More than half of Louisiana children get health coverage through Medicaid, and the access provided by this coverage has vast implications on their ability to perform in school. To kick off the school year, the LBP’s Jeanie Donovan writes about the importance of Medicaid for children in Louisiana:
As of June 2018, 725,000 Louisiana children had health insurance via Medicaid, which is funded through a state and federal partnership and provides health insurance to children whose families don’t earn enough to afford private coverage. Medicaid coverage guarantees children can get all of the health services they need, including preventive care, immunizations, necessary treatment and developmental screenings. Well-child visits and screenings are especially important because they help to identify physical and behavioral health issues that impact a child’s ability to learn and succeed in school and can be costly to treat later if they go undetected.
Medicaid brings stability to low-income families and their children, which is vital to their long-term health and ability to move out of poverty.
Research shows that having health insurance through Medicaid has both short and long-term benefits for children and their families. Children with Medicaid are significantly more likely to have a regular source of care and have significantly better health outcomes than to children who are uninsured. Medicaid is also linked to reduced rates of medical debt and bankruptcy. One study found that expanded Medicaid eligibility for children led to a decrease in the high school dropout rate, increase in college enrollment, and increase in the four-year college attainment rate.
More young people defaulting on student debt
Congress requires the U.S. Department of Education to track and make efforts to reduce student loan debt defaults in the first three years of a borrower’s repayment period. But new research shows that focusing only on the first three years ignores the full extent of the debt crisis. Ben Miller, Senior Director for Postsecondary Education at the Center for American Progress, penned an opinion piece in The New York Times:
Consider the official statistics: Of borrowers who started repaying in 2012, just over 10 percent had defaulted three years later. That’s not too bad — but it’s not the whole story. Federal data never before released shows that the default rate continued climbing to 16 percent over the next two years, after official tracking ended, meaning more than 841,000 borrowers were in default. Nearly as many were severely delinquent or not repaying their loans (for reasons besides going back to school or being in the military). The share of students facing serious struggles rose to 30 percent over all.
Miller writes that rising tuition costs are main culprit in the debt crisis.
The federal government, states and institutions also need to make significant investments in college affordability to reduce the number of students who need a loan in the first place. Too many borrowers and defaulters are low-income students, the very people who would receive only grant aid under a rational system for college financing. Forcing these students to borrow has turned one of America’s best investments in socioeconomic mobility — college — into a debt trap for far too many.
ALICE is more common than you think
In the United States, there is a substantial group of people and families that live above the poverty line but still find it difficult to pay for all of their basic necessities. The United Way refers to them as the ALICE population, which stands for Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, and Employed. They are families who work hard, but due to low-wages and rising costs of living, it is difficult to make ends meet each month. And even with the current low unemployment rate, an alarming percentage of U.S. households continue to struggle. Sarah Skidmore Sell of the Associated Press:
Food insecurity was the most common challenge: More than 23 percent of households struggled to feed their family at some point during the year. That was followed by problems paying a family medical bill, reported by about 18 percent. A similar percentage didn’t seek care for a medical need because of the cost. Additionally, roughly 13 percent of families missed a utility bill payment at some point during the year. And 10 percent of families either didn’t pay the full amount of their rent or mortgage, or they paid it late.
The new data on household economic insecurity comes as lawmakers in D.C. debate cuts to vital social safety net programs, which are the buffer between hunger and homelessness for many of the ALICE families who are just one lost paycheck away from poverty.
‘Representative bureaucracy’ is key in the classroom
Public administration experts have long touted the benefits of a representative bureaucracy, and research backs up their claims that when a government or nonprofit agency looks like the people it serves, it is more effective. This idea has become increasingly applied to education, where research shows that a diverse teaching corps is not only beneficial for students of color, but for all students regardless of race. Abigail Geiger breaks down the data in The Pew Institute’s Fact Tank:
Racial and ethnic minorities accounted for 20% of all public elementary and secondary school teachers in the United States during the 2015-16 school year, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). That makes teachers considerably less racially and ethnically diverse than their students – as well as the nation as a whole. By comparison, 51% of all public elementary and secondary school students in the U.S. were nonwhite in 2015-16, the most recent year for which NCES has published data. And 39% of all Americans were racial or ethnic minorities that year, according to U.S. Census Bureau population estimates. (Younger Americans are a more racially and ethnically diverse group than older people.)
Geiger also points out that nonwhite teachers are virtually non-existent at schools with high-percentages of white children, while nonwhite teachers often made up around 55 percent of the faculty at a schools with high percentages of children of color.
Number of the day
3 – the percentage that Louisiana’s population grew between 2010 and 2017, which is significantly lower than Texas and Florida at 13 and 12 percent. (Source: NOLA.com | The Times Picayune)