Concentrated Poverty in 2014 Now 50 Percent Higher than in 2000

In her recent book, Reign of Error, Diane Ravitch decries the lack of political leadership during the past quarter century to address what she calls “the toxic mix”: racial segregation, poverty, and inequality:

“In the absence of active leadership by federal officials and the judiciary, the public is apathetic about racial and ethnic segregation, as well as socioeconomic segregation…  Neither of the major federal efforts of the past generation—No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top—has even mentioned segregation….  While these programs directed billions of federal aid, they did not leverage any funding to promote desegregation of schools or communities, and in their demand to expand the charter sector, they may have worsened the problem.  As black and Hispanic students remain segregated in large numbers, their academic achievement remains low.  Then federal law stigmatizes their schools as ‘failing’ and recommends firing their principals and their teachers and closing their schools.” (pp. 294-295).

One advocate who has persistently drawn our attention to the impact of concentrated poverty and inequality overlaid on racial segregation is Richard Rothstein of the Economic Policy Institute.  In a new piece posted on the website of the Economic Policy Institute, African American Poverty: Concentrated and Multi-Generational, Rothstein describes his just-published review for the American Prospect of a new book by sociologist, Patrick Sharkey, Stuck in Place, which according to Rothstein explores the multi-generational impact of living in communities where poverty is extreme and children and their families are surrounded by a concentration of families where there is little hope.

Rothstein also directs our attention to Paul Jargowsky’s new report from the Century Foundation and Rutgers Center for Urban Research and Education: Concentration of Poverty in the New Millennium.  According to Jargowsky, “the number of high-poverty census tracts—those with poverty rates of 40 percent or more—fell 26 percent, from 3,417 in 1990 to 2,510 in 2000.”  However, “The sharp reduction in high-poverty neighborhoods observed in the 2000 census… has since been completely reversed.  The count of such tracts increased by 800 (32 percent) between 2000 and the 2005-2009 ACS data to nearly the level of 1990….  In the latest available data, spanning 2007-2011, the count of high poverty tracts rose by an additional 454 (14 percent) to 3,764, eclipsing the 1990 high.  Overall, the number of high-poverty tracts has increased by 50 percent since 2000.”

I agree with Rothstein that we must educate ourselves about our society’s growing inequality as one step toward building the political will to address the tragedy and injustice of ongoing denial of opportunity for generations of children.  Rothstein concludes his recent blog post: “Reading Patrick Sharkey’s Stuck in Place and Paul Jawarsky’s Concentration of Poverty is a sobering way to start 2014  But for deeper insights into the challenges we face in narrowing inequality, I recommend you do so.”


6 thoughts on “Concentrated Poverty in 2014 Now 50 Percent Higher than in 2000

  1. Decades ago educator Dr. Ron Edmonds stated the words that became a mantra: All children can learn. He wanted educators to not assume children of color or in poverty were unteachable, unable or unwilling to learn. But his statement became a rationale for some to ignore the poverty, racism, and inequality so strongly correlated with learning. Now, if children aren’t succeeding on the standardized tests the “reformers” want to place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the teachers, because, after all as Dr. Edmonds said, “All Children Can Learn.” If they’re not, teacher, it has to be your fault. For elected officials at all levels, it is much “cheaper” to place blame on the public schools than addressing the rising inequality, unemployment, and poverty in our nation.

  2. Nice post, Jan. You digest many resources and present them in an easily accessible, coherent way to your readers, as usual, including the key links. Molly

    Molly A. Hunter, Esq.

    Standing Up for Public School Children
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    >>> janresseger 1/9/2014 7:30 AM >>>

    janresseger posted: “In her recent book, Reign of Error, Diane Ravitch decries the lack of political leadership during the past quarter century to address what she calls “the toxic mix”: racial segregation, poverty, and inequality: “In the absence of active leadership by f”

  3. On the 50th Anniversary of LBJ’s announcement of a ‘War on Poverty,’ Sen. Marco
    Rubio [R-Florida] announced his attempt to remove all Federal programs from dealing with the poor & poverty and streamline all “existing federal antipoverty funding into one single agency.” His mantra was/is a “revenue-neutral flex fund.” This is code for what we formerly knew as “block grants” to the states, annually. Let the states “design & fund creative initiatives that address the factors behind inequality of opportunity.” He would also replace the earned income tax credit with a “federal wage enhancement for qualifying low-wage jobs” & paid monthly. He said antipoverty efforts over the last fifty years have been too expensive and ineffective with the poverty rate barely changed.

    Rather than see federal safety-nets as a weapon against poverty, he’d let the states have no accountability and free-reign to whatever they chose, each from the other and a mishmash . It’s easy to see that the Education Department would be the first to go and without molding power or insights and certainly no oversight. I can’t see a Democratic Senate letting this get very far, but it’s clear what one Republican sees as a fix and why Rubio has been a ‘teaparty’ darling to this point in time. Other speeches were given at the LBJ Room at the Capitol, but this “marquee event” was the only one reported.

  4. Pingback: Concentrated Poverty in 2014 Now 50 Percent Higher than in 2000 |

  5. Pingback: Neighborhoods with Concentrated Poverty, with Paul Jargowsky, Patrick Sharkey, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Sherrilyn Ifill | Economic Policy Institute | MI ED News Clips

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