Education Savings Accounts

This innovative idea is helping low-income families save for college, By Jillian Berman, September 2, 2015, MarketWatch: “When he was a first-grader, Emily Gardner’s 8-year-old son Elijah Peters told her he wasn’t interested in college. He dreamed of becoming a handyman like his father instead. She signed him up for a college savings plan anyway. Now she’s glad she did. After a field trip to Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind., where Elijah held a pig’s heart and used Mentos to create an explosion in a bottle of Diet Coke, he began depositing his birthday and Christmas money into the account and asking his grandparents to help him save even more. ‘Just to hear that from a child who said ‘I’m not going to college,’ it is fantastic,’ said Gardner, 31, of Wabash, Ind., where she is director of the city’s downtown economic and community development program…”

School Breakfast Programs

Schools use creative measures to serve breakfast to more students, By Yvonne Wenger, August 27, 2015, Baltimore Sun: “Waving her hands above her head, Kelly Leschefsky shouted over the morning rush at Perry Hall High School: ‘Come and grab your breakfast and take it to your classroom!’ A steady stream of students picked up cereal, cartons of orange juice, cinnamon rolls, bottles of milk and Pop-Tarts before the morning bell, entered their ID numbers on a keypad and headed to class. Some won’t actually pay, but that’s not apparent at the checkout line. The ‘Grab n’ Go’ carts at Perry Hall and elsewhere — at which the ID payment system keeps students from seeing whether their peers are buying the food or getting it free — are among several efforts statewide to ensure that more low-income children eat breakfast…”

Homeless College Students

How to help the students with no homes?, By Kelly Field, August 24, 2015, Chronicle of Higher Education: “The scars on Christine Banjo’s arms are still there — faint marks from the bed bugs that bit her when her family was living in a motel room during her high-school years. ‘Battle wounds,’ she calls them: a faded but constant reminder that the college junior has been chronically homeless since she was 7. During the school year, Ms. Banjo, who is 20, lives in the dorms at Norfolk State University. But on summer vacation and during other breaks, she has no set place to go. There’s no room for her in the rooming house where her parents live, so she crashes with friends or sublets space in a cramped apartment. Most days, her only meal is the sandwich and fries she gets during her shift at McDonald’s. She returns there on her days off just to have something to eat…”

Community Scholarship – Michigan

Report: How one poor, rural Michigan town is sending ‘all its kids to college’, By Brian McVicar, August 19, 2015, Grand Rapids Press: “Baldwin, a small community in rural Lake County, is making national headlines after The Atlantic took an in-depth look at a community scholarship that aims to send every high school graduate, many of whom are low-income, to college. The piece tells the story of the Baldwin Promise, which provides up to $5,000 per-year for students to attend college, and the big impact the fund is having not only on college access, but on changing the community’s perception of higher education…”

School Gardens

School gardens help fruit, vegetables to flourish in low-income food deserts, By Sanya Mansoor, August 10, 2015, Christian Science Monitor: “Green classrooms, incorporated into high school curricula, have sprouted nationwide to educate teenagers about nutrition and include them in community gardening. Participating students invest their time and energy in providing their neighborhoods with ready access to healthy and affordable food. As a result, they may also improve academic performance and engagement at school and pass on their knowledge and habits to their families…”

AP Test Support for Low-Income Students

Education Department awards grants to defray costs of AP tests, By Lauren Camera, August 12, 2015, Education Week: “In a push to prepare more low-income students for college or a career, the U.S. Department of Education Wednesday awarded $28.4 million in grants to help defray the cost of taking advanced placement (AP) tests…”

College Students and Food Insecurity

Rise in college food banks linked to the economy and campus demographics, By Jason Song, August 3, 2015, Los Angeles Times: “For years, the food bank at Michigan State University was one of the few, if not the only, such organizations in the country. By 2008, only four other groups offered college students free meals. But as the economy continued to sink, Michigan State began to get a lot of company. There are now 199 similar groups throughout the country, according to the College and University Food Bank Alliance, including food pantries at UC Berkeley and UCLA. The California State University system is conducting a study to determine the number of students on its campuses who do not have regular sources of food and housing. And one student is attempting to convince vendors and restaurants at Santa Monica College to accept food stamps.

Low-Income Students and College Readiness

ACT report: College readiness remains flat among low-income students, By Andrew Phillips, July 22, 2015, The Gazette: “The percentage of low-income students who met college-readiness benchmarks on the ACT exam last year remained flat from the year before, according to a report released this week by ACT Inc. and a national education group. The report includes data from students nationwide in the high school graduating class of 2014 who took the ACT exam. It was released Monday by ACT Inc., the Iowa City-based testing company, and the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships…”

Measuring Poverty in Schools

To measure poverty, states look beyond free lunch, By Amy Scott, June 23, 2015, Marketplace: “For years, the federal school meals program has been one of the most powerful forces in education. Not just because it feeds kids, but because the percentage of students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals has been the main way schools measure poverty. That number, in turn, can impact everything from school funding levels to accountability programs.  But that’s changing. Massachusetts has introduced a new way of measuring poverty in its schools…”

Early Childhood Education

The education gap among America’s youngest students, By Aimee Picchi, June 17, 2015, CBS News: “An education disaster is in the making, and it’s starting before children even reach kindergarten. Poor American kids are arriving at kindergarten with lagging academic and ‘noncognitive skills,’ such as self-control and approaches to learning, when compared with children of high-income families, according to a new report from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. Those education gaps have grown increasingly noticeable in more recent generations, which may be due to demographic shifts in the American population, such as more children being born into poverty and more growing up in single-parent households…”

Foster Children and High School Graduation – California

In Hollywood, foster care students try to finish high school, By Christine Armario (AP), June 6, 2015, San Jose Mercury News: “Tucked below the Hollywood sign, on a street where tourists stop to pose for pictures, is Beachwood House, a pale blue two-story home for foster kids without one. It’s known as the place you go if you are good.  There is no high-security, gated entrance. No 24-hour psychiatrist on staff. Instead, teenagers considered stable and who haven’t been adopted or placed in a suitable individual home get the sort of care a mom or dad might provide: Allowances, tutors and transportation to school…”

Early Childhood Education

Programs aim to boost preschool educations for low-income children, By Teresa Watanabe, May 26, 2015, Los Angeles Times: “In the isolated desert town of Lake Los Angeles, Maria Olegine visits one home after another, bringing life-changing information to mothers and their young children. In one home last month, she greeted 11-month-old Angie Rios with wide smiles and high fives. ‘Helloooo Angie! Cinco, five!’ She gave Angie a fabric house, a toy horse and bright stackable plastic donuts, keeping up a running patter of vocabulary and complete sentences. ‘This is a little house. Tengo un caballo. I have a little horsey!’  Angie’s mother, Maria Delfina Zuniga, said Olegine’s lessons on how to develop her child’s vocabulary and motor skills through daily reading and play have made a big difference. Angie has already mastered several words — far ahead of her older children when they were at that age — children she did not regularly read to before kindergarten…”

US Schoolchildren Living in Poverty

One in five U.S. schoolchildren are living below federal poverty line, By Lyndsey Layton, May 28, 2015, Washington Post: “More than one out of every five school-age children in the U.S. were living below the federal poverty line in 2013, according to new federal statistics released Thursday. That amounted to 10.9 million children — or 21 percent of the total — a six percent increase in the childhood poverty rate since 2000…”

Poverty and Academic Achievement

Poverty, family stress are thwarting student success, top teachers say, By Lyndsey Layton, May 19, 2015, Washington Post: “The greatest barriers to school success for K-12 students have little to do with anything that goes on in the classroom, according to the nation’s top teachers: It is family stress, followed by poverty, and learning and psychological problems.  Those were the factors named in a survey of the 2015 state Teachers of the Year, top educators selected annually in every U.S. state and jurisdictions such as the District of Columbia and Guam…”

Homeless College Students

Homeless college students navigate uncertainty, By Ted Gregory, May 18, 2015, Chicago Tribune: “This month, with a mix of anxiety and exhilaration, college students across the country will cram their brains for final exams, then pack their bags for home.  It’s a little different for undergraduates Malachi Hoye and Caprice Manny. They don’t have homes to return to — at least not in the traditional sense. Hoye and Manny are among the estimated 56,000 college students nationwide who are considered homeless.  Those young people are a somewhat broadly defined population that experts say is underreported, gaining more attention and expected to grow. But formal efforts to accommodate homeless college students are relatively new and fragmented: Schools, the federal government, a fledgling national organization — even a pilot project by a Humboldt Park nonprofit — are among the entities trying to solve a complicated challenge…”

US High School Graduation Rate

  • As U.S. grad rate keeps climbing, some students lag behind, By Allie Bidwell, May 12, 2015, US News and World Report: “America is on track to continue recording record-level high school graduation rates in the next five years, but some states are struggling to keep pace even as they make gains each year.   A new report from a coalition of education advocacy groups – America’s Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises, the Everyone Graduates Center and the Alliance for Excellent Education – predicts the country is on pace to reach a 90 percent on-time high school graduation rate by 2020. To get to that national goal – 9 percentage points higher than the most recent rate of 81 percent, an all-time high – the report says the graduating class of 2020 will need to have 310,000 more graduates than the class of 2013…”
  • Oregon hurting nation’s drive to improve high school graduation rates, report says, By Betsy Hammond, May 13, 2015, The Oregonian: “Solid, steady improvements in high school graduation rates around the country have put the United States on track to reach a 90 percent national graduation rate by 2020, a new report says. But the report calls Oregon ‘a laggard,’ with near worst-in-nation rates for almost every category of students. It warns that Oregon, along with three other states with significant Latino populations, “will hold back continued national progress” towards the 90 percent goal.
  • States vary in success at improving high school grad rates, By Kimberley Hefling (AP), May 12, 2015, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “The record high American graduation rate masks large gaps among low income students and those with disabilities compared to their peers.  There are also wide disparities among states in how well they are tackling the issue.  ‘This year, we need to sound a stronger alarm,’ said Gen. Colin Powell and his wife, Alma Powell, in a letter released Tuesday as part of an annual Grad Nation report produced in part by their America’s Promise Alliance organization. The report is based on 2013 rates using federal data, the most recent available…”

School Funding – Connecticut

In suburban schools, student poverty growing faster than education aid, By Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, May 4, 2015, Hartford Courant: “The number of students from poor families attending suburban schools in Connecticut is increasing.  Numerous legislators say these increases justify providing $14.2 million in additional state aid over the next two fiscal years to help several suburban districts cover the cost of educating these high-need students…”

School Food Programs

Schools becoming the ‘last frontier’ for hungry kids, By Marisol Bello, April 5, 2015, USA Today: “America’s schools are no longer just a place for students to learn their ABCs. They are also increasingly where children eat their three squares. The classroom has become a dining room as more children attending public schools live in poverty. More than half of students in public schools — 51% — were in low-income families in 2013, according to a study by the Southern Education Foundation. The number of low-income children in public schools has been persistent and steadily rising over the past several decades. In 1989, 32% of children in public schools lived in poverty, the foundation says…”

Literacy Gap

Literacy gap between Latino and white toddlers starts early, study shows, By Teresa Watanabe, April 2, 2015, Los Angeles Times: “Latino toddlers whose language comprehension is roughly similar to white peers at 9 months old fall significantly behind by the time they are 2, according to a study released Thursday.  The UC Berkeley study found that four-fifths of the nation’s Mexican American toddlers lagged three to five months behind whites in preliteracy skills, oral language and familiarity with print materials. Although earlier studies have shown that Latino children are raised with emotional warmth and develop social skills on par with others when they enter kindergarten, the new research found they are not receiving sufficient language and literacy skills at home, said Bruce Fuller, a UC Berkeley professor of education and public policy and co-author of the study…”