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No Child Left Behind

Childhood Poverty and School Achievement

This week's release of the 2011 Kids Count Data Book reminds us that child poverty is on the rise in Maine, as it is everywhere in the United States.

In Maine, the most recent census figures show that 17.5% of children under the age of 18 lived in households below the federal poverty threshold. In a broader sign of systemic failure, this number has steadily increased over the past ten years, both in Maine and nationwide.

Why the United States continues to grow one of the worst rates of relative childhood poverty in the world is a question that a nation with our wealth ought to be asking itself with deep concern.

But this trend is one that teachers and school administrators recognize as they deal with growing percentages of students who reflect progressively familiar patterns of ill-preparedness which stem from family displacement and economic trauma.

To reach these students, schools are finding it necessary to broaden both their internal scope and outreach into their communities, becoming the coordinating hubs of networks for child nutrition, medical care, and social services. Without these additional efforts, schools are finding their traditional mission to be increasingly unreachable by those at their margins. Read more »