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Child Poverty: Moving in the Wrong Direction

These statistics are especially important in light of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) study finding that the most important factor in score variation for American students was socio-economic background.
Click here for the results of the latest PISA, completed in 2012.
The rapid growth of the child poverty rate since 2000 has provided a wake-up call for many state-elected leaders, and AFT’s data has sparked discussion about what it means to have nearly one in four U.S. students living in poverty. The reality is that we need to do a better job in directing tools and resources to the students and schools that need them the most.
The stark changes in many states, including Connecticut, illustrate the widening income gap between affluent and poor households, which reduces economic growth, jeopardizes socio-economic mobility (a key element to the American dream), and increases demand for quality public services at a time when state and local tax bases are shrinking.
Click here for a map charting the increase in child poverty in Connecticut since 2000.
In 2013, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) released the report of the congressionally appointed Equity and Excellence Commission, of which AFT President Randi Weingarten was a member. Its charge was to provide advice to DOE Secretary Arne Duncan on the disparities in meaningful educational opportunities and to recommend ways in which federal policies can address such disparities.
“The report called for concrete investments in wraparound services and preschool; spelled out how to help and sustain the teaching force we need, not by shaming and blaming teachers but by supporting them; and detailed the need for high-quality curricula, teaching resources, safe and nurturing schools, and collaborative learning environments,” said Weingarten. “That’s the agenda we should be focused on to help all of our children succeed.
Click here for the full report, For Each and Every Child: A Strategy for Education Equity and Excellence.
In education, high-performing countries address socio-economic disparities by directing resources to the schools and students with the greatest need. Countries like Brazil, China and India are dramatically expanding access to preschool, reflecting a growing consensus that transcends political ideologies and geographic boundaries — that skills development starts at birth and lays the foundation for achievement in school, college, career and life.
Click here for AFT’s video on the latest PISA international assessments and what they mean for efforts to improve U.S. students’ learning experience.
Applying the lessons learned from other nations’ student outcomes aligns with AFT’s vision for reclaiming the promise of public education. Reclaiming the promise is about fulfilling our collective obligation to ensure that every person has the opportunity to succeed and live a productive life. It is about providing:
  • high-quality public education for all children that nurtures a joy of teaching and learning;
  • access to early childhood care and education for all families, including the supports they need;
  • access to affordable and excellent higher education;
  • the resources and staffing our hospitals and medical centers need to provide world-class patient care;
  • properly funded and dependable public services and programs that meet the needs of our communities; and
  • safeguards for retirement security for all working women and men.
Click here to learn more and sign-up to join us to Reclaim the Promise in 2015.

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