Child Poverty

The damage of poverty is visible as early as kindergarten, By Danielle Kurtzleben, June 12, 2014, Vox: “A big part of the American Dream is being able to climb the ladder and land higher than your parents. But that climb starts when people are just small children, according to new research, and getting off on the wrong foot has lifelong consequences. In a new article in the spring issue of the Princeton University journal The Future of Children (and highlighted by the Brookings social mobility blog), researchers show that poverty is directly correlated to kindergarten performance. Children who live in poverty have far lower performance than their richer peers across a variety of measures, and those who live in near poverty in turn have dramatically worse performance than middle-class peers. The poorest kids, for example, are less than one-third as likely as middle-class kids to recognize letters. . .”

Inequality and Opportunity

One key to success: A belief in a future, By Eduardo Porter, June 10, 2014, New York Times: “Tim Jackson’s job is to convince young people that they have a stake in the future. The boys in his care at Harper High School, in one of the meanest neighborhoods on Chicago’s South Side, all have harsh stories. Clayton Harris, a bouncy 15-year-old freshman, tells me about his older brother, a high school dropout who smokes weed and does little else. Malik McGhee, still a sophomore at 17, knows what it’s like to have had a gun pointed at his head in fourth grade. Almost half the students who enroll at Harper drop out within five years, one of the highest rates in the city. The school is in a part of town where a dispute over a stolen bicycle or a Facebook fight between two girls over a boy might end up with a dead teenager. . .”

Student Loan Debt Relief

Student loan relief: Obama’s order caps payments at 10% of income, By Christi Parsons, June 9, 2014, Los Angeles Times: “President Obama on Monday signed an executive order that lets millions of college graduates cap their student loan payments at 10% of their income, a move he says will help ‘open the doors of opportunity for all.’ By amending student loan regulations to put the cap in place, Obama is making use of his executive powers to help alleviate the burden for young Americans increasingly saddled with student loans . . .”

College Attendance

A case study in lifting college attendance, By David Leonhardt, June 10, 2014, New York Times: “Sydney Nye was a straight-A student with an SAT score high enough to apply to any college in the country. When her senior year of high school in Wilmington, Del., started about nine months ago, she had dreams of becoming a chemical engineer. But she did not spend much time dreaming about where she would go to college. The notion of attending anything other than a local college seemed too far-fetched. She knew her parents — a dental assistant and a hairdresser, neither of whom had attended college — would have a hard time paying the nearly $100 application fee to elite colleges, let alone the tuition . . . “

Wisconsin Student Poverty

Student poverty increases in Wisconsin schools, May 28, 2014, Wisconsin State Journal: “The percentage of Wisconsin public school students in poverty continues to increase. The Department of Public Instruction reports Wednesday that 43.3 percent of students were receiving free or reduced price lunches this school year. That is up by 625 students, or 0.1 percent, from the previous year. That is 13.8 percent higher than a decade ago. . .”

Inequality and Education

How Education Drives Inequality Among the 99%, By Brenda Cronin, May 23, 2014, Wall Street Journal: “Recent hand-wringing about income inequality has focused on the gap between the top 1% and everyone else. A new paper argues that the more telling inequities exist among the 99%, primarily driven by education. ’The single-minded focus on the top 1% can be counterproductive given that the changes to the other 99% have been more economically significant,’ says David Autor, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist and author of the study. His paper, ‘Skills, Education and the Rise of Earnings Inequality Among the ‘Other 99 Percent’,’ comes as something of riposte to French economist Thomas Piketty, whose bestselling ‘Capital in the 21st Century’ has ignited sales and conversation around the world with its historical look at the fortunes of the top 1%. Mr. Autor estimates that since the early 1980s, the earnings gap between workers with a high school degree and those with a college education has become four times greater than the shift in income. . .”

College Graduation Gap

Who gets to graduate? By Paul Tough, May 18, 2014, New York Times: “For as long as she could remember, Vanessa Brewer had her mind set on going to college. The image of herself as a college student appealed to her — independent, intelligent, a young woman full of potential — but it was more than that; it was a chance to rewrite the ending to a family story that went off track 18 years earlier, when Vanessa’s mother, then a high-achieving high-school senior in a small town in Arkansas, became pregnant with Vanessa. Vanessa’s mom did better than most teenage mothers. She married her high-school boyfriend, and when Vanessa was 9, they moved to Mesquite, a working-class suburb of Dallas, where she worked for a mortgage company. Vanessa’s parents divorced when she was 12, and money. . .”

US High School Graduation Rate

  • High school graduation rates at historic high, By Lyndsey Layton, April 28, 2014, Washington Post: “Calling it ‘a profound milestone,’ Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Monday that the country has reached its highest graduation rate in history, with 80 percent of students receiving a diploma in 2012, the most recent year for which statistics are available…”
  • 80 percent of high school students now graduate, By Kimberly Hefling (AP), April 28, 2014, Chicago Sun-Times: “U.S. public high schools have reached a milestone, an 80 percent graduation rate. Yet that still means 1 of every 5 students walks away without a diploma. Citing the progress, researchers are projecting a 90 percent national graduation rate by 2020. Their report, based on Education Department statistics from 2012, was presented Monday at the Building a GradNation Summit…”

College Students and Food Insecurity

More college students battle hunger as education and living costs rise, By Tara Bahrampour, April 9, 2014, Washington Post: “When Paul Vaughn, an economics major, was in his third year at George Mason University, he decided to save money by moving off campus. He figured that skipping the basic campus meal plan, which costs $1,575 for 10 meals a week each semester, and buying his own food would make life easier. But he had trouble affording the $50 a week he had budgeted for food and ended up having to get two jobs to pay for it…”

Child Well-Being and Race

  • N.J. study warns of continuing struggle for black, Latino children, By Monsy Alvarado, April 1, 2014, The Record: “White, Asian, African-American and Latino children in New Jersey scored higher than the national average across racial and ethnic backgrounds in several key indicators that measure a child’s chance at success in school and in life. But the data in a report, for release today by a national advocacy organization, reveal deep disparities within the state’s racial and ethnic groups in areas including fourth-grade reading proficiency, eighth-grade math skills, high school and college graduation rates, and poverty levels. White and Asian children in the Garden State continue to score better than their Latino and black counterparts in several of these areas…”
  • Minority kids don’t fare as well as whites in Utah, By Kristen Moulton, March 31, 2014, Salt Lake Tribune: “Minority children fare worse in Utah than their white counterparts, but there are plenty of challenges — poverty, and poor access to health care and education — to go around, according to a new national study. The study, ‘Race for Results: Building a Path of Opportunity for All Children’ is being released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count project. For nearly two decades, the foundation has joined with Voices for Utah Children to research the well-being of Utah children. The new study, however, is the first time there’s been a close look at how children fare by ethnic group, said Terry Haven, deputy director for Voices for Utah Children…”
  • Report: Well-being of African-Americans in Michigan among worst in nation, By Charles E. Ramirez, April 1, 2014, Detroit News: “The well-being of African-American children in Michigan is among the worst in the nation, according to a report to be released today. The Kids Count report found only Mississippi and Wisconsin fared worse than the Wolverine state, based on 12 criteria, including normal birth weights, education of parents and the number of children living at or above poverty…”
  • No state worse than Wisconsin for black children, says new national study, By Mike Ivey, April 1, 2014, Capital Times: “For African-American children seeking a better future, no state looks worse than Wisconsin. A new national report shows that children of color face enormous barriers to educational and financial achievement — with Wisconsin ranking last in the disparity between white children and their non-white peers. White children growing up in Wisconsin ranked 10th among the states in an index measuring 12 key indicators at various stages of life, including home situation, educational skills and income. But Wisconsin ranks 50th for black children, 37th for Asian children and 17th for Latino children, according to the study from the Annie E. Casey Foundation titled ‘Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children…’”

College Affordability

College affordability: Low-income students bearing brunt of price hikes at some West Michigan schools, By Brian McVicar, April 2, 2014, mlive.com: “Students from low-income families are seeing college costs rise at a greater rate than their wealthy counterparts at several West Michigan schools, a trend that could hurt the poor as the cost of obtaining a degree continues to rise. The trend can be seen at schools such as Hope College, Calvin College, Cornerstone University and Grand Valley State University, federal data show…”

Social Impact Bonds

Results-based financing for preschool catching on, By Adrienne Lu, March 21, 2014, Stateline: “Six hundred 3- and 4-year-olds are attending preschool in Salt Lake County and Park City, Utah, this year thanks to an innovative financing model that is catching the attention of government officials and lawmakers across the country. Under ‘results-based financing,’ also known as ‘pay-for-success’ or ‘social impact bonds,’ private investors or philanthropists provide the initial funding for social programs that are expected to save taxpayer dollars down the road. If the policy goals are met and the savings materialize (according to third-party evaluators), the investors receive their money back with interest. However, the government doesn’t have to pay out more than it saves…”

Homeless Schoolchildren – New York

Homeless schoolchildren numbers soar as federal funds decline, By Laura Figueroa, March 16, 2014, Long Island Newsday: “The number of homeless schoolchildren has quadrupled in Nassau County and more than doubled in Suffolk since the recession first hit — even as federal funding for homeless student programs has decreased. While Long Island’s economy is recovering, the number of homeless families continues to grow, according to state and county figures. The uptick has strained resources in many districts already beset by layoffs and reduced state education aid. Social service programs for the children and their families also have experienced federal, state and county budget cuts. Apart from New York City, which has some 80,500 homeless students, Suffolk has the highest homeless enrollment in the state. The county had nearly 5,000 homeless students as of the 2012-13 school year, up from 1,956 in 2007-08…”

High School Graduation Rate – Michigan

  • Michigan’s 4-year high school graduation rate rises to nearly 77%, By Jennifer Chambers, February 27, 2014, Detroit News: “Graduation rates in Michigan are increasing, with the statewide four-year graduation rate for the high school class of 2013 reaching 76.96 percent, up 0.7 percentage points from 2012, according to the Michigan Center for Educational Performance and Information. At the same time, the 2013 state dropout rate is down 0.17 percentage points, to 10.54 percent…”
  • High school graduation rates up in Lansing, statewide, By Kathleen Lavey, February 27, 2014, Lansing State Journal: “While the statewide high school graduation rate was up slightly in 2013, Lansing officials were celebrating significant increases at Eastern and Everett high schools and a small uptick at Sexton…”

Minnesota High School Graduation Rate

Minnesota graduation rate rose in 2013, By Kim McGuire and Steve Brandt, February 20, 2014, Minneapolis Star Tribune: “The graduation rate for Minnesota students is the highest it’s been in a decade, even though many minority students continue to lag behind their white peers when it comes to getting a diploma on time, new state data show. About 79 percent of all students graduated in 2013, up from 72 percent in 2003. Last year, 85 percent of white students, 56 percent of black students and 58 percent of Hispanic students graduated, according to data released Wednesday by the Minnesota Department of Education. State education leaders said they are encouraged by the new data, which show minority students making big gains from year to year…”

Parents as Scholars Program – Maine

First a parent, then a scholar: How this Maine woman finally completed college, By Luisa Deprez and Sandy Butler, February 21, 2014, Bangor Daily News: “One-third of American women are living at or near the brink of poverty, often working low-income jobs and raising their children, according to a recent Shriver Report. It underscores the well-established fact that higher education is essential to lifting women out of poverty. But access to education is often difficult…”

Early Childhood Education

Push for preschool becomes a bipartisan cause outside Washington, By Richard Pérez-Peña and Motoko Rich, February 3, 2014, New York Times: “Preschool is having its moment, as a favored cause for politicians and interest groups who ordinarily have trouble agreeing on the time of day. President Obama devoted part of his State of the Union address to it, while the deeply red states of Oklahoma and Georgia are being hailed as national models of preschool access and quality, with other states and cities also forging ahead on their own. With a growing body of research pointing to the importance of early child development and its effect on later academic and social progress, enrollment in state-funded preschool has more than doubled since 2002, to about 30 percent of all 4-year-olds nationwide. In just the past year, Alabama, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana and the city of San Antonio have enacted new or expanded programs, while in dozens of other places, mayors, governors and legislators are making a serious push for preschool…”

Unemployment, Job Training and Education

  • Big companies join Obama in initiative to help long-term unemployed, By Peter Baker, January 31, 2014, New York Times: “President Obama has persuaded some of the nation’s largest companies, including Walmart, Apple, General Motors and Ford, to revamp their hiring practices to avoid discriminating against applicants who have been out of work for a long stretch of time. Mr. Obama hosted a group of corporate chief executives at the White House on Friday to highlight those efforts and the use of presidential persuasion to help the jobless find work. In all, White House officials said, about 300 businesses have agreed to new hiring policies, including 21 of the nation’s 50 largest companies and 47 of the top 200…”
  • Obama wants job training revamped, By Jeff Mason, January 31, 2014, Columbus Dispatch: “President Barack Obama promised to overhaul federal job-training programs yesterday on the second leg of a tour intended to highlight his proposals to improve the fortunes of low- and middle-income Americans. Obama traveled to Wisconsin to discuss the efforts to ensure that training programs match up with the demand for jobs. It was part of a trip that will include a stop in Tennessee to discuss education. The trip is a follow-up to Obama’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday, in which he called for greater economic fairness in a nation that is still recovering from the deep 2007-09 recession…”
  • Going back to college at 50, and why it’s a dream come true, By Luisa Deprez and Sandy Butler, January 24, 2014, Bangor Daily News: “When she graduated from Mount Desert Island High School in 1981, Kaloe ‘Kay’ Haslam was the first in her family to earn a high school degree. She took ‘business’ and ‘general’ classes rather than ‘college-bound’ courses. She had no aspirations to go to college, nor was she encouraged. ‘I never thought I could afford it,’ she said. ‘I was one of three in a single-parent family. It was like, ‘This isn’t anything I can afford to do.’ I basically just went to work.’ Her dream at the time was to work in an office. ‘I didn’t even care what I was doing in an office,’ she said. ‘I just wanted to work in an office.’ But living in a high-tourism area, office jobs were not widely available…”
  • Unemployment benefits dominate the agenda, By Ed O’Keefe, January 31, 2014, Washington Post: “Stephanie Ransom is 30, single and the mother of a 3-year-old girl. She has thousands of dollars in credit-card debt and suffers from a rare thoracic disorder that causes severe pain in her neck and shoulders. Last July, Ransom lost the job she’d had for nine years at a parts manufacturer in Walworth, Wis., and has not been able to find another one. That prolonged joblessness has become the defining feature of her life…”

Early Childhood Education

Lessons for de Blasio in New Jersey’s fee pre-K, By Javier C. Hernández, January 26, 2014, New York Times: “Teddy Lin’s teachers were worried. For the first few weeks of preschool, Teddy, a 3-year-old Chinese immigrant, cried nearly every day. While his classmates recited stories in English about dogs and elephants, he talked in Mandarin. Some days, he sat quietly and refused to play. His teachers responded with a radical plan. They began learning Mandarin, tutored his parents in reading, and paired Teddy with older classmates to teach him about topics like woodland animals. Within a few months, Teddy was performing on a par with his peers. Officials across the country, including Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York, are looking to efforts like those in New Jersey as they seek to broaden access to free, full-day prekindergarten…”

States and All-Day Kindergarten

Pushing full-day kindergarten, By Adrienne Lu, January 13, 2014, Stateline: “In the not too distant past, kindergarten was a place where children learned to color, share and play. But a higher regard for kindergarten is emerging, including a move toward all-day sessions in some states, as a growing body of research underscores the importance of learning in the earliest years. The percentage of kindergartners attending full-day programs has grown from about 10 percent in the 1970s to about 76 percent in 2012, with a steep increase between 2002 and 2006, according to Child Trends, a nonprofit research center. While some programs took a hit during the recession, several states have taken action recently to expand access to full-day kindergarten. Part-day kindergarten typically last two or three hours, while full-day kindergarten can range from four to seven hours…”