School Funding

In 23 states, richer school districts get more local funding than poorer districts, By Emma Brown, March 12, 2015, Washington Post: “Children who live in poverty come to school at a disadvantage, arriving at their classrooms with far more intensive needs than their middle-class and affluent counterparts. Poor children also lag their peers, on average, on almost every measure of academic achievement.  But in 23 states, state and local governments are together spending less per pupil in the poorest school districts than they are in the most affluent school districts, according to federal data from fiscal year 2012, the most recent figures available…”

Racial Disparities in School Discipline – Wisconsin

Wisconsin black suspension rate highest in U.S. for high schools, By Erin Richards, March 1, 2015, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Wisconsin high schools suspend black students at a greater rate than any other state in the country, according to a new report highlighting racial disparities in discipline and the impact on achievement.  The news doesn’t get much better at the younger grades. The state trailed only Missouri in having the largest disparity in suspension rates between black and white elementary school students in 2011-’12, according to the report.  Among districts nationwide with large numbers of K-8 schools, Milwaukee Public Schools suspended more children than anyone else that year…”

School Breakfast Program

How our schools fail poor kids before they even arrive for class, By Roberto A. Ferdman, February 18, 2015, Washington Post: “One of the simplest ways to put poor kids in a position to succeed is to make sure they eat breakfast.   Studies have shown that eating the day’s first meal is not only associated with nutritional benefits, but also cognitive ones — especially for children.A 2013 study, for instance, linked breakfast consumption among children to higher IQs later in life.  A group of researchers in 1989 found that students who ate breakfast tended to perform better on standardized tests…”

Foster Care Youth and Post-Secondary Education

Colorado senator’s bill aims to get youth from foster care, into college, By Jenny Brundin, February 10, 2015, Colorado Public Radio: “State Sen. Linda Newell meets a lot of youth in foster care. One day one of them posted a message on her Facebook page. ‘And [it] said, you’ve got to take a look into this,’ recalls the Littleton Democrat.  ‘This’ refers to the dismal figures, confirmed by a University Northern Colorado study last fall, on the number of foster youth graduating from high school…”

College Completion Gap

  • In earning college degrees, gap between rich and poor has grown, study finds, By Michael Muskal, February 3, 2015, Los Angeles Times: “The education gap between rich and poor continues to grow, becoming a chasm of opportunity that often blocks the search for a better economic life, according to a report released Tuesday. The study, titled ‘Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States,’ was prepared by two groups that analyze college costs and degree attainment. The groups are the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy (AHEAD) at the University of Pennsylvania graduate school of education; and the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, a research institute in Washington…”
  • Big gap in college graduation rates for rich and poor, study finds, By Melissa Korn, February 3, 2015, Wall Street Journal: “College completion rates for wealthy students have soared in 40 years but barely budged for low-income students, leading to a yawning gap in educational attainment between rich and poor that could have long-lasting implications for the socioeconomic divide. In 2013, 77% of adults from families in the top income quartile earned at least bachelor’s degrees by the time they turned 24, up from 40% in 1970, according to a new report from the University of Pennsylvania’s Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy and the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education. But 9% of people from the lowest income bracket did the same in 2013, up from 6% in 1970…”

Achievement Gap – Michigan

6 facts about Michigan’s low-income students and 6 interventions proven to work, By Julie Mack, February 3, 2015, MLive.com: “The achievement gap between middle-class and low-income students is readily evident when looking at Michigan’s test scores, graduation rates and other academic outcomes. For instance, Michigan fourth-graders from low-income families were only half as likely to test proficient in math in 2013-14 compared to their middle-class and affluent peers. In the Class of 2013 at Michigan’s public high schools, 87 percent of middle-class and affluent students graduated on time compared to 64 percent from low-income households. The challenges associated with educating low-income children forms the basis of a new ranking of Michigan schools, based on a formula that compares test scores to percent of the school population eligible for the federal subsidized lunch program…”

Low-Income Public School Students

The growing poverty problem in America’s schools, By Tami Luhby, January 29, 2015, CNN Money: “The majority of children in America’s public schools now are low-income. And that has major implications for the future of the nation’s workforce. The share of schoolkids who qualify for free or reduced lunches crossed the 50% threshold in 2013, according to a recent Southern Education Foundation report. That compares to fewer than 32% back in 1989. Students eligible for subsidized school lunches come from families who are in poverty or just above it. A child living with a single parent would qualify if the family’s income was less than $28,000. A family of four would receive free or reduced lunches if their income was less than $42,600…”

Low-Income Public School Students

Majority of U.S. public school students are in poverty, By Lyndsey Layton, January 16, 2015, Washington Post: “For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation. The Southern Education Foundation reports that 51 percent of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade were eligible under the federal program for free and reduced-price lunches in the 2012-2013 school year. The lunch program is a rough proxy for poverty, but the explosion in the number of needy children in the nation’s public classrooms is a recent phenomenon that has been gaining attention among educators, public officials and researchers…”

College Affordability – Michigan

Low-income students seeing huge cost hikes at some Michigan universities, By Ron French, January 5, 2015, MLive: “Michigan’s poorest college students are bearing the brunt of cost increases at some state public universities, decreasing the chances Michigan’s most vulnerable students will earn degrees. Over a recent four-year period, six of the state’s 15 public universities increased the net cost of attendance for their poorest students ‒ those from families earning less than $30,000 a year ‒ more than for their wealthier classmates…”

NPR Series on Early Literacy

  • Nonprofit fights illiteracy by getting books to kids who need them, By Lynn Neary, December 29, 2014, National Public Radio: “When it comes to learning to read, educators agree: the younger, the better. Children can be exposed to books even before they can talk, but for that a family has to have books, which isn’t always the case. There are neighborhoods in this country with plenty of books; and then there are neighborhoods where books are harder to find. Almost 15 years ago, Susan Neuman, now a professor at New York University, focused on that discrepancy, in a study that looked at just how many books were available in Philadelphia’s low-income neighborhoods. The results were startling…”
  • Talk, sing, read, write, play: How libraries reach kids before they can read, By Lynn Neary, December 30, 2014, National Public Radio: “Literacy begins at home — there are a number of simple things parents can do with their young children to help them get ready to read. But parents can’t do it all alone, and that’s where community services, especially libraries, come in. On a recent morning, parents and children gathered in the ‘Play and Learn’ center in the Mount Airy Library in Carroll County, Md. Jenny Busbey and her daughter Layla were using the puppet theater to go on an imaginary adventure. There are play-and-learn centers in all of the Carroll County libraries…”
  • Vocab tech for toddlers encourages ‘anytime, anywhere learning’, By Lynn Neary, December 30, 2014, National Public Radio: “When the children’s television show Sesame Street first hit the air in 1969, many were deeply skeptical that you could use TV to introduce very young children to the basics of reading and math. But the experiment proved to be a remarkable success; Sesame Street has reached several generations of toddlers with its combination of educational content and pure entertainment. And now, Sesame Workshop is using new technology to reach the next generation. These days, a toddler is just as likely to meet Big Bird for the first time on a tablet or smartphone as on TV, says Michael Levine, executive director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop…”

Free School Lunch Program

Free lunch pilot program lets districts feed everyone at high-poverty schools, By Erin Duffy, December 15, 2014, Omaha World-Herald: “Omaha Public Schools officials hope a new free lunch pilot program being launched in six schools will speed up lunch lines, cut paperwork and fill more rumbling tummies. Starting Jan. 20, six high-poverty schools in north Omaha will start serving free meals to all students, regardless of income, no questions asked. Only one other school district in the state — Santee Community Schools, a reservation school in Niobrara with fewer than 200 students — has opted in for the program, a piece of the federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010…”

School Voucher Programs – Wisconsin

Wisconsin voucher programs march toward 30,000 student threshold, By Erin Richards, December 8, 2014, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “The total number of students receiving private-school tuition vouchers in Wisconsin is about to cross the 30,000 threshold. The three voucher programs in Milwaukee, Racine and statewide enroll 29,683 students, according to results of the official state headcount in September. That makes Wisconsin a leading state when it comes to the number of students attending private, mostly religious schools with the help of taxpayer-funded tuition subsidies…”

Full-Day Preschool

  • Full-day preschool better than part-day, study shows, By Lauren Fitzpatrick, November 28, 2014, Chicago Sun-Times: “Children who went to full-day preschool at one of Chicago’s Midwest Child Parent Centers had higher attendance, lower chronic truancy and were generally better prepared for kindergarten than children who attended only part of the day. That’s according to a new report published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association from the Human Capital Research Collaborative which studied about 1,000 children enrolled during the 2012-13 school year, the first year the Collaborative helped organize full-day programs in Chicago…”
  • Full-day preschool prepares kids better for kindergarten, Minnesota study concludes, Associated Press, November 26, 2014, The Oregonian: “A new study at the University of Minnesota found that child participants who attended all-day preschool were better prepared for kindergarten than those who didn’t. Early childhood education advocates say the results show Minnesota should invest more in preschool programs. They say the move could help narrow the achievement gap between white and minority students in Minnesota…”

Low-Income College Students

  • Minority, low-income college grad rates lag, By Chris Kenning, November 20, 2014, Louisville Courier-Journal: “Kentucky is lagging in its efforts to increase graduation rates among poor, minority and under-prepared college students, according to the Council on Postsecondary Education’s latest accountability report. The annual report, to be discussed by the council at a meeting Friday, showed a six-year graduation rate of 49 percent among bachelor’s degree-seeking students in 2012-13, the latest data available.  But among minority students, the rate was just 33 percent, a decline from 37 percent in 2009-10. It was 28 percent among under-prepared students and increased slightly among low-income students to 37 percent…”
  • Report finds economic gaps for Colorado students attending top schools, By Yesenia Robles, November 18, 2014, Denver Post: “High school graduates from well-off families are nearly 12 times more likely to go to a top college than students from low-income households, according to a report released Tuesday by a group of local nonprofits. ‘We must recognize that different colleges provide different experiences for students, and, if we as a society value equal opportunity as we say we do, it’s critical that Colorado’s low-income students have the same access to elite colleges as their wealthier peers,’ said Van Schoales, CEO of A+ Denver in a released statement. The report, ‘Missing the Bus,’ looked at Colorado high-school graduates from 2010 through 2012 and tracked what college they enrolled in. The report classified top-tier schools using existing ranking systems, including one by U.S. News & World Report…”

High-Poverty Schools – California

California students in high-poverty schools lose learning time, study says, By Teresa Watanabe, November 17, 2014, Low Angeles Times: “California high schools with high-poverty students lose nearly two weeks of learning time annually because of teacher absences, testing, emergency lockdowns and other disruptions compared with their more affluent peers in other schools, according to a new UCLA study. Although public schools generally offer the same number of school days and hours, following state law, the study detailed the significant differences in how the time is actually used. In heavily low-income schools, students lost about 30 minutes a day to factors often connected to economic pressures. Lack of transportation led to more tardiness, for instance, and more transiency made it more difficult to form stable classrooms…”

Risk Load of High-Poverty Schools

Study gauges ‘risk load’ for high-poverty schools, By Sarah D. Sparks, November 6, 2014, Education Week: “Poverty is not just a lack of money. It’s a shorthand for a host of other problems—scanty dinners and crumbling housing projects, chronic illnesses, and depressed or angry parents—that can interfere with a child’s ability to learn. Educators and researchers in several of the nation’s largest districts are trying to look at schools based on a fuller picture of children’s experiences, rather than only seeing poverty as a label. In a study released today, researchers at the Center for New York City Affairs linked data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the school district, and the municipal housing, homeless services, and children’s services agencies, and matched the data with 748 elementary schools (which, unlike the districtwide enrollment system for secondary school, use geographic attendance areas.)…”

Colleges and Low-Income Students

  • Michigan colleges look to boost low-income enrollment, By Kim Kozlowski, October 28, 2014, Detroit News: “Donna Aguilar’s parents, who couldn’t afford to go to college, always encouraged her to make a better life for herself. So four years ago, Aguilar left her home in Los Angeles to attend Kalamazoo College. She will graduate next year with a biology degree. ‘They thought I would have more choices if I went to college,’ said Aguilar, the daughter of a custodian and a factory worker. ‘I would get a better job than they have and I could live more comfortably than they had.’ Aguilar represents a quiet revolution that has been underway at Kalamazoo College…”
  • A new push to get low-income students through college, By David Leonhardt, October 28, 2014, New York Times: “The United States fails to do right by most low-income students who excel in school. They overcome long odds and do well enough in high school to show they can thrive in college. Nevertheless, many never receive a bachelor’s degree. Now, though, the country may be approaching something of a turning point. As data has made clear how many top-performing students from poor and middle-class families fall through the cracks, a range of institutions has set out to change the situation. Dozens of school districts, across 15 states, now help every high school junior take the SAT. Delaware’s governor has started a program to advise every college-qualified student from a modest background on the application process. The president of the College Board, which administers the SAT and has a decidedly mixed record on making college more accessible, says his top priority is college access…”

Skills Gap and Inequality

Economist: Skills, tech gap can’t explain inequality, By Pedro Nicolaci Da Costa, October 20, 2014, Wall Street Journal: “Gaps in educational achievement and shifts in technology, often cited as key reasons for widening income and wealth inequality, do very little to explain the trend, said Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank in Washington. Speaking Saturday at a conference on ‘Equality of Economic Opportunity’ hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Mr. Mishel criticized the event’s narrow focus on local actions to reduce inequality when other possible approaches lie in the realm of broader economic policy…”

Inequality and Social Mobility

Poor kids who do everything right don’t do better than rich kids who do everything wrong, By Matt O’Brien, October 18, 2014, Washington Post: “America is the land of opportunity, just for some more than others. That’s because, in large part, inequality starts in the crib. Rich parents can afford to spend more time and money on their kids, and that gap has only grown the past few decades. Indeed, economists Greg Duncan and Richard Murnane calculate that, between 1972 and 2006, high-income parents increased their spending on ‘enrichment activities’ for their children by 151 percent in inflation-adjusted terms, compared to 57 percent for low-income parents…”

Students and Internet Access

With no Internet at home, Miami-Dade kids crowd libraries for online homework, By Douglas Hanks, October 12, 2014, Miami Herald: “Once again, Christina Morua found herself in the South Dade library longer than she would like on a school night. The 28-year-old single mom sat in the bustling children’s section on a recent Thursday, waiting for her fourth-grader to get on a computer and start some online math homework. ‘We don’t have any Internet at home,’ Morua said as her oldest, 11-year-old Abel, clicked through an assignment on a library laptop while Alina, 9, waited for her turn at a desktop. ‘We just reserved a computer. We have to wait 70 minutes. He got one of the last laptops.’ With more school materials heading online, parents like Morua find they can no longer count on home for homework. That leaves Miami-Dade libraries as a crucial venue for their youngest patrons, but funding challenges, reduced hours on school nights and aging equipment have made it harder to meet the demand…”