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: http://www.ctvoices.org/publications/poverty-median-income-and-health-insurance-connecticut-summary-2012-american-community-