Blog: Poverty

The High Stakes of Child Poverty

I met Amber at a tutoring program for inner city children. It was 1966, my senior year in high school, and the war on poverty was on, a war we’ve failed to win.
At nine years old Amber looked like a scarecrow, an old scarecrow at that, bird-picked, weather beaten. She was stick thin. None of her clothes fit, hand-me-downs from her sister Bunny who quickly outgrew her clothes while her younger sister didn’t seem to grow at all. Her eyes were dark circled; her hair, straw and falling out.
Saturday mornings she was one of the first kids through the church basement doors. My friends and I weren’t naïve. We knew that that gaggle of children who showed up each week wasn’t there for the mandatory hour of instruction. They put up with our drilling them on the timestables or helping them parse a paragraph. They were really there for the cookies and milk, and the tables spread with art supplies and games. It wasn’t until years later that I realized that they may have been just as eager for our attention, our reliability, and perhaps even our youthful faith in the future as for those treats.
I worked with Amber all that year. She didn’t progress much. But that didn’t seem to matter. She was always there. Besides, there was something else going on: I was being tutored in what poverty was really all about.

Child Well-Being Report Paints Picture of Struggling Families and Kids

At Early Ed Watch, you usually find us writing about education policy. But as we have often written, education is most powerful when it is combined with high-quality health care, parenting, child care, and nutrition. Education is most powerful when it is combined with high-quality health care, parenting, child care, and nutrition. Last week, the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, a 22-agency team that collects and reports data on child and family welfare, released a new report, “America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being.”
The report highlights some shifts in child well-being indicators and metrics, many of which carry implications for education policy. According to the report, there were 73.9 million children in the United States in 2011 -- up from 1.5 million kids in 2000. Of those, 24.3 million were aged 0 to 5. That means children make up almost a quarter of the population, and very young children make up nearly 8 percent.

Topics: No bio box, Poverty

The Dramatic Effects of Chronic Absenteeism

You have to be in school to do well in school. This is the primary takeaway from the recently released report, titled "The Importance of Being There: A Report on Absenteeism in the Nation's Public Schools," authored by Robert Balfanz and Vaughan Byrnes. Balfanz and Byrnes estimate that between 5 and 7.5 million students are not attending school regularly. This means up to 7.5 million students miss ten percent or more of the school year or missed over a month of school days during the previous school year.
The data collected in this report shows that one group in particular is more vulnerable to becoming chronically absent. While gender and location did not play substantial roles in the rates of chronic absenteeism, poverty impacted chronic absenteeism more than any other characteristic. Not only are children living in poverty the most likely students to become chronically absent, but those are also the children who benefit most from education, as education is one of the most effective strategies to provide a path out of poverty.