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…”

Top Colleges and Low-Income Students

Why many smart, low-income students don’t apply to elite schools, By Shereen Marisol Meraji, March 16, 2015, Minnesota Public Radio: “Right now, high school seniors across the country are trying hard not to think about what is — or isn’t — coming in the mail.  They’re anxiously awaiting acceptance letters (or the opposite) from their top-choice colleges and universities. But this story isn’t about them. It’s about a big group of seniors who could get into great schools but don’t apply: high-achieving students from low-income families who live outside of America’s big cities.  These students often wind up in community college or mediocre four-year schools. It’s a phenomenon known in education circles as ‘undermatching.’  Why does it happen..?”

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…”