School Breakfast Programs – New Jersey

More than half of low-income children get breakfast in school in NJ, By Diane D’Amico, February 14, 2017, Press of Atlantic City: “Almost 268,000 low-income children in New Jersey got free or reduced-price breakfast in the last school year, a 6 percent increase from the year before, according to a national report. But breakfast is still not readily available to every child eligible to receive it.  The annual School Breakfast Scorecard, released Tuesday by the Food Research and Action Center, shows New Jersey improved its national ranking from 23rd in 2014-15 to 19th in 2015-16…”

Academic Achievement and Poverty – Ohio

Poverty link remains constant in Ohio students’ poor test scores, By Jim Siegel, Sunday October 9, 2016,  Columbus Dispatch: “Changes to state testing and district report cards gave schools plenty of new data to absorb this summer, but one constant remained. Regardless of which tests students are taking or if more districts are seeing D’s or F’s on their report cards, the results continue to show a strong correlation with poverty levels…”

School Funding – Connecticut

In Connecticut, a wealth gap divides neighboring schools, By Elizabeth A. Harris and Kristin Hussey, September 11, 2016, New York Times: “The two Connecticut school districts sit side by side along Long Island Sound. Both spend more than the national average on their students. They prepare their pupils for the same statewide tests. Their teachers, like virtually all the teachers in the state, earn the same high marks on evaluations.  That is where the similarities end: In Fairfield, a mostly white suburb where the median income is $120,000, 94 percent of students graduate from high school on time. In Bridgeport, the state’s most populous and one of its poorest cities, the graduation rate is 63 percent. Fifth graders in Bridgeport, where most people are black or Hispanic, often read at kindergarten level, one of their teachers recently testified during a trial over school funding inequities…”

Chronic School Absenteeism

  • Chronic absenteeism hinders students, By Annysa Johnson, September 6, 2016, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “The overwhelming majority of U.S. school districts — urban, suburban and rural — experience some degree of chronic absenteeism that puts students at academic risk, according to a study released Tuesday.  But half of all chronically absent students are enrolled in 4% of the nation’s school districts and 12% of its schools, including many in Wisconsin. And it disproportionally affects students of color, those who are poor and those diagnosed with learning disabilities…”
  • The long-term consequences of missing school, By Mikhail Zinshteyn, September 6, 2016, The Atlantic: “The precocious teen who’s too cool for school—earning high marks despite skipping class—is a pop-culture standard, the idealized version of an effortless youth for whom success comes easy.  Too bad it’s largely a work of fiction that belies a much harsher reality: Missing just two days a month of school for any reason exposes kids to a cascade of academic setbacks, from lower reading and math scores in the third grade to higher risks of dropping out of high school, research suggests…”

Achievement Gap – Oregon

Oregon test scores Show persistent achievement gaps based on race, income, By Rob Manning, September 8, 2016, Oregon Public Broadcasting: “Standardized test scores released Thursday show Oregon students improved, but only by one percentage point, on average, compared to last year.  The Smarter Balanced exams continue to show enormous achievement gaps based on race…”

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…”

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…”

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…”

Student Homelessness – New York, Minnesota

  • Where nearly half of pupils are homeless, school aims to be teacher, therapist, even Santa, By Elizabeth A. Harris, June 6, 2016, New York Times: “There are supposed to be 27 children in Harold Boyd IV’s second-grade classroom, but how many of them will be there on a given day is anyone’s guess.  Since school began in September, five new students have arrived and eight children have left. Two transferred out in November. One who started in January was gone in April. A boy showed up for a single day in March, and then never came back. Even now, in the twilight of the school year, new students are still arriving, one as recently as mid-May…”
  • Amid recovery, many families struggle with homelessness, By Kristi Marohn, June 4, 2016, St. Cloud Times: “In 2004, then-Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty set an ambitious goal for the state: End homelessness by 2010.  But 12 years later, despite the bold pronouncement, the problem of homelessness continues to plague the state, including the St. Cloud area.  Despite the economic recovery and lower unemployment, Central Minnesota families are still struggling with incomes that have stayed flat since the Great Recession. Meanwhile, a tight rental market has pushed the cost of housing beyond the reach of many…”
  • Child homelessness can have long-term consequences, By Stephanie Dickrell, June 4, 2016, St. Cloud Times: “There are strong moral reasons to end homelessness and its consequences. But there are economic incentives for society as well. Children who grow up in homelessness may experience long-term effects on behavior, employability, relationships and brain development. As those children grow into adulthood, society ends up paying for the consequences through law enforcement, the criminal justice system and social service programs…”
  • Facing summer on an empty stomach, By Vicki Ikeogu, June 4, 2016, St. Cloud Times: “June 2, 2016. The day area school-aged kids could not wait for.  Yearbook signings. No more homework. Freedom.  The last day of school can bring a whirlwind of emotions for students. But for thousands in the St. Cloud school district, summer vacation can mean anxiety. Worry. Hunger.  Because without the breakfast and lunch provided during the school day, many kids are facing a summer filled with limited access to nutritious and filling meals…”

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%…”

School Funding

Why America’s schools have a money problem, April 18, 2016, National Public Radio: “Let’s begin with a choice. Say there’s a check in the mail. It’s meant to help you run your household. You can use it to keep the lights on, the water running and food on the table. Would you rather that check be for $9,794 or $28,639?  It’s not a trick question. It’s the story of America’s schools in two numbers. That $9,794 is how much money the Chicago Ridge School District in Illinois spent per child in 2013 (the number has been adjusted by Education Week to account for regional cost differences). It’s well below that year’s national average of $11,841…”

High-Poverty Schools – Dallas, TX

Dallas ISD to ask city for help integrating high-poverty schools, By Tawnell D. Hobbs and Holly D. Hacker, February 16, 2016, Dallas Morning News: “Dallas ISD wants to try something radical this fall: Open a school where half the kids are poor and half aren’t. It’s radical because the vast majority of DISD schools are high poverty. Campuses with socioeconomic diversity are few and far between. Many middle- and upper-class families have left DISD over the years for private or suburban schools. To succeed, Dallas ISD will have to lure more students from families with more money back to district schools. Research shows that poor children do much better when they learn alongside wealthier peers…”

National School Lunch Program

Obama’s plan to give free lunches to millions more kids, By Roberto A. Ferdman, January 27, 2016, Washington Post: “The Obama administration will announce new plans Wednesday to launch a pilot program aimed at increasing poor children’s access to food through the National School Lunch Program. The pilot program will allow participating states to use Medicaid data to automatically certify students for free and reduced-price school lunches. Currently, families have to submit an application — a laborious process for parents and a costly one for schools — even when they have already proven that they are income-eligible through their participation in other government assistance programs…”

High School Graduation Rate – New York City

New York City’s high school graduation rate tops 70%, By Elizabeth A. Harris, January 11, 2016, New York Times: “As New York State officials met on Monday to consider changes to high school graduation requirements, the state announced that the graduation rate inched up last year, with New York City’s edging above 70 percent for the first time. Despite that increase, white students remained far more likely to receive a diploma than black or Hispanic students. And high school graduation remained out of reach for many students with disabilities…”

Achievement Gap

  • Achievement gap in D.C. starts in infancy, report shows, By Michael Alison Chandler, December 10, 2015, Washington Post: “The District is a national leader in providing universal access to preschool for 4- and 5-year olds, an investment designed to improve school readiness and narrow a a rich-poor achievement gap that is apparent by kindergarten.  But, according to a new report produced by Child Trends and commissioned by the Bainum Family Foundation, the achievement gap starts much earlier — in infancy — and the city isn’t prepared to deal with it…”
  • Black students struggling more in Michigan than other states, according to report, By Jonathan Oosting, December 10, 2015, MLive.com: “African-American students are further behind their peers in Michigan than in most other states, according to a new report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.  African American students are disproportionally impacted by shortcomings in the national education system, according to the report, which points to ongoing struggles to improve outcomes for minority students and close achievement gaps…”
  • Minority students make gains, but achievement gap remains, By Mary Niederberger, December 10, 2015, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “While there has been some improvement in academic achievement among African-American students since the early 1990s, overall performance levels remain critically low nationally, and Pennsylvania’s results fall below national averages. That information was contained in the report ‘The Path Forward: Improving Opportunities For African-American Students,’ released today by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the NAACP…”

National Assessment of Educational Progress

  • Nationwide test shows dip in students’ math abilities, By Motoko Rich, October 28, 2015, New York Times: “For the first time since 1990, the mathematical skills of American students have dropped, according to results of a nationwide test released by the Education Department on Wednesday. The decline appeared in both Grades 4 and 8 in an exam administered every two years as the National Assessment of Educational Progress and sometimes called ‘the nation’s report card.’  The dip in scores comes as the country’s employers demand workers with ever-stronger skills in mathematics to compete in a global economy. It also comes as states grapple with the new Common Core academic standards and a rebellion against them…”
  • U.S. student performance slips on national test, By Emma Brown, October 28, 2015, Washington Post: “Fourth-graders and eighth-graders across the United States lost ground on national mathematics tests this year, the first declines in scores since the federal government began administering the exams in 1990. Reading performance also was sobering: Eighth-grade scores dropped,according to results released Wednesday, while fourth-grade performance was stagnant compared with 2013, the last time students took the test…”

Social Services in Schools – Pittsburgh, PA

  • Schools step up social services in hopes of improving education, By Eleanor Chute, September 6, 2015, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “When Cornell superintendent Aaron Thomas interviews a potential administrator, he wants to know if the candidate will drive a school van. Administrators, including the superintendent, sometimes need to drive a parent to a teacher conference or a child to a doctor appointment.  At Grandview Upper Elementary School in the Highlands School District, it’s not unusual for principal Heather Hauser to find a bag of groceries on her desk, left anonymously by a staff member. The school started a food pantry after a student one Friday said he didn’t have anything to eat at home…”
  • Educators can spot emotional baggage, By Mary Niederberger, September 7, 2015,  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “When Grace Enick, now 25, was in a Christian elementary school, no one noticed her behavior after she was raped in second grade. ‘All I wanted was for someone to ask me what was wrong,’ she said. No one did.  In recent years, educators have become more aware that some students are carrying emotional baggage that can interfere with their ability to learn…”
  • Parents’ involvement at home key for students, educators, By Clarece Polke, September 8, 2015, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “An unlikely catalyst inspired Milton Lopez to go back to school to earn a GED diploma.  Mr. Lopez, now 40, of Coraopolis dropped out of high school in the 11th grade and has worked full time ever since. His young son inspired him to finish his diploma more than a decade after leaving school…”
  • First-generation college students face hurdles, stigmas, By Bill Schackner, September 9, 2015, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Teireik Williams wanted to be like other students at Penn State University, but reminders that he was different were everywhere on the flagship public campus where the cost to attend rivaled his family’s total income. It was obvious to the South Oakland resident whenever he saw students driving cars paid for back home or heard them discuss exotic travel. But his sense of isolation wasn’t simply economic — or exclusively because he is an African-American at a largely white university. Since neither of his parents holds a college degree, he differed from peers in another way: He could not count on advice and reassurance from adults back home who already had been through the academic pressures he was facing…”

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…”

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…”

Summer Meal Programs

Efforts to feed thousands of low-income children barely make a dent in child hunger, By Elisa Crouch, July 24, 2015, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “More than 1.1 million children in Missouri and Illinois qualify for a free or reduced-price lunch during the school year. But when school’s out, the vast majority of them go hungry. It’s a problem that has prompted a number of school districts, public libraries and social service agencies to set up summer feeding sites so that children can be guaranteed at least one or two meals a day. Thousands of children have benefited…”