Connecticut: Poverty in the state with the highest per capita income

Connecticut Children living in Poverty

  • CT 2001          10.2% live in poverty (82,000)

  • CT 2012:        14.8% live in poverty (117,000)

According to a study conducted by Connecticut Voices for Children, the independent research and advocacy organization, “At the start of the Great Recession, Connecticut experienced the largest increase in child poverty of any state in the nation, rising from 7.9% in 2007 to 9.3% in 2008.  Data from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey show that the official end of the Great Recession has had no real impact for the most vulnerable children in our state, who experienced a net increase in poverty from 2008 to 2012.

In fact, the number of children living in poverty has grown by almost 20% since 2008.

Just over a decade ago, Connecticut set an official policy goal of reducing child poverty by 50% over the next ten years.  Instead, child poverty has grown by nearly 50% since 2001.

n  Child poverty is the highest in our state’s urban areas: Hartford (53.1%), Waterbury (40.0%), New Haven (37.9%), Bridgeport (37.6%), New Britain (31.0%), Norwalk (13.0%), Danbury (11.0%) and Stamford (9.7%)

n  At 53.1%, Hartford has the highest child poverty rate of any city with a population of over 100,000 in the United States.

The prevalence of poverty among children varies significantly along racial and ethnic lines;

  • White children living in poverty in Connecticut = 5.8%
  • African American children living in poverty in Connecticut = 24%
  • Hispanic children living in poverty in Connecticut = 28%

Note that in 2012, the federal poverty threshold was $23,283 for a two-parent household with two children.

What does this data mean when it comes to improving academic performance in our state’s public schools?

Considering poverty, language barriers and the need for special education services are the three most important factors that influence standardized test scores; there can be no fundamental success when it comes to closing the “achievement gap” and “turning around” standardized test scores in Connecticut until we successfully confront that monumental influence that poverty is having on our children and their schools.

If so-called education advocates aren’t talking about combatting poverty and providing all poorer schools with the resources needed to help children overcome the effects of poverty then they aren’t true education advocates.

With well over 300-400 schools in “Alliance Districts,” (that is districts that are facing the greatest challenges); the solution is not cherry-picking 8-10 schools to become guinea pigs in the Commissioner’s Network experiment.

Instead, the Governor and General Assembly should be instituting systemic changes that ensure the State of Connecticut, and especially the State Department of Education, provide the resources and support necessary to help all the children in those Alliance Districts.

The policies being pushed by Governor Malloy and Commissioner Stefan Pryor are exactly the wrong solution for the very real problem facing many of our state’s school districts and the children that these districts have a constitutional obligation to serve.

Connecticut must re-do its education funding formula and develop real and effective teacher professional development programs rather than rely on the absurd notion that you can use test scores to force teachers out of the teaching profession and pummel those teachers who decide to remain.

Recognizing and accepting reality is the first step towards developing a solution.

And recognizing and accepting reality begins with the understanding that Connecticut, the state with the highest per capita income in the country is facing a major poverty crisis.

You can read more about the extremely disturbing trend in Connecticut at:


  • buygoldandprosper

    Dan Malloy’s solution to the problem?
    Let them fire up a fattie and play some keno.
    That is about as creative as he will get and his compassion for
    “have-nots” extends only to those who vote and only prior to elections.
    Dan fancies himself as a man of the people when it suits his

  • Someone Who Cares

    Pelto- Do you think (and your readers) that fixing education can be an answer for this growing income gap?

    Its the chicken and egg problem…does poverty produce poor education, or poor education produce poverty?

    After years of viewing your blog and more importantly the comments, I would say you, but many a lot of your readers think the way to fix education is to fix poverty, but I challenge to do some research and exploration into what makes great schools in low-income areas. I have seen in Chicago, DC, Hawaii, Houston, and our backyard schools that don’t use poverty as an excuse, but a reality of the situation their kids face, and one of the main things that make those schools great is they take on that issue. Low parent turnout to meetings, they get creative with scheduling, they go to the parents. Parents not helping kids at home, they hold weekly parent workshops, they council parents on tools to implement at home. Kids faced with hunger or violent neighborhoods, they provide whole-child services at the school (social services, health services, dental services), and most importantly, the teachers do not let themselves use poverty as an excuse to not be great.

    “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” – Nelson Mandela


    • jonpelto

      I agree it requires a holistic approach that is based on ensuring people have jobs, safe housing and efforts to train parents to provide the parenting and leadership needed to create a generation of children who understand the importance of education and who will take advantage of the opportunities an education can provide.

      There are no silver bullets, not simple salutations, it won’t be completed in our lifetimes but the alternative is the destruction of our economy, society and nation.

      With 30 Alliance Districts we have 400-500 schools that are in need of major improvement. The Commissioner’s Network is presently spending funds on 10 schools.

      Money will not solve the problem, but resources are a key element.

      And better schools will not solve poverty but they are a key element.

      Jobs, decent housing, save communities, guidance and support are all part of breaking a system to not only creates an underclass but ensures that they cannot break free of those chains.

      The problem is that in this era of distrust of government and business, along with our need for instant gratification, the concept of truly investing for the long term is something that we Americans find difficult to comprehend.

    • brutus2011

      Urban public education is not about the “chicken and egg education problem.” Here in Ct. the level of competence in education among it’s certified teaching force is high–high enough that pedagogy and professional practices are not the problem.

      The problem is resource allocation which makes this so-called education problem a management problem.

      The current administration of our education tax dollars is done from a top-down management system. The problem is that public schools are a government or public sector entity. There is no check, as in the private sector where if a manager is ineffective then revenue suffers and he is eliminated, in government which cause inefficiency, waste, mediocrity, and corruption to take hold and flourish.

      My thesis is that is the current urban public school administration would turn upside down and focus on the bottom (kids, classrooms, parents, and teachers) by giving those at the bottom funding priority then the results that all agree is desirable will start to become manifested.

      Of course, no one making a six figure income is going to fall on their sword and do it for “the kids.”


      • Someone Who Cares

        Sorry, but I do not agree that more money is the answer…it is an easy answer, but not THE answer. I also disagree that CT has all the expertise it needs in its teaching force because if that was the case CT has figured out the secret formula, then what you are saying is that our for-profit universities (yes even state universities are for-profit) care more about producing highly-effective teachers than their bottom line, and those teachers have so much knowledge and expertise that the only thing they need is for administration to give more money to education.

        This is not an easy fix and one gigantic problem is not going to get fixed with one easy solution…more money. What gets me upset on this blog is there is so much pointing of the finger at all the wrong places and not enough dialogue on solutions?

        I will concede the solutions would need more funding, but the solutions include changing the teaching profession, requiring different expectations at teacher prep programs, reinventing professional development, having a more rigorous human capital department (from hiring to evaluations), more choice, more parent engagement…I also think teaching is not a right, but something you must earn, you should have a society that invests in the teaching profession and teachers investing in it too. Too often I see teachers leave right when their contract says they should, or don’t produce lesson plans, but stay in their job because they have taught for 3 plus years…no good and especially not good for the kids.

        Now I know you are going to jump on that last comment and get all worked up over it and say I am probably corporate education reform person, but what you should do is think about what you would do differently, if contracts, and funding were not a factor what education system would you create, what would it look like? I think you will realize that it is a complete holistic approach, but also there is evidence of great schools being implemented all over the country, so if it is being done somewhere, why can’t it be done everywhere.

        • jonpelto

          Show me truly great schools being created (not schools that look great by refusing to take their fair share of poorer children, children who don’t speak English or come form homes where English is not-spoken and children who have special education needs and I believe you will find schools that are investing extra resources to provide services that are not available to the vast majority of poor children. Everytime I’ve been told a school has “great” results I’ve found it is a school that DOES NOT have a population the reflects the school district around it and has invested EXTRA resources. That is certainly the case here in Connecticut among schools that claim to do better.

        • Someone Who Cares

          TEP in NYC

          School of One

          Natchaug School Windham

          Union City New Jersey

          The point is all these schools focused intensely on different priorities, but the one thing they all did extremely well was making the teaching profession actually a profession, investing in PD, teacher growth, extensive observations and evaluations, data-driven instruction.

          Now, please answer my question, what would you do differently within schools, if contracts, and funding were not a factor what education system would you create, what would it look like?

          What are you solutions to great schools?

        • Mary Gallucci

          Natchaug? Come on, if you are speaking about the first two years of the SIG grant, you will have to admit that the infusion of cash was the single most important factor–the excellent teachers who had been there and remained there were crucial, but they had been unable to do their job with all the chaos, churn, turmoil, etc., caused by flat funding, insufficient resources, and neglect.
          Once Adamowski got his greedy hands on the Natchaug grant purse strings, he wasn’t about to miss an opportunity to grab what he could–he increased the student population in all grades at Natchaug by between 70-80% in the third year of the SIG, added fifth grade, dallied long enough to railroad the new roof funding, and generally made conditions very unpleasant for the entire Natchaug family. I speak as a parent who had three children (in these years!) go through Natchaug–not as “someone who cares”-from afar….
          It is easy to spot a corporate ed reformer hack. I am not done complaining about the Natchaug SIG grant–I believe this deserves an audit.

        • Mary Gallucci

          By the way, that part about “data driven” instruction is total malarkey. Your method of commenting SWC is insidious–for every reasonable and convincing point–focus on teaching–you throw in several unproven, neo-liberal nuggets–teacher evals; data driven voodoo value-added nonsense; right-to-work.

        • Linda174

          Maybe SWC is Adamowski?

        • Mary Gallucci

          Possible contenders: Adamowski, M. Poland, Vallas, one of Pryor’s lackeys (the SDE Communications Director?), A. Taylor… take your pick. Or Villanova? This would certify his Urban Education academic/consulting gig.

        • Linda174

          Read the solutions here..last 8-10 chapters. You will learn about improvements, not the present RTT stimulus plan/testing status quo masquerading as “reform” and orchestrated by the Gates USDOE:

        • cindy

          Yes poverty is correlated with failing schools. But since schools stopped doing what children need from 8 to 3, and switched to nonstop standardized test prep, might that also be correlated with failing schools? A lot of us grew up in the 60s without a lot of money but school still met our basic needs and taught us reading, writing and math.

          Having the basics helped many people change their lives for the better. 21st-century skills are a farce. They will not prepare our students for the future. We need to go back to the basics

        • brutus2011

          You miss the point entirely.

          My point is that funding needs to be allocated more efficiently–not that more funding is needed.

          In fact, I believe that bloated administrative costs are a major reason we are in the conundrum we are in today.

          Simply put, my point is to invert the management system to put the emphasis on the “bottom” rather than at the “top.”

          Doing more with less can only come, in my opinion, is the managerial class is jettisoned and those at the classroom level are given the resources saved by eliminating the administrative “fat.”

        • Ophelia

          My public school has over 800 students in grades prek-5. One principal. One vice principal. One copier. One librarian. One counselor. How much more fat do we cut out?
          (and over 50% poverty)

        • Someone Who Cares

          Linda and Mary if you all spent half the time you do on trying to figure out who I am or on trying to tear down every point I make and focused on solutions we might be better off. All I was trying to do was have a dialogue concerning the huge issue facing our kids, poor education. And for you thinking data-driven instruction is voodoo is completely crazy. Go read Driven By Data and then let’s talk, oh I am sorry it wasn’t written by a CT person so it doesn’t apply to CT.

          All I was asking was if you don’t want rigorous curriculum, if you don’t want stronger evals, if you don’t want school choice, if you don’t want data driven “voodoo”, if you don’t want change THEN WHAT DO YOU WANT TO FIX THE PROBLEM?

          I believe all kids deserve a great education and not all the answers lie only with CT teachers.

        • Mary Gallucci

          No, I don’t want choice and no, I did not spend much time figuring out who you might be (I don’t actually care, you are true to type and the comment about your identity was a joke). As for a rigorous curriculum, I have seen nothing in your responses that addresses substantive pedagogical issues.
          You are not trying to FIX THE PROBLEM–you and the kinds of things you want (choice, vouchers, teacher evals/weak or nonexistent unions; standardized everything =data driven)–are CREATING THE PROBLEM and exacerbating the crisis. Your solutions have absolutely nothing to do with the true meaning of education but they have a lot to do with corporate reform. And you clearly do not have children in distressed schools, nor in a charter school, nor do you teach.
          “Your” points have been torn down by worthier people than I. You can repackage this stuff, but it’s the same old separate-but-equal, there-is-a-formula-to-fix-it foolishness.

        • Someone Who Cares

          Mary, half those thing you claim I talked about I did not. I did not talk about vouchers ever, or weakened unions, or for that matter standardized testing. So please don’t put words in my mouth. What are your solutions? That’s all I want to hear.

          I actually love talking about pedagogy, but I have never seen you discuss any on this blog, actually effective implementation of data driven instruction is a form of pedagogy, but what do I know I was a trained teacher from outside of CT. What do you want to talk about Understanding By Design, Gradual Release of Responsibility, or problem based learning.

          That’s ridiculous to say all these initiatives were implemented in CT and fell to budget cuts and those are the answers, just reinstate those items because I hate to break it to you our education problem didn’t start with budget cuts. This didn’t take shape over just several years, this issue has been boiling for years even before NCLB. So just saying let’s go back to the way things were is not the answer for because that is where the problems started. So if that is your solution I asked for then fine, I strongly disagree, but find.

          Let me ask a different way…if you could form a school or school district without contract or budget obstacles what would your school look like?

        • Mary Gallucci

          Most of the time, when offered as a necessary solution to the current “bad” state of education, “choice” is a code word for vouchers. So it is true that you did not say vouchers. Your comments about teachers, teacher prep programs, and other labor-related issues seem wrong-headed to me. and, as you have stated them, I disagree with them.
          As far as pedagogy, I have made many comments, but I will just list some of my inspirations: Emerson, Dewey, Frederick Douglass; the enlightenment. A more contemporary educational model that I admire is the Finnish one: NO standardized testing; high levels of professionalization for teachers, with the concomitant respect, authority, and remuneration; NO computers or technology in elementary school (the teachers may use it for prep and record keeping)–that last one is mine. Since students cannot know what career they will eventually have, there would not be job training and curricula based on so-called 21 century needs. In addition, I favor neighborhood schools–first, it is good for the environment and it is good for children’s health–children spend too much time on buses; the high school should also be a community school, although for this age group, the common “choices” of Technical High Schools and Vo-Ag should remain. But comprehensive High Schools are excellent and should not be sacrificed to careerist “academies”.
          I don’t prefer any brand name system–education is a process, not a product. I also would not want to design it all by myself–I’m too fallible! But one thing I think all children lack–up until High School–is recess outdoors every day. An emphasis on nature and natural sciences would be a wonderful addition to every grade level. My “ideal” school would necessarily have to be integrated–because I could not imagine living in a segregated environment.

        • Someone Who Cares

          Mary thank you for responding to my question, I truly appreciate it. Please let me know if you would like to hear my vision. You might be surprised.

          I have one question (actually more but going to stick to one)…you want neighborhood schools because kids are on buses too much, but then you want integrated ( which I love) but if we have neighborhood schools then we won’t have integration and vice versa.

        • Mary Gallucci

          It is the biggest bane to this country that it cannot be integrated. That needs to be a focus–supporting schools, especially older neighborhood schools, would maintain communities much better than suburban magnet schools. Also, the non-integrated areas of the state–they are so numberous–should be penalized for not having diverse housing stock, etc. The money from that–call it a tax on segregation–can go to making beautiful schools in the cities.
          Do tell your vision, I would like to hear it.

        • Linda174

          Half the time…that would be about 2.5 seconds, so I didn’t spend much time thinking of you. I read driven by data, meh.

          I prefer getting to know children as individuals rather than view them as standardized widgets on a spreadsheet. Nothing is more motivating to kids and parents than having their DATA displayed for motivational purposes. Parents want much more than having their kid pick the right bubble.

        • Linda174

          The joy of testing

        • brutus2011

          I would like to address the point of “(1) all kids deserve (2) a great education.”
          (1) “all kids deserve” is something I don’t believe. I believe all kids should have equal access which is not the same as deserve
          (2) “a great education” is a two way street. Simply put, if someone doesn’t want to learn, no one can help them and if someone does want to learn, no one can stop them.

          Additionally, how do you explain the superior honors classes to the “regular” classes? At what point does a student who just misses the “cut” to honors have his/her equal access diminished?

          I am not trying to “axe” your opinion or to be vitriol in my response. This is an extraordinarily complicated problem but paradoxically has a relatively simple solution, I believe. And this is an answer to your query as to what would I do.

          A. Invert the management structure and put teachers or teacher boards in charge of implementing a/the curriculum.

          B. If a school is over 400 students then split the overall school into two sections to allow the staff to better see all the student behavior issues such as bullying and classroom disruption, etc.

          C. Design and implement teacher teams to facilitate reflection, intelligence on student efforts and behaviors, and mentoring within the group. Additionally, parent contact is likely to more effective if the teacher group handles it together.

          D. Use technology. I cannot understand why many teachers are not required to establish and maintain a class webpage. It is very easy to do and is free. The kids love it and the teacher can use it to provide reinforcement to learning.

          E. Use the Socratic Method much more. Too many kids are passive rather than active readers and learners. In fact, many college students are as well.

          F. Teach kids from early grades on how to be a student or a learner. This should be ingrained at every grade much like the scientific method used to be taught when I was in public schools.

          This is just a small sample of how I would change our urban schools for the better.

          Why? Because they are my kids and our collective future and I care.

        • Charlie Puffers

          SWC, It’s interesting that you believe you have the experience and expertise to fix the problem by fixing the teachers. I taught 1st grade in a suburban private school and then taught 1st grade in an urban public school in an impoverished neighborhood. The results were very different. No one ever considered more training for me at the private school. But at the public school I attended many training sessions in different programs. I now teach in a magnet school. Many of our teachers came as a group when they lost their jobs at an abandoned reconstituted public school. Miraculously the average test scores of their students jumped 30 points at the magnet school compared to the abandoned public school. These are the same teachers teaching in the same way. Would you care to offer an explanation?

        • Someone Who Cares

          Better resources, better development, better leadership at the school level, better instructional collaboration, better school culture…I am not a teacher basher so please don’t put me in that light, I was a teacher, I was school principal and all the teachers I know want their profession to be elevated to a more respected level (which I agree should be at a more prestigious level within our society) but those individuals understand in order to grow as a individual and profession things must change for them. Teacher prep programs must get more rigorous, evaluations aligned with student outcomes (not I said outcomes not test scores so don’t put words in my mouth)…

          What I have numerous times on this blog and have not had someone answer me is, if you had control what would you do differently? My problem is individuals who only attack other points and never offer up their own solutions. So please, if obstacles weren’t in the way how would you design a school or district that serves all students at high levels?

        • Charlie Puffers

          Students must begin at a high level to be served at a high level. There are no short cuts. The blame and fix can not be placed only on the shoulders of the teacher. It has been well-researched and documented that there are many factors (most beyond the control of the teacher) which contribute to student achievement. The solutions would start with economically diverse housing options in all towns in CT, quality pre-natal care, quality pediatric care, high school courses on parenting, in-home parenting classes for teens, a robust curriculum rich in the arts, social sciences, science, math, and character education, lots of playtime in a safe literature rich environment for pre-schoolers, summer school and before and after school care provided by TFA or some other organization of young recent college graduates, small class size, teacher leaders instead of building administrators, and collaboration time built into the school day. I’m sure I am forgetting some things but you get the idea. Pay for it by eliminating all standardized testing before high school, all administrators from the building level up , all boring ineffective teacher training, all unnecessary paperwork and reports.

        • Linda174

          Read carefully here…solutions and recommended readings are being offered to you. Can’t you see them?

    • Guest

      SWCs and Jon, You are both correct. There are multiple solutions to this extreme and all to familiar dilemma. The first is to provide our impoverished students with the education they need to break the cycle of poverty. I believe in the “Whole Child” approach but am very unaware about any public or charter school in CT providing “Whole Child” services to our students.

      I believe the teaching corps is in place to educate our students and educate them well. Teachers in CT are highly trained in the pedagogy needed for our students to succeed.

      However, the social services, food services, and medical services, needed to support the education of our impoverished students is missing in the Whole Child approach. SWC, please enlighten me if I’m missing something. If there is a school in CT using the “Whole Child” approach I would love to hear of it.

      An equally important solution piggy backs onto the “Whole Child” idea. The “Whole Community” idea is to provide our impoverished adult residents with the education, jobs, and housing they need to move beyond the cycle that binds them. We must educate and support the adults too. We must not forget about the parents, grand parents, foster parents, and guardians whose job is to raise our students.

      We need a whole community approach to this problem. There is no single silver bullet but there are multiple solutions.

    • Mary Gallucci

      Much of this is going on already, throughout Connecticut. Charter schools did not invent this idea, and, in fact, charter schools don’t do nearly as much for children and families as traditional public schools. Many of these fine initiatives mentioned here (minus the condescension) were a large part of every public school until they fell to various budget axes.

  • Mary Gallucci

    And in all these years of increasing child poverty and misery, people like Steven Adamowski and Paul Vallas were racking in their quarter-million dollar salaries, plus benefits, plus cars, plus bonuses. Talk about fiddling while children starve.

  • elliew1234

    Johnson’s WAR ON POVERTY went a long way to eliminate poverty here in the US. Education availability was a very large part of what worked. Headstart and availability of higher education gave peole opportunity to get out of poverty. We forget our history if it had not been for the Vietnam War we would be very different. We could have been THE most educated country the world had ever seen.