Career Pathways Program – Arkansas

This welfare reform program could be a model to help impoverished college students, By Danielle Douglas-Gabriel,  August 31, 2016, Washington Post: “When Will Bradford enrolled at Northwest Arkansas Community College in January 2015, it had been 15 years since he had stepped foot in a classroom. He had taken a few college classes after high school but dropped out in a matter of weeks.  ‘I just didn’t have the motivation,’ Bradford, 35, recalls. But with two young boys to care for, getting an education took on a new importance, especially if it meant earning more money. Even with his newfound motivation, Bradford was no less intimidated. ‘I was nervous about how much work would be involved and whether I was overdoing it with a full-time job, but a lot of it was just getting back into the school system,’ he said.  Enter Arkansas Career Pathways Initiative, a program funded by the federal welfare program, known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or TANF, that provides academic and social services to low-income parents attending state community colleges and technical centers…”

High School Graduation Rate – Los Angeles, CA

Crash course in credit recovery yields best-ever graduation rate of 75% for L.A. schools, By Howard Blume and Sonali Kohli, August 10, 2106, Los Angeles Times: “The star of an annual kickoff event for the new school year in Los Angeles was a number: 75%, the highest graduation rate ever tabulated by the nation’s second-largest school system. That achievement, announced by L.A. Unified Supt. Michelle King on Tuesday at Garfield High School, brought acclaim from an audience of administrators and dignitaries, but also led some to wonder again whether such improvement is real.  The milestone represents a breathtaking turnaround between December and June…”

Elite Colleges and Low-Income Students

Wealthy universities are doing a poor job helping low-income students, report says, By Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, August 4, 2016, Washington Post: “The top 4 percent of colleges and universities hold three quarters of all endowment wealth in higher education, yet four in five of those 138 schools expect the neediest families to hand over more than 60 percent of their income to cover the cost of attendance, according to a report released Thursday by the Education Trust…”

Childhood Literacy

Where books are all but nonexistent, By Alia Wong, July 14, 2016, The Atlantic: “Forty-five million. That’s how many words a typical child in a white-collar familywill hear before age 4. The number is striking, not because it’s a lot of words for such a small human—the vast majority of a person’s neural connections, after all,are formed by age 3—but because of how it stacks up against a poor kid’s exposure to vocabulary. By the time she’s 4, a child on welfare might only have heard 13 million words.  This disparity is well-documented. It’s the subject of myriad news stories and government programs, as well as the Clinton Foundation’s ‘Too Small to Fail’ initiative, all of which send the message that low-income parents should talk and read to their children more. But these efforts to close the ‘word gap’ often overlook a fundamental problem. In high-poverty neighborhoods, books—the very things that could supply so many of those 30 million-plus words—are hard to come by. In many poor homes, they’re nonexistent…”

Student Homelessness in Madison, WI

Shelter to school: For homeless 6-year-old, kindergarten provides stability in an otherwise chaotic life, By Doug Erickson and Dean Mosiman, July 17, 2016, Wisconsin State Journal: “Six-year-old K’won Watson cries as his mother rouses him at the Salvation Army homeless shelter in Madison. He had wanted more sleep and will spend much of the school day yawning.  It is March, and K’won is in kindergarten — one of the hundreds of students who are homeless in Madison on any given day.  He and his infant brother, Amir, and their mother, Alicia Turner, 25, are living at the shelter in a dormitory-style room that is clean but spare. To add some warmth, Turner has decorated the door with three drawings she’s done with colored markers — two of butterflies, one of a fruit basket.  Like his older brother, Amir wakes up cranky, too. Turner changes his diaper while sending K’won to brush his teeth in restrooms shared by 18 families…”

College Students and Food Insecurity

Four in 10 UC students do not have a consistent source of high-quality, nutritious food, survey says, By Teresa Watanabe and Shane Newell, July 13, 2016, Los Angeles Times: “UC Irvine student Chris Tafoya admits that he’s often hungry and doesn’t eat the nutritious foods he should. On his worst days, the 20-year-old Los Angeles native said he would simply go to sleep early to quiet the hunger pangs.  Other times, he would eat instant ramen for breakfast, lunch and dinner. No matter that each serving is packed with sodium and fat; at less than 50 cents each, it was affordable for Tafoya, who has balked at asking his low-income relatives for help…”

 

Community Colleges and Federal Student Loans

The surprising number of community college students without access to federal student loans, By Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, July 1, 2016, Washington Post: “A growing number of community colleges are exiting the federal student loan program, leaving nearly a million students without access to low-cost options to pay for school, according to a new study from the Institute for College Access and Success.  The advocacy group found that nearly 1 in 10 community college students in 32 states have no access to federal student loans. Nearly half of these students are in California or North Carolina. In eight states, including Alaska, Alabama and Louisiana, more than 20 percent of students attend schools that have opted out of the federal government’s student loan program…”

Pell Grant Program for Prisoners

12,000 inmates to receive Pell grants to take college classes, By Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, June 24, 2016, Washington Post: “As many as 12,000 prison inmates will be able to use federal Pell grants to finance college classes next month, despite a 22-year congressional ban on providing financial aid to prisoners.  The Obama administration selected 67 colleges and universities Thursday for the Second Chance Pell Pilot Program, an experiment to help prisoners earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree while incarcerated. The schools will work with more than 100 federal and state penitentiaries to enroll inmates who qualify for Pell, a form of federal aid that covers tuition, books and fees for college students with financial need. Prisoners must be eligible for release within five years of enrolling in coursework…”

Homelessness and Food Insecurity Among College Students

  • Cal State University looks to stem homelessness, hunger among students, By Josh Dulaney, June 21, 2016, Long Beach Press Telegram: “On the heels of a report showing close to one in 10 Cal State University students are homeless or face housing instability, officials met this week in Long Beach to come up with solutions to help students. ‘I think we’re going to start getting some greater awareness across this country because of Cal State — because of our size and importance — is raising this issue across the nation, and we’re not alone in doing so,’ Chancellor Timothy P. White said at the outset of the two-day meeting at the Chancellor’s Office…”
  • Food pantries address a growing hunger problem at colleges, By Stephanie Saul, June 22, 2016, New York Times: “Tucked away in a discreet office atBrooklyn College’s Student Center, beyond the pool tables and wide-screen TVs where her classmates congregate, Rebecca Harmata discovered a lifeline.  A psychology major who works in a doctor’s office to pay for her education, Ms. Harmata describes a break-even, paycheck-to-paycheck existence, with little left over for luxuries — or even for food.  So when she saw a sign last fall advertising the school’s new free food pantry, she decided to take advantage…”

Schools Districts and Students in Foster Care

How children in foster care could benefit from the new federal education law, By Emma Brown, June 23, 2016, Washington Post: “The Obama administration on Thursday released new guidance explaining what states and school districts must do to meet new legal obligations to students in foster care, who are often among the nation’s most vulnerable children. For the first time, schools, districts and states must publicly report on the performance of children in foster care, a requirement that advocates hope will help shine a light on the need for more attention and help…”

Racial Achievement Gap – Iowa, Kentucky

  • Preschool — The solution to black achievement gap?, By Mackenzie Ryan, May 23, 2016, Des Moines Register: “It’s mid-morning, and Evevett Fugate has been up all night. After clocking out of her overnight McDonald’s shift at 6 a.m. and returning home, she readies her four children for school, making sure the oldest three catch the bus in the morning. She takes her youngest, Ovalia, to preschool class for 4-year-olds, then picks her up at 11 a.m.  Although Fugate’s overnight work allows her to attend school activities, she has enrolled Ovalia in early childhood programs since age 2 because she knows how vital is it for children to get an early jump on kindergarten, whether it be learning letters or picking up social skills…”
  • Despite advances, racial achievement gap widens, By Luba Ostashevsky, May 23, 2016, Louisville Courier-Journal: “The second-graders in Sarah Bowling’s class at Dunn Elementary were on a mathematical scavenger hunt. Students cradling clipboards moved around the room matching groupings of things and learning the concept that three groups of five things total the same as five groups of three things. In the middle of the room,  three students received individualized instruction because they had fallen short of academic expectations. While Dunn has students of all skill levels, there remains a gap in student achievement, particularly between the school’s African-American students and the rest of the students. Such gaps were a major consideration for state educational leaders more than five years ago, when Kentucky became the first state to adopt the Common Core…”

Schools and Child Poverty – Cincinnati, OH

  • ‘This is a crisis’: Suburban poverty growing, school lunch data shows, By Emilie Eaton, May 21, 2016, Cincinnati Enquirer: “In 10 years, Chris Burkhardt has seen a dramatic spike in school lunch program participation. It’s a double-edged sword, he says. On one hand, the program guarantees kids are receiving nutritious meals that help them succeed in the classroom. On the other hand, many students aren’t receiving those same nutritious meals at home. ‘We’re happy folks are utilizing the program, but it’s difficult knowing families can’t provide fruits and vegetables at home,’ said Burkhardt, director of child nutrition at Lakota Local Schools.  In 2015, roughly 3,800 students in Lakota Local Schools received a meal through the school lunch program, a federal program that provides free or discounted lunch to students whose families live in or near poverty…”
  • What is CPS doing to combat poverty?, By Emilie Eaton, May 23, 2016, Cincinnati Enquirer: “The kids steadily trickle into the lunch room here, grabbing a tray before picking out an entree, a vegetable, a fruit and a snack. BBQ beef on a bun? Peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Shredded chicken salad? Green beans? Celery? No complaints here. These kids want it all. ‘This is their opportunity to get five fruits and vegetables a day,’ said Principal Belinda Tubbs-Wallace. ‘Some of them don’t get that at home.’  This is Rockdale Academy, where all 402 students receive a free lunch under the school lunch program, a national program that provides a free or discounted lunch to students living below or near the federal poverty level…”

School Segregation in the US

  • On the anniversary of Brown v. Board, new evidence that U.S. schools are resegregating, By Emma Brown, May 17, 2016, Washington Post: “Poor, black and Hispanic children are becoming increasingly isolated from their white, affluent peers in the nation’s public schools, according to new federal data showing that the number of high-poverty schools serving primarily black and brown students more than doubled between 2001 and 2014. The data was released by the Government Accountability Office on Tuesday, 62 years to the day after the Supreme Court decided that segregated schools are ‘inherently unequal’ and therefore unconstitutional…”
  • GAO study: Segregation worsening in U.S. schools, By Greg Toppo, May 17, 2016, USA Today: “America’s public schools – 62 years after the Supreme Court’s historic Brown v. Board of Education decision – are increasingly segregated by race and class, according to new findings by Congress’ watchdog agency that echo what advocates for low-income and minority students have said for years.  U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigators found that from the 2000-2001 to the 2013-2014 school year, both the percentage of K-12 public schools in high-poverty and the percentage comprised of mostly African-American or Hispanic students grew significantly, more than doubling, from 7,009 schools to 15,089 schools. The percentage of all schools with so-called racial or socio-economic isolation grew from 9% to 16%…”

Pell Grants for High School Students in College Courses

Low-income high schoolers to get grants for college courses, By Jennifer C. Kerr (AP), May 17, 2016, San Jose Mercury News: “For the first time, thousands of low-income high-school students in nearly two dozen states will soon be able to get federal grants to take college courses for credit, part of a program the Obama administration plans to begin this summer.  The experimental program allows high school students to apply for federal Pell grant money to pay for college courses. The ‘dual enrollment’ program is designed to help students from lower-income backgrounds…”

State Community College Affordability

The student debt crisis at state community colleges, By Sophie Quinton, May 10, 2016, Stateline: “Community colleges charge lower tuition than just about anywhere else. They’re open to everyone. They offer the kind of technical training employers want. And they can serve as an affordable steppingstone to a four-year degree. As President Barack Obama said in the fall: ‘They’re at the heart of the American Dream.’  But while plenty of community college students graduate with a degree that leads to a better job, or to a four-year college, many community college students drop out. And a growing number of students are taking on debt they cannot repay…”

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…”