their degrees.  The five-year project is a collaboration of Temple University and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, which will use a nearly $4 million grant from the Education Department to examine and build out completion aid programs at up to 10 universities…”

Homelessness and Food Insecurity Among College Students

State’s public colleges see rise in hunger, homelessness, By Michael Levenson, January 25, 2017, Boston Globe: “The state’s colleges and universities are reporting that hunger and homelessness among students have increased over the past year, an alarming new disclosure that makes clear that many low-income students have far more to worry about than just exams and extracurricular activities.  The findings, released Tuesday, come from a survey of administrators at the 29 state colleges and universities, 24 of which operate their own food pantries or have partnerships with community food banks…”

Children of Incarcerated Parents

How mass incarceration pushes black children further behind in school, By Melinda D. Anderson, January 16, 2017, The Atlantic: “In the summer of 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the closing remarks at the March on Washington. More than 200,000 people gathered to cast a national spotlight on and mobilize resistance to Jim Crow, racist laws and policies that disenfranchised black Americans and mandated segregated housing, schools, and employment. Today, more than 50 years later, remnants of Jim Crow segregation persist in the form of mass incarceration—the imprisonment of millions of Americans, overwhelmingly and disproportionately black adults, in local, state, and federal prisons…”

Earnings Gap by Education Level

Pay gap between college grads and everyone else at a record, By Christopher S. Rugaber (AP), January 12, 2017, Star Tribune: “Americans with no more than a high school diploma have fallen so far behind college graduates in their economic lives that the earnings gap between college grads and everyone else has reached its widest point on record.  The growing disparity has become a source of frustration for millions of Americans worried that they — and their children — are losing economic ground…”

Parent-Child Home Program – Seattle, WA

Teaching parents how to teach their toddlers: Seattle-area program yields lasting benefits, By Neal Morton, December 21, 2016, Seattle Times: “Nearly a decade before Seattle voters agreed in 2014 to subsidize a preschool program for the city’s families, a small, pilot effort for even younger children debuted in 106 living rooms across King County. Organizers approached parents with a simple sales pitch: Did they want help preparing their children for school? If so, the Parent-Child Home Program would send trained visitors to spend 30 minutes with them twice a week, demonstrating how to get the most educational value out of playing and reading with their 2- and 3-year-olds.  The visitors brought a book and a toy to use in each visit, which the families kept for free.  The hope was that these short, frequent sessions, spread over two years, would keep many poor children from falling far behind richer peers before they even started kindergarten…”

Kalamazoo Promise Program

Did free college save this city?, By Simon Montlake, December 17, 2016, Christian Science Monitor: “Tracy Zarei has wanted to teach children ever since she was in the second grade. She knew she would have to go to college to become a teacher.  ‘She was a straight-A student,’ says her mother, Sheri, who was working double shifts in a nursing home to pay rent on their mobile home. ‘She cried when she got her first B.’  Then one day Tracy’s world shifted. When her mother returned home from work, Tracy handed her a note. ‘She said, ‘Mom, you’re going to be disappointed,’ ‘ recalls Sheri, who thought it must be a traffic ticket. Instead it was a positive pregnancy test. Antonio Jr. was born in March 2005. Tracy was a junior in high school.  For many teenage mothers, this is when school ends and hardship begins. By age 22, only half of all single mothers in the United States receive a high school diploma, compared with 90 percent of their peers…”

Early Childhood Education

A Nobel Prize winner says public preschool programs should start at birth, By Emma Brown, December 12, 2016, Washington Post: “Nobel Prize winner James Heckman’s research has played an important role in establishing that high-quality public preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds can more than pay for itself over the long term, as low-income children who attend are more likely to live productive lives. It’s an economic argument that has persuaded lawmakers from both parties to support early education initiatives.  Now Heckman has released new research showing that the return on investment is even higher for high-quality programs that care for low-income children from infancy to age 5…”

Head Start Programs

  • Head Start is underfunded and unequal, according to a new study, By Joe Helm, December 14, 2016, Washington Post: “Head Start, the federal program that provides education, nutrition and health services to low-income children and their families, is not adequately funded and is administered so differently from state to state that children do not benefit equally, according to a new report from the National Institute for Early Education Research…”
  • Head Start’s state-to-state gaps noted in most comprehensive report card yet, By Ellen Powell, December 14, 2016, Christian Science Monitor: “Head Start just received its first nationwide report card – and improving consistent quality is at the top of the agenda.  In the most comprehensive study of the program yet, ‘State(s) of Head Start,’ released Wednesday, researchers from the National Institute for Early Education Research, at Rutgers University, looked at data on Head Start programs from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and US territories. The study calls for a revived discussion of how Head Start can serve all children in poverty. Increasing funding is a significant part of that conversation, the study’s authors say, noting that programs cannot serve all children – and serve them well – with their current limited resources…”
  • Is Head Start working for low-income latino kids? Depends on the state, By Suzanne Gamboa, December 14, 2016, NBC News: “Quality preschool can greatly benefit low-income children and families, yet the three states with the greatest numbers of Latino residents fell below national averages on enrollment and other measures in a state-by-state report of Head Start programs. On some measures, though, the states beat the national average. The evaluation by the National Institute for Early Education Research, NIEER, and Rutgers Graduate School of Education found great inconsistency among states in Head Start and Early Head Start programs, products of Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty…”

College Students and Food Insecurity

There’s a hunger problem on America’s college campuses, By Katie Lobosco, December 6, 2016, CNN Money: “Montclair State University’s food pantry is tucked away down a maze of hallways in the student center. Like the hunger problem on campus itself, the pantry is not quite out in the open.  It opened on the New Jersey college’s campus in April, after administrators started hearing from students who said they were hungry and didn’t have enough money for food. They surveyed students, finding that more than half said they or someone they know experiences ‘food insecurity’ — the lack of access to affordable, nutritious food…”