Covering poverty and education– by Jeff Jordan
(Note: Some of the examples in this tutorial are based in Georgia, where this site was created. That said, virtually all of the advice is based on county-level data that is applicable to and available in every U.S. state.)
Why you should cover poverty and education in your community:
- Poverty is both a cause and effect of insufficient access to quality education. A 2003 study sponsored by the National Center for Children in Poverty found that in families whose income falls below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Line children score far below average on reading, math and general knowledge tests. A lack of education perpetuates poverty and breaking this cycle is key to overcoming persistent poverty in Georgia. Data suggest that poverty affects increases the likelihood a student will not graduate high school and will miss more days of school than his or her more affluent counterpart. Extremely low graduation rates plague many Southern states as well as cities with large low-income or minority populations
- Education is directly related to the ability to earn enough to stay out of poverty. From 2008 Georgia Wage Survey Annual earnings High school dropout $22,100 High school graduate 29,500 Post High school 41,700 College graduate 59,000 Lifetime earnings High school dropout $ 884,000 High school graduate 1,180,000 Post High school 1,668,000 College graduate 2,360,000
- The quality of people in your work force is a fundamental factor behind economic growth. Low education levels discourage new investments in a county and poverty persists.
- Young children from low-income families score significantly lower on literacy and math assessments before starting kindergarten. The gap persists as students progress through school. Before kindergarten, the average cognitive scores of children from the highest socioeconomic group are 60 percent above those from lowest. The gaps in reading and math performance between African American and Hispanic students and white and Asian are two grade levels.
- Teachers and officials in school systems struggle to see past the poverty of low-income students. This creates disadvantages for poor students.
- Families living in poverty tend to be less involved with their children's school activities.
- The higher the individual's education, the more job benefits that become available. Almost 95 percent of people with college degrees have employer-provided health care compared with 77 percent for high school-level employees and 67 percent for high school dropouts.
- Thirty percent of children do not graduate from high school. These children are more likely to go to prison or enroll in welfare programs. They cause a financial burden on society in lost tax revenue, increased health care costs, food stamps, subsidized housing and public assistance.
- In 2004, nearly 600,000 18-year-olds failed to graduate high school. Had these students advanced one grade further, then about $2.3 billion would have been saved in taxpayer-funded medical care over one lifetime.
- If the high school graduation rate increased by 1 percent for men ages 20 to 60, then the United States would save as much as $1.4 billion each year in reduced costs from crime.
- Affluent students in high-poverty schools score lower on reading tests than poor students in mostly middle-class schools. Test scores for all students— regardless of the level of family poverty—drop in a school where half or more of the students are eligible for subsidized lunch. When more than three quarters of the students live in low-income households, scores drop significantly.
- In a study by the Education Trust, data confirm that the best predictor of a school's achievement scores is the race and wealth of its student body. The Trust also found that in majority white Illinois schools poor teachers are rare. Only 11 percent of teachers scored in the lower quartile. Schools populated mostly by minority students contained 88 percent of teachers who earned poor marks for teaching quality.
- Students from low-income households are more likely to quit school. Multiple studies show that socioeconomic status is a significant predictor of potential dropouts. Studies have found that students in low-income homes were three times more likely to drop out than those from average-income homes and nine times more likely than students from high-income homes.
- Poverty in any community can lead to: Family involvement in schools problems Learning problems Graduation problems Work force problems Teaching problems Attendance problems School problems Resource problems Testing problems Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) problems