Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Another Inconvenient Truth - Poverty in America

The American dream has taken a battering in recent weeks with the publication of two seperate reports that highlight aspects of poverty in America.

Cities in Crisis reports on high school graduation rates across America's largest 50 cities and highlights significant failings in the education system among large sections of the urban population. The author, Dr Christopher Swanson, reports the following findings:
  • 17 of America's top cities have high school graduation rates of less than 50%
  • More than 1 million students in America drop out of high school every year
  • Urban schools perform on average 15% worse than suburban schools nation wide and nearly 20% worse than the national average
  • Graduation rates among males in the 50 cities are 8% lower than for females
  • Historically disadvantaged ethnic minority groups perform 25% worse than white students
  • Only 24.9% of students in Detroit and 34% of Cleveland students graduated from public high schools
The report, commissioned by America's Promise Alliance explicity makes the link between education attainment and poverty in America:

"The much higher rates of high school completion among their suburban counterparts – who may literally live and attend school right around the corner – place in a particularly harsh and unflattering light the deep undercurrents of inequity that plague American public education."

The report concludes: "It is not an isolated problem: this is a national crisis." Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, founding chair of the Alliance, adds, "When more than 1 million students a year drop out of high school, it's more than a problem, it's a catastrophe."

A high quality map enabling viewers to zoom in and out of every school district in America, based on the statistics that underpin the report, can be found here.

A second report predicts that a record number of Americans - 28 million - will become recipients of food stamps in 2008. With over 40 states seeing a rise in numbers of recipients last year, the Food Research and Action Centre is predicting continued growth in the coming 12 months.

Six states saw food stamp use increase by 10% in 2007 - Arizona, Florida, Maryland, Nevada, North Dakota and Rhode Island. In West Virginia, 16% of the state population currently receive food stamps, which have long been one indicator of poverty in America.

Over the same 12 month period, grocery inflation has been at its highest since the early 1990s with milk having risen by 17%, rice, pasta and bread by 12% and eggs by nearly a quarter.

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Kelly said...

Yes, it's an inconvenient truth and a difficult problem to solve, but good for you for calling attention to the problem. In 2006, 18.3 % of children, more than 1 in 6, were in poverty. Among African American children, 1 in 3 was in poverty.

fromwembley said...

Cities in Crisis' "report" is just something they're using to promote their own agenda. I know a lot of urban schools are failing, but don't begrudge suburban schools for their success.

A lot of inner cities are failing. It's not caused by White flight nor a government conspiracy. Cities and schools fail because the people inside of them fail. Don't blame anyone but black America for its own failures.

Food stamps has long been a wasteful program. If more people are on food stamps that's not correlated with poverty. Instead, it is due to looser eligibility requirements. Food stamps were meant to be a temporary measure but mose recipients - blacks - use them as a lifelong entitlement. Want less people on food stamps? Tighten the eligibility requirements for food stamps.

DTAOhio said...

The failure on the part of government to ensure that all families have sufficient income to meet their basic human needs has caused holes in the financial safety net to steadily worsen over the years. Our government’s failure to prioritize the needs of the poorest of the poor is causing increased hardships among those least suited to survive them.
Simultaneously, other challenges facing many of these same families are growing worse as a result of insufficient support for basic child welfare, mental health and substance abuse programs. These issues are bound together. It is virtually impossible to resolve many of the behavioral health issues families are facing when they must focus all of their energy on simply surviving.
We must place a greater priority on financial resources for the poorest of the poor. We must provide sufficient benefits through our safety net programs to meet all basic needs for these families. This is already a crisis for the people affected by these issues.
We call upon our state and federal elected representatives to not turn away from these serious problems.
We must take immediate action!
Please contact your federal and state elected officials to urge them to address these issues!