COVID-19 and Child Poverty: How a Pandemic Showed Us We Have a Choice

Over the course of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the rate of child poverty in the United States has fallen dramatically “from 14.2% in 2018 to less than 5.6% in 2021” with severe poverty cutting almost in half.[1] In fact, the 2020 child poverty rates in the United States were the lowest they have been since the 1960s when the US Census Bureau began measuring child poverty rates.[2]

The decrease in child poverty is due to the government’s expansion “of the social safety net,” including the “child tax credit and funding for food.”[3] The child tax credit alone decreased child poverty by approximately 40 percent after providing families with monthly checks to cover basic necessities.[4] In addition to the child tax credit, “other safety-net expansions” provided during the pandemic included “three stimulus checks, a moratorium on evictions, increased unemployment benefits and more funding for food, through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and housing.”[5] According to research, if these safety-net options were not provided, approximately one out of three children in the United States “would be living in poverty.”[6]

However, experts warn that permitting these “measures to expire may” result in child poverty rates increasing once again.[7] The child tax credit already expired in January 2022, resulting in 3.7 million more children in poverty, “a 41% increase from December.”[8] Families who previously used the child tax credit to cover basic necessities are struggling to provide their families with “food, pay rent and keep the lights on,” especially because prices continue to rise.[9]

Not only is alleviating poverty the right thing to do, but there are also economic benefits for reducing the rate of child poverty.[10] In fact, the National Academy of Sciences found that “child poverty costs the US between $800bn and $1.1tn each year” due to “lost adult productivity and the increased cost of health and criminal justice spending.”[11]

The safety-net expansions implemented during the pandemic demonstrate how allowing children to remain in poverty is a choice and how we know some ways to end child poverty.[12] Now, it is time to implement policies to end child poverty once and for all.


[1] Melody Schreiber, Child poverty will rise if US withdraws COVID-era benefits, experts warn, Guardian (Mar. 17, 2022) https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/mar/17/us-child-poverty-rate-welfare-measures-expire-experts.

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] Id.

[11] Id.

[12] Id.

The Great Migration: Educators Leaving the Profession & the Impact it has on Students

Alternative Entrepreneurship Education Choices. Protohack.org

With the pandemic forcing schools online over the past two years, an already dwindling education workforce is seeing a dramatic increase in teachers leaving the profession. Top reasons for this mass exodus include burnout and lack of appropriate compensation, as well as fears related to contracting covid in an in-person setting particularly for those teachers who are in high-risk categories. This is exacerbated by the fact that many teachers are no longer able to cultivate meaningful relationships with their students over this new online format.

The National Education Association poll conducted in January 2022, reported that 90% of its members say that feeling burned out is a serious problem; 86% say they have seen more educators leaving the profession or retiring early since the start of the pandemic; and 80% report that unfilled job openings have led to more work obligations for those left. These rates are even higher among Black and Hispanic/Latino educators.[1] Similar research from the RAND Corporation 2021 State of the U.S. Teacher Survey found nearly one in four teachers said that they were likely to leave their jobs by the end of the 2020–2021 school year, compared with one in six teachers who were likely to leave, on average, prior to the pandemic. [2] In particular, Black or African American teachers were more likely to leave.[3]

 

The result of teachers leaving their positions for new and more prosperous positions outside of the field is devastating for students. This is particularly true for students of color and those with disabilities. Studies show educators leaving the profession has a direct correlation to a decline in students’ success. “Research shows that high teacher turnover rates in schools negatively impact student achievement for all students in a school, not just those in a new teacher’s classroom.”[4] Further, “these rates are highest in schools serving low-income and students and students of color.”[5]

 

Class sizes are ballooning as remaining teachers are forced to consolidate classes. Students’ schedules are being changed to accommodate for this lack of educators. Some students are forced into classes that they may have no interest in or are being switched mid-school year into an entirely new class with new faces and new material.

 

Further complicating matters is the fact that the pool of applicants to fill these vacant positions is scarce, and those who are available may be grossly underqualified.

 

So, what gives? The National Education Association (NEA) says money should be top of mind. NEA supports raising salaries and hiring more people.[6] Specifically, they are pushing that American Rescue Plan money should be used to increase pay and establish new positions.[7] Their message is clear: if we don’t act now, we may be doing irreparable harm.

[1] https://www.nea.org/about-nea/media-center/press-releases/nea-survey-massive-staff-shortages-schools-leading-educator

[2] https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RRA1108-1.html.

[3] https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RRA1108-1.html.

[4] https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/blog/why-addressing-teacher-turnover-matters#:~:text=High%20turnover%20undermines%20student%20achievement&text=Research%20shows%20that%20high%20teacher,students%20and%20students%20of%20color

[5] https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/blog/why-addressing-teacher-turnover-matters#:~:text=High%20turnover%20undermines%20student%20achievement&text=Research%20shows%20that%20high%20teacher,students%20and%20students%20of%20color

[6] https://www.npr.org/2022/02/01/1076943883/teachers-quitting-burnout.

[7] https://www.npr.org/2022/02/01/1076943883/teachers-quitting-burnout.

Weekly Round Up (November 7, 2019)

A new Trump administration rule could hurt LGBTQ youth in foster care

Foster care agencies could soon turn away prospective foster parents because they are gay or trans, thanks to a rule proposed by the Trump administration on Friday.

The rule would remove language protecting LGBTQ people and others from discrimination in programs funded by grants from the Department of Health and Human Services, according to the Washington Post.

The change would apply to a wide range of programs, including those aimed at HIV prevention and treatment for opioid addiction and other substance abuse. But advocates say it appears targeted at the child welfare system, where it could have devastating effects, including keeping children from finding homes and even funneling them into the prison system.

Read more here . . . 

 

Genesis, 9, draws her family in Matamoros, while her tía watches them from Brownsville, Texas.  I want to leave from here because I can't be happy and I can't sleep,  she writes. She believes there are crocodiles in the Rio Grande river, where many asylum-seekers bathe and wash their clothes.‘They’re Screaming for Help.’ See Drawings From Children Stuck in Mexico as They Seek U.S. Asylum

“America, where they didn’t let me in,” writes 11-year-old Jose from Honduras in Spanish next to a picture of mountains and trees on a canvas in blue, green and brown colors. He also drew a river — the Rio Grande that separates him from Brownsville, Texas, where his family hopes to claim asylum. “La tierra prometida,” he writes. “The promised land.”

Jose is one of at least 1,450 migrants who are living in a tent encampment on the streets of Matamoros, a city in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, as a result of the Trump Administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy. Dozens of children in Matamoros drew their experiences as part of an art project, photos of which were provided exclusively to TIME by Dr. Belinda Arriaga, an associate professor at the University of San Francisco who specializes in child trauma and Latino mental health. She traveled to Matamoros Oct. 19-25 as part of a group of volunteers who provided aid and psychological care to migrant children and their families.

Read more here . . . 

 

No More ‘At-Risk’ Students in California

A decades-long effort to change how educators talk about students facing economic or social challenges has been backed by California lawmakers.

bill to remove references to “at-risk youth” and replace the term with “at-promise youth” in California’s Education Code and Penal Code was approved by California governor Gavin Newsom in mid-October. The California Education Code is a collection of laws primarily applying to public K-12 schools. The bill does not change the definition of “at risk,” it merely replaces it with “at promise.”

 “For far too long, the stigmatizing label of ‘at risk’ has been used to describe youth living in difficult situations,” said Assembly member Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer Sr., lead author of the bill, in an address to the California State Assembly earlier this year.