Low-Income Students at Elite Colleges

For the poor in the Ivy League, a full ride isn’t always what they imagined, By Nick Anderson, May 16, 2016, Washington Post: “To reach the Ivy League after growing up poor seems like hitting the jackpot. Students get a world-class education from schools that promise to meet full financial needs without making them take out loans. But the reality of a full ride isn’t always what they had dreamed it would be.  Here at Columbia University, money pressures lead many to cut corners on textbook purchases and skip city excursions routine for affluent classmates. Some borrow thousands of dollars a year to pay bills. Some feel obliged to send money home occasionally to help their families. Others spend less on university meal plans, slipping extra food into their backpacks when they leave a dining hall and hunting for free grub through a Facebook network called CU Meal Share…”

Racial Achievement Gap

  • New research uncovers little improvement in achievement gap, By Sarah Sparks, May 9, 2016, PBS NewsHour: “Fifteen years of new programs, testing, standards, and accountability have not ended racial achievement gaps in the United States. The Stanford Education Data Archive, a massive new database that allows researchers to compare school districts across state lines has led to the unwelcome finding that racial achievement gaps yawn in nearly every district in the country— and the districts with the most resources in place to serve all students frequently have the worst inequities…”
  • Seattle schools have biggest white-black achievement gap in state, By Gene Balk, May 9, 2016, Seattle Times: “White kids in Seattle’s public schools are doing great. They’re performing about two grade levels above the national average on standardized exams. That finding comes from a sweeping new Stanford studyof 2009-2012 test scores from third- through eighth-grade students around the country. But for black kids in Seattle, the data from that study paint a very different picture. They test one and a half grade levels below the U.S. average. Compared with their white peers in the city, black students lag by three and a half grade levels. That ranks Seattle, among the 200 biggest school districts in the U.S., as having the fifth-biggest gap in achievement between black and white students…”

Internet Access for Low-Income Families

This city is giving super-fast internet to poor students, By Heather Kelly, May 10, 2016, CNN Money: “Around 5 million homes with school-age children don’t have high speed internet, according to the Pew Research Center. In Chattanooga, Tennessee, 22.5% of residents live in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and nearly 25,000 kids are on the public school system’s free and reduced lunch program. Chattanooga is trying to close its ‘homework gap’ with a pair of programs that help low-income families get online…”

College Affordability

As college prices soar, poorest students fall further behind, By Stacy Teicher Khadaroo, April 29, 2016, Christian Science Monitor: “Hundreds of food pantries cropping up on college campuses offer one stark symbol of the gulf between the experiences of rich and poor as they reach for the American dream.  It symbolizes a fundamental challenge facing US families: Even as students from all income backgrounds agree they need it, higher education is getting harder and harder to afford.  In fact, one newly released study suggests the gap in college attainment between students at the top and bottom of the income scale has been widening…”

Poor Quality Housing and School Readiness

Bad housing—not just due to lead poisoning– tied to lower kindergarten test scores, By Rachel Dissell and Brie Zeltner, April 21, 2016, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Cleveland kids who live in– or even near– poor quality housing are more likely to perform worse on kindergarten readiness tests, according to a recent studyby Case Western University’s Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development. Lead poisoning, as in many other studies, was a major contributor to the poor test performance. About 40 percent of the more than 13,000 Cleveland Metropolitan school district children included in the study had records of a high blood lead level before arriving in kindergarten. But it’s not lead poisoning alone that’s hurting these kids. Children in the study with no record of lead poisoning who lived in or near bad housing scored lower on the kindergarten tests than their peers who lived in better housing…”

School Funding

Why America’s schools have a money problem, April 18, 2016, National Public Radio: “Let’s begin with a choice. Say there’s a check in the mail. It’s meant to help you run your household. You can use it to keep the lights on, the water running and food on the table. Would you rather that check be for $9,794 or $28,639?  It’s not a trick question. It’s the story of America’s schools in two numbers. That $9,794 is how much money the Chicago Ridge School District in Illinois spent per child in 2013 (the number has been adjusted by Education Week to account for regional cost differences). It’s well below that year’s national average of $11,841…”

Colleges and Low-Income Students

  • Are colleges doing enough to support low-income students?, By Lucy Schouten, March 24, 2016, Christian Science Monitor: “Breaking the cycle of poverty can start with admission to college, but it doesn’t end with just getting in.  A report by the US Department of Education describes practical strategies for the federal government, states, and the institutions themselves to help with recruiting – and graduating – students from low-income backgrounds…”
  • A new approach to increasing low-income college grads, By Amy Scott, March 24, 2016, Marketplace: “Just over a decade ago, low-income students at Georgia State University graduated at barely half the rate of other students. Today that gap is closed, thanks to initiatives like more intensive advising and grants of as little as $300 to cover unmet financial need.  Meanwhile, the ASAP program at City University of New York nearly doubled completion rates for community college students, by giving them more academic support…”
  • Do financial aid policies make paying for college harder for some?, By Corey Fedde, March 18, 2016, Christian Science Monitor: “College is getting more expensive – especially for low income students.  On Tuesday, a study released findings that low income students face significant challenges meeting the financial requirements to attend many private universities and an increasing number of public universities, despite financial aid.  The study was the third report in a multi-year series from The New America Foundation’s Education Policy Program. Together, the studies suggest the issue is getting worse…”

Economic Mobility – Charlotte, NC

Where children rarely escape poverty, By Emily DeRuy and Janie Boschma, March 7, 2016, The Atlantic: “Charlotte, North Carolina, wants to change its status as one of the worst places in the United States for poor children to have a shot at getting ahead as adults. If the city succeeds, its efforts may offer a roadmap for other major metro areas gripped by barriers such as concentrated poverty and school segregation. Improving schools, particularly how they serve poor black and Latino children, will be a crucial piece in the fight to reduce inequity. Right now, the percentage of children in Charlotte attending schools where at least half the students are poor varies significantly by race…”

College Students and Food Insecurity

Colleges beginning to address the issue of student hunger, By Bill Schackner, March 7, 2016, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Matt Armento’s first trip to the food pantry on the Community College of Allegheny County’s South Campus was as a sophomore volunteering to hand out pasta, canned goods and fruit to other students just scraping by. Honors students at CCAC South had decided that their service project would be to staff the pantry during its soft opening last fall. An honors student himself, Mr. Armento was there to join them. But in reality, he was facing the same financial pressures that had brought his peers there for assistance. So when the pantry held its grand opening this semester, he came back — this time as a recipient…”

Low-Income Households and Internet Access

  • Bridging a digital divide that leaves schoolchildren behind, By Cecilia Kang, February 22, 2016, New York Times: “At 7 p.m. on a recent Wednesday, Isabella and Tony Ruiz were standing in their usual homework spot, on a crumbling sidewalk across the street from the elementary school nearest to their home. ‘I got it. I’m going to download,’ Isabella said to her brother Tony as they connected to the school’s wireless hot spot and watched her teacher’s math guide slowly appear on the cracked screen of the family smartphone. Isabella, 11, and Tony, 12, were outside the school because they have no Internet service at home — and connectivity is getting harder. With their mother, Maria, out of work for months and money coming only from their father, Isaias, who washes dishes, the family had cut back on almost everything, including their cellphone data plan. So every weeknight, the siblings stood outside the low-slung school, sometimes for hours, to complete homework for the sixth grade…”
  • F.C.C. fine-tunes plan to subsidize internet access, By Cecilia Kang, March 8, 2016, New York Times: “People who do not have regular access to the Internet can fall behind in school, at work and in other everyday tasks. The Federal Communications Commission is close to what it hopes will be a solution to address that gap: $9.25 a month. The agency on Tuesday will circulate a final proposal to F.C.C. members to approve a broadband subsidy of $9.25 a month for low-income households, in the government’s boldest effort to date to narrow a technological divide that has emerged between those who have web access and those who do not. While more than 95 percent of households with incomes over $150,000 have high-speed Internet at home, just 48 percent of those making less than $25,000 can afford the service, the F.C.C.’s chairman, Tom Wheeler, has said…”

Racial Achievement Gap and High-Poverty Schools

The concentration of poverty in American schools, By Janie Boschman and Ronald Brownstein, February 29, 2016, The Atlantic: “In almost all major American cities, most African American and Hispanic students attend public schools where a majority of their classmates qualify as poor or low-income, a new analysis of federal data shows. This systemic economic and racial isolation looms as a huge obstacle for efforts to make a quality education available to all American students. Researchers have found that the single-most powerful predictor of racial gaps in educational achievement is the extent to which students attend schools surrounded by other low-income students…”

Pre-Kindergarten – Indianapolis, IN

Indy pre-K shatters goals, setting up funding fight in 2017, By Brian Eason, March 1, 2016, Indianapolis Star: “A pilot program offering prekindergarten scholarships to low-income families in Indianapolis is shattering expectations, but not entirely in a good way. The good news, relayed last week at a City-County Council committee hearing, is that just one year into the five-year program, the public-private partnership already has secured $33.2 million of its $50 million goal. The bad? That initial goal will only pay for less than a third of the demand…”

High-Poverty Schools – Dallas, TX

Dallas ISD to ask city for help integrating high-poverty schools, By Tawnell D. Hobbs and Holly D. Hacker, February 16, 2016, Dallas Morning News: “Dallas ISD wants to try something radical this fall: Open a school where half the kids are poor and half aren’t. It’s radical because the vast majority of DISD schools are high poverty. Campuses with socioeconomic diversity are few and far between. Many middle- and upper-class families have left DISD over the years for private or suburban schools. To succeed, Dallas ISD will have to lure more students from families with more money back to district schools. Research shows that poor children do much better when they learn alongside wealthier peers…”

Stateline’s State of the States Report

State of the States 2016, January 25, 2016, Stateline: “Stateline’s annual State of the States series looks at some of the pressing issues state lawmakers are facing as they begin their work this month. The five-part series includes analytical articles, infographics and interactives…”

National School Lunch Program

Obama’s plan to give free lunches to millions more kids, By Roberto A. Ferdman, January 27, 2016, Washington Post: “The Obama administration will announce new plans Wednesday to launch a pilot program aimed at increasing poor children’s access to food through the National School Lunch Program. The pilot program will allow participating states to use Medicaid data to automatically certify students for free and reduced-price school lunches. Currently, families have to submit an application — a laborious process for parents and a costly one for schools — even when they have already proven that they are income-eligible through their participation in other government assistance programs…”

Young Black Men and Unemployment – Chicago, IL

Nearly half of young black men in Chicago out of work, out of school: report, By Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz, January 25, 2016, Chicago Tribune: “Nearly half of young black men in Chicago are neither in school nor working, a staggering statistic in a bleak new youth unemployment report that shows Chicago to be far worse off than its big-city peers. To 24-year-old Johnathan Allen, that’s no surprise. ‘It’s right there in your face, you don’t need statistics,’ Allen said as he testified before a room full of lawmakers and public officials Monday at an annual hearing about youth unemployment, where the report was presented. He encouraged everyone to walk down the street and witness how joblessness devastates communities…”

Income and College Attendance – Ohio

New state report cards show how college readiness and attendance rise with affluence, plummet with poverty, By Patrick O’Donnell, January 20, 2016, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “New state report card data shows a predictable pattern of how poverty is related to lower college attendance and lower scores on college admissions tests – poor school districts do poorly and affluent districts do well. The Plain Dealer and the Ohio School Boards Association each compared school district poverty rates to college enrollment and readiness data on the state report cards. Across multiple measures, the consistent pattern is that success rates are high when a district’s poverty is low, and low when poverty levels are high…”

High School Graduation Rate – New York City

New York City’s high school graduation rate tops 70%, By Elizabeth A. Harris, January 11, 2016, New York Times: “As New York State officials met on Monday to consider changes to high school graduation requirements, the state announced that the graduation rate inched up last year, with New York City’s edging above 70 percent for the first time. Despite that increase, white students remained far more likely to receive a diploma than black or Hispanic students. And high school graduation remained out of reach for many students with disabilities…”

Staffing at High-Poverty Schools

Study: Low-scoring teachers tend to work in schools with high poverty rates, By Juan Perez Jr., January 12, 2016, Chicago Tribune: “Elementary schoolteachers who scored lowest on Chicago Public Schools’ job performance evaluations were more likely to work at schools serving the city’s most disadvantaged students, an educational think tank concludes in a report released Tuesday.  In observational evaluations and ‘value-added’ evaluations that adjust for the socioeconomic status of the student body, more teachers who received the lowest scores worked in schools with the ‘highest levels of poverty,’ according to the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research…”

Racial Achievement Gap – Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s racial achievement gap widens, By Abigail Becker, December 16, 2015, Appleton Post-Crescent: “When Madison Memorial High School sophomore Demitrius Kigeya solves math problems in his head, other students give him surprised looks. He believes it is because he is black.  ‘I just pay attention in class and do my homework,’ said Kigeya, 15.  Odoi Lassey, 16, a junior, echoed Kigeya’s feelings. ‘People don’t expect you to know anything,’ explained Lassey, who, like Kigeya, is a high academic performer, plays on the high school soccer team and is active in Memorial’s Black Student Union. ‘It’s almost as if you know something, they think you’re weird or you’re acting white … some people think you’re not black just because you try to help yourself out and do well in school.’  The negative stereotype that follows students such as Kigeya and Lassey is rooted in Wisconsin’s dismal racial academic achievement record…”