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Child Poverty in the United States and Test Scores…

June 5, 2011

Fact 9 image is missing

This chart above comes from the Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality.  I found it to be interesting because the United States and the test scores of our students are always compared to Finland, Norway, Sweden, and some Asian nations such as Singapore (which isn’t even listed on this chart).  When you look at the level of poverty of students living in the United States you start to get a sense of what we are up against as a nation.

Don’t just take my word for it, here is an article from In These Times which should help in your understanding of the issue.  Diane Ravitch has been trying to point this out for some time, but real main stream news publications still seem to be infatuated with the “reform movement.”  From the article:

Nonetheless, the combined PR clout of the Gates, Broad, and Walton foundations has generated a massive wave of favorable publicity for their crusade against what Ravitch called “the Bad Teacher Syndrome. This included a cover story in Newsweek, a weeklong series on NBC that “celebrated privatization and scapegoating teachers,” as Ravitch put it, and two segments of Oprah devoted to discussing Waiting for Superman, which Ravitch called a badly-biased documentary.

All of these high-profile attacks on teachers, their unions, and union-won rights avoid the real causes of poor school performance. “Most of the nations that the US is comparing itself with have much lower rates of poverty among their children. It’s 20% nationally here, and I know it’s much higher in this community.” (32 percent of children in Milwaukee are poor.)

“Poor performance is mostly due to poverty and racial isolation,” Raitch said. Barkan further illuminated this point in Dissent:

The most recent results (2006) showed the following: students in US schools where the poverty rate was less than 10% ranked first in reading, first in science, and third in math. But as the poverty rate rose till higher, students ranked lower and lower.

Twenty percent of all U.S. schools have poverty rates over 75%. The problem is not public schools; it is poverty.

And as dozens of studies have shown, the gap in cognitive, physical, and social development between children in poverty and middle-class children is set by age three.

It is an ideological battle that is being fought here.  As the US has embarked on a path to reward the rich since Ronald Reagan took office by cutting their taxes and shifting the burden from them onto middle and lower class families poverty rates have risen.  This needs to change.


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  1. Bonita Ford permalink

    I totally agree. How is it possible that the number one country in the world (or so it claims) has more than one fifth of its children living in poverty? This is truly shameful.

  2. Even more shameful is that the group of politicians that we have in office today will make the problem worse, not better. Teachers need to get very active politically on this issue.

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