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…”

Consumer Debt Loads

How debt loads are changing for young and old consumers, By Jonnelle Marte, October 8, 2014, Washington Post: “The kind of debt consumers take on is changing. And the changes look very different by age, according to a TransUnion report released Wednesday that looks at the shifting make up of consumer debt loads over time. Not surprisingly, younger consumers are seeing student loans crowd out most other types of loans, says Charlie Wise, vice president in TransUnion’s Innovative Solutions Group. For instance, student loans accounted for 36.8 percent of the total debt load for consumers ages 20 to 29 in 2014, up from the 12.9 percent reported in 2005…”

Achievement Gap – Wisconsin

Schools share best practices to close achievement gaps, By Erin Richards and Kelly Meyerhofer, September 25, 2014, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “In a move aimed at closing Wisconsin’s persistent achievement gaps — especially between white students and those of color — state Superintendent Tony Evers on Thursday announced a set of “what works” strategies collected from schools around the state. But the new report was only part of the message on achievement gaps that Evers wanted to get across in Madison on Thursday during his annual State of Education address. The more controversial part: Evers says Wisconsin’s predominantly white, middle-class teachers need to dramatically change what they’re doing to better help black and Hispanic children succeed…”

Student Homelessness in the US

  • Record number of homeless children enrolled in US public schools, By Amanda Paulson, September 23, 2014, Christian Science Monitor: “A record number of homeless students were enrolled in US public schools last year, according to new numbers released Monday by the Department of Education. The data – which most experts say underreport the actual number of homeless children in America – showed that nearly 1.3 million homeless children and teens were enrolled in schools in the 2012-13 school year, an 8 percent increase from the previous school year…”
  • Record number of public school students nationwide are homeless, By Lyndsey Layton, September 22, 2014, Washington Post: “A record number of homeless children and teens were enrolled in public school last year, according to data released Monday by the federal government. Elementary and secondary schools reported that 1.3 million students were homeless during the 2012-2013 year, an 8 percent jump from the prior year. Most of those students — 75 percent — were living doubled up in the home of a friend or a relative, according to the government. Sixteen percent were living in homeless shelters, 6 percent in hotels or motels, and 3 percent had no shelter…”

Foster Youth and High School Graduation

Colorado foster care youth less likely to graduate than homeless kids, By Eric Gorski, September 14, 2014, Denver Post: “Each morning before school, Latisha Alvarado Barrington and her younger brother packed an extra set of clothes in their backpacks because they were unsure where they would sleep that night. Often, they would not want to go at all for fear of being taken again. Latisha guarded her identity as a foster child. She was fearful of the stigma as she bounced among a dozen placements, at times because her foster parents thought she was too much to handle. The despair of falling behind caused her to lay her head on the desk and think of school as pointless. Public officials and child advocates in Colorado have long known that students in foster care lag behind academically but have lacked the data to quantify it, a necessary step for finding solutions…”

State-Level Income Inequality

  • Income inequality last year rose in 15 states, By Niraj Chokshi, September 18, 2014, Washington Post: “The nation became more unequal last year. The Gini Index, a measure of income inequality, was higher, in a statistically significant way, in 2013 than in 2012, rising from 0.476 to 0.481, according to a new Census Bureau report. A score of zero suggests perfect equality where all households have equal income, while a score of one suggests perfect inequality, where one household has it all, and the rest have none. Alaska was the only state to see its Gini Index score decline…”
  • Income inequality is hurting state tax revenue, report says, By Josh Boak (AP), September 15, 2014, Washington Post: “Income inequality is taking a toll on state governments. The widening gap between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else has been matched by a slowdown in state tax revenue, according to a report being released Monday by Standard & Poor’s. Even as income has accelerated for the affluent, it has barely kept pace with inflation for most other people. That trend can mean a double whammy for states: The wealthy often manage to shield much of their income from taxes. And they tend to spend less of it than others do, thereby limiting sales tax revenue. As the growth of tax revenue has slowed, states have faced tensions over whether to raise taxes or cut spending to balance their budgets as required by law…”
  • Income inequality: States struggle to balance budgets as rich-poor gap widens, By Mark Trumbull, September 15, 2014, Christian Science Monitor: “A widening gap in incomes between the rich and the middle class may be hitting US states where it hurts – making it harder for them to raise the tax revenue they need for balancing their budgets. This conclusion, reached in a report released Monday by Standard & Poor’s, comes at a time when states across America are still struggling to rebuild their revenue streams more than five years after the end of a historically deep recession…”

Inequality and the Education System

A simple equation: more education = more income, By Eduardo Porter, September 10, 2014, New York Times: “Imagine if the United States government taxed the nation’s one-percenters so that their post-tax share of the nation’s income remained at 10 percent, roughly where it was in 1979. If the excess money were distributed equally among the rest of the population, in 2012 every family below that very top tier would have gotten a $7,105 check. This is hardly trivial money. But it pales compared to the gap between the wages of a family of two college graduates and a family of high school graduates. Between 1979 and 2012, that gap grew by some $30,000, after inflation…”

Student Loan Debt and Black Students

It’s hardest for black students to get the financial benefits of college, By Natalie Kitroeff, September 2, 2014, Bloomberg BusinessWeek: “Black students rely more on student loans to pay for college than other racial groups and they’re less likely to pay off the debt, according to a study released today. The research was presented at a conference on higher education and minorities in Washington, D.C., hosted by the University of California, Los Angeles, Civil Rights Project. “Student debt today has a color,” said Sara Goldrick-Rab, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and the study’s lead author, at the conference. Most of the people who borrow for their education are white, Goldrick-Rab said, but a larger share of black students and are in debt than any other racial group…”