For more data on Texas youth check out CPPP's links to "The State of Texas Children: Texas KIDS COUNT Annual Data Book 2008-09".
December 26, 2008
Sick kids are likely to be absent from school.
Hungry kids have trouble focusing.
And kids whose families are struggling to stay afloat financially might not get the attention or support they need at home to keep up with homework.
Is it any wonder that economically disadvantaged students lag behind on key measures of academic progress?
The latest Kids Count report highlights how factors such as poverty and lack of proper healthcare push kids into a perilous cycle: economic disadvantage hurts them educationally, which then makes it harder for them to advance economically.
Kids Count is an annual assessment done by the Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities, with support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
The center reports that across Texas, 75 percent of low-income students passed the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills in 2008, while 89 percent of other students passed.
Tarrant County showed a similar gap: 78.3 percent of low-income students passed TAKS reading, compared to 92.3 percent of other students; and 63.8 percent of low-income students passed math, compared to 82 percent of other students.
"Schools can — and have — reduced some of the gaps caused by social and economic disadvantage between families. But schools alone cannot substantially close these gaps," the public-policy center says. "By focusing almost exclusively on what schools do, policymakers miss the opportunity to make meaningful changes and investments in other public systems and programs that could more effectively and efficiently close the gaps."
Some key indicators show conditions getting worse for Texas children. For instance, almost a quarter of them live in poverty in 2005, up from 20.7 percent in 2000. And 24 percent of kids lived in families receiving food stamps in 2006, up from 9.2 percent in 2000.
Of the more than 400,000 children in Tarrant County, 18.5 percent fell below the federal poverty line in 2005, the report said, and 17.7 percent were receiving food stamps in 2006. But both were increases from 2000.
Along with that, more than 22 percent of Tarrant County kids are uninsured, higher than the statewide average of 21 percent.
When the Legislature convenes in January, school districts will be asking for more money to meet rising costs and growing challenges. But if lawmakers really want to improve the chances of educational success, they’ll have to be willing to invest more in healthcare, jobs and other support systems for Texas’ children and families.