Poverty, race and student achievement

Poverty, race and student achievement

It’s no secret that segregation in public schools is linked to achievement gaps between black and white students. But it turns out that poverty – not race – is the biggest factor in how students fare in school. Jill Barshay at the The Hechinger Report writes about a new study by Stanford sociologist Stan Reardon, Is Separate still Unequal? New Evidence on School Segregation and Racial Academic Achievement Gaps, which analyses eight years of public school data: 

In the study, Reardon finds that racial segregation is a very strong predictor of the gaps in academic achievement between white and black or Hispanic students, but it’s school poverty — not the student’s race — that accounts for these big gaps. When the difference in poverty rates between black and white schools is larger, the achievement gaps between black and white students are larger. When the difference in poverty rates between black and white schools is smaller, the achievement gaps are smaller. 


Celebrating improvements in health coverage
The Lake Charles American-Press applauds the historic drop in Louisiana’s uninsured rate, which dropped to 8% last year and remains below the national average even though the Pelican State continues to struggle with high rates of poverty. The drop is linked, of course, to Louisiana’s decision to expand Medicaid coverage to low-income adults below 138% of the federal poverty rate. 

Stacey Roussel, policy director for the Louisiana Budget Project that reports on how public policy affects low- and moderate-income families, said the low uninsured rate means something is going right in Louisiana … “Beyond health care, experts said a drop in uninsured rates has implications for productivity and stability in a state that often falls on the bottom of all the ‘good’ lists and the top of all the ‘bad’ lists.”


Defending criminal justice reform
The historic criminal justice reforms that passed the Legislature in 2017 with broad bipartisan coalitions are drawing fire on the campaign trail. Businessman Eddie Rispone says he wants to tweak the reforms, while U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham promises a return to the lock-em-up ways of Louisiana’s past. The Advocate’s editorial board is not amused.

All these officials ought to rethink their stands. The lock-them-up, throw-away-the-key attitudes of grandstanding politicians is what got us into a prison funding crisis. … Abraham and Rispone should remember that more than nine out of 10 inmates in prisons will eventually get out. The goal of the criminal justice reform is reinvestment, to spend more on training the large numbers of offenders who can’t read or write, or hold a real job that is their one real hope of staying out of prison.


Understand the upcoming constitutional amendments
Voters will face four proposed amendments to the state constitution on their Oct. 12 primary ballot. That’s a low number by recent standards, and none of the amendments are terribly consequential (unless, perhaps, you are a New Orleans real-estate developer or an offshore oil driller). The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana has an explanation of the amendments, which The Advocate encourages voters to read: 

The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana summarized the arguments to be made against several amendments before the voters on Oct. 12 in one sentence: “The amendment is a good example of using the Constitution for minutiae instead of for fundamental law.” True, and many voters might be wanting to send a message by voting such minutiae down. But the fact remains that amendments are the way — for now — that Louisiana legislates, and the issues involved require the voters’ attention.

KLFY in Lafayette has produced a series of videos explaining the amendments.


Number of the Day
4.9% – Annual growth in personal income in Louisiana in 2nd quarter, ranking 27th among the states. For the United States as a whole, income grew 5.4% (Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis)