News

Child poverty on the rise, local foundation says

Fifty-three percent, statewide, qualify for federal lunch subsidy

In a sign of how the recession has affected California's children, statewide enrollment in the Free or Reduced Price School Meal Program grew by the largest amount in more than a decade, a local foundation reported.

Nearly 19,000 more California children enrolled in the federally subsidized meal program over the last school year, pushing the total enrollment to 53 percent of California public school students, according to the Palo Alto-based Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health.

Locally, 7.7 percent of Palo Alto school children qualified for the program this year, up from 6.6 percent in 2007.

In East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park, which is served by the Ravenswood City School District, 85.2 percent of children qualified for the program, up from 84.3 percent in 2007.

In Menlo Park and Los Altos, the number of children qualifying for the program was less than 5 percent.

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Countywide, 37.7 percent of school children in Santa Clara County qualified for the program, as did 33.7 percent of school children in San Mateo County.

To qualify for the federal lunch subsidy program, a child's family income must fall below 185 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $40,793 for a family of four in 2009.

The numbers were made available through Kidsdata, a project of the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health that aims to provide reliable data on the health and well-being of children. Most of the data is from public sources, though some comes from the foundation's Bay Area Parent Poll.

In the area of college readiness, Kidsdata cites the California Department of Education in reporting that 74.8 percent of Palo Alto graduates last year completed courses required for the University of California and/or California State University with a grade of "C" or better.

In the Sequoia Union High School District, which serves communities from Menlo Park to San Carlos, including East Palo Alto, that figure was 49.8 percent.

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In the Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District, the figure was 67.5 percent.

In 2008, the Palo Alto school district had a 3.6 percent dropout rate, compared with 5.9 percent in Mountain View-Los Altos and 9 percent in the Sequoia Union High School District.

In Santa Clara County, the dropout rate is 15.3 percent; in San Mateo County, it is 12.7 percent. Statewide, the dropout rate is 20.1 percent, according to the California Department of Education.

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Child poverty on the rise, local foundation says

Fifty-three percent, statewide, qualify for federal lunch subsidy

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Mon, Oct 5, 2009, 9:29 am

In a sign of how the recession has affected California's children, statewide enrollment in the Free or Reduced Price School Meal Program grew by the largest amount in more than a decade, a local foundation reported.

Nearly 19,000 more California children enrolled in the federally subsidized meal program over the last school year, pushing the total enrollment to 53 percent of California public school students, according to the Palo Alto-based Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health.

Locally, 7.7 percent of Palo Alto school children qualified for the program this year, up from 6.6 percent in 2007.

In East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park, which is served by the Ravenswood City School District, 85.2 percent of children qualified for the program, up from 84.3 percent in 2007.

In Menlo Park and Los Altos, the number of children qualifying for the program was less than 5 percent.

Countywide, 37.7 percent of school children in Santa Clara County qualified for the program, as did 33.7 percent of school children in San Mateo County.

To qualify for the federal lunch subsidy program, a child's family income must fall below 185 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $40,793 for a family of four in 2009.

The numbers were made available through Kidsdata, a project of the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health that aims to provide reliable data on the health and well-being of children. Most of the data is from public sources, though some comes from the foundation's Bay Area Parent Poll.

In the area of college readiness, Kidsdata cites the California Department of Education in reporting that 74.8 percent of Palo Alto graduates last year completed courses required for the University of California and/or California State University with a grade of "C" or better.

In the Sequoia Union High School District, which serves communities from Menlo Park to San Carlos, including East Palo Alto, that figure was 49.8 percent.

In the Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District, the figure was 67.5 percent.

In 2008, the Palo Alto school district had a 3.6 percent dropout rate, compared with 5.9 percent in Mountain View-Los Altos and 9 percent in the Sequoia Union High School District.

In Santa Clara County, the dropout rate is 15.3 percent; in San Mateo County, it is 12.7 percent. Statewide, the dropout rate is 20.1 percent, according to the California Department of Education.

Comments

Cynthia Davis
East Palo Alto
on Oct 5, 2009 at 11:44 am
Cynthia Davis, East Palo Alto
on Oct 5, 2009 at 11:44 am

I'm very curious to see what "people" have to say about this subject. Be careful!


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2009 at 1:08 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2009 at 1:08 pm

Don't hold your breath, Cynthia. I wouldn't expect many comments on this thread. Not when there are horrid crimes such as the trees on California Ave for the good people of Palo Alto to spend their energy on. Hundreds of people have posted about the trees, I'd be shocked to see more than ten comments here. Sad, isn't it?

It's fascinating how the numbers between drop outs and students living in poverity match so well. I know most people don't want to provide financial assistance to adults, but we should not let the children of our communities fall behind like this. Children should be focused on school, not whether or not they are going to get fed that day. I'm not sure what the answer is. I wish I did.


This was Predictable
South of Midtown
on Oct 5, 2009 at 3:19 pm
This was Predictable, South of Midtown
on Oct 5, 2009 at 3:19 pm

Bring back businesses..bring back the wealthy...bring back the jobs...bring back the taxpayers.

We seem to have to learn this every 15 years..when you set out to destroy "the rich" ( ie lower that "rich-poor" gap), you make more poor people, and you make the poor poorer.

When are we going to learn? When the water level rises, the whole boat rises, including those on the bottom of the boat. And conversely.

Bring back trickle down wealth, get rid of trickle down poverty.


Anon
another community
on Oct 5, 2009 at 8:00 pm
Anon, another community
on Oct 5, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Well said, Predictable, Well Said.


Citizen
Midtown
on Oct 5, 2009 at 10:38 pm
Citizen, Midtown
on Oct 5, 2009 at 10:38 pm

Excellent Predictable. Just excellent. The solution to every problem isn't taxing the top 5% more.


anon
Los Altos
on Oct 6, 2009 at 3:10 pm
anon, Los Altos
on Oct 6, 2009 at 3:10 pm

In response to Anonymous, "we should not let the children of our communities fall behind like this. Children should be focused on school..." there is something the Palo Alto and other surrounding communities can do. Go to www.epak.org and learn how you can help the students and teachers in EPA and eastern Menlo Park.


Brian
Evergreen Park
on Oct 6, 2009 at 4:12 pm
Brian, Evergreen Park
on Oct 6, 2009 at 4:12 pm

I am continually amazed - and saddened - that the right wing seems to dominate most of the discussion on PAOnline - including this innocuous thread, and yet the community as a whole seems to be generally liberal. I'd be interested in some discussion of why the angry, right wing, libertarian extremist viewpoint is so prevalent when people can post anonymously.


Good question, Brian
Greenmeadow
on Oct 6, 2009 at 8:24 pm
Good question, Brian, Greenmeadow
on Oct 6, 2009 at 8:24 pm

Can't believe the tone of this thread. I'm so sad to read these statistics because these represent real lives, kids and families really struggling. How can people not see that when we ignore the fate of our children we are mortgaging our own future?

Just do the simple mathematics: Invest now in helping kids learn, eat, get reasonable health care and FINISH SCHOOL, or invest MORE later in welfare, prisons, and crime. People aren't just lazy and stupid; the poor, particularly those who do not speak English as a first language, face enormous challenges that the complacent rich can't even imagine.

Mike Smith, the former director of education programming for the Hewlett Foundation, last a couple of years ago in a presentation in Palo Alto that we don't just face an achievement gap in schools, we face a compassion gap in our society. One of the biggest challenges for keeping kids in school is that poor kids are literally losing their teeth--no dental care or hygiene. Middle class and wealthy folks don't even consider this, and many just don't care. How did we become such a nation of non-carers?

And it starts RIGHT HERE with these statistics. More free and reduced lunch kids, the number jumping enormously, means more kids who have HUGE burdens to bear. Staying in school becomes so much harder when there's not enough money at home.

So ANYONE not facing this, anyone worth millions, should be volunteering to pay more taxes to help people, not doing everything possible to avoid it. Wealth doesn't make its owner superior, and it's almost never the result just of the people who have gotten wealthy. So many people, from the janitor to the COO to the pass receiver, contribute to enable individuals to get wealthy. While some are wonderfully aware of this (Bill Gates) others just turn a blind eye.

All those kids are all our kids. Wake up and smell the free milk they get only at school. These statistics are not boring--they're tragic. And they're endangering the future for all of us.


A Noun Ea Mus
Professorville
on Oct 7, 2009 at 1:15 am
A Noun Ea Mus, Professorville
on Oct 7, 2009 at 1:15 am

Ever since the imposition of "Supply Side Economics" under Reagan, and accelerated to an obscene degree by Bush..

the rich have gotten richer and the poor poorer. It is indeed time to re-institute the tax structure and programs existing even under Eisenhower (or under the shadow of FDR as you see fit to characterize).

Without a sound infrastructure and a educated populace the whole society is pulled down. That the decades long greed fest has produced this abysmal situation and still has it's ardent defenders is astounding.


A Noun Ea Mus
Professorville
on Oct 7, 2009 at 1:21 am
A Noun Ea Mus, Professorville
on Oct 7, 2009 at 1:21 am

And meanwhile, just a bit south of our border, with far less resources, a mockery is made of "No Child Left Behind"...

Web Link

If we could adopt just 5% of the zeal which makes this type of change possible miracles could happen. Instead we fume and foam over trees cut down on California Ave.


Anon
another community
on Oct 7, 2009 at 8:32 am
Anon, another community
on Oct 7, 2009 at 8:32 am

I'm not saying tax the wealthy more, I'm not saying raising taxes at all is the best option. Sometimes throwing more money at problems doesn't solve them.

What I am saying is that it is OUR responsibility to insure every child in our country is given a fair and equal chance. We are not doing that. Children living in poverty are not getting that chance - these stats prove it.

If every wealthy person in Palo Alto used the experience that got them wealthy to mentor a child less fortunate that would be thousands of children that stand a better chance.

If every teenager in Palo Alto that is so privaledged to live here tutored poor children from EPA, just think of the lives that could change.

If the well to do people here worked with community action groups to get drug dealers off the streets, to clean up graffity, to provide after school programs, to....well, you get the point.

I know that people around here think with their wallets, but sometimes getting your well manicured hands dirty is a better solution. And, it's cool because that way you don't have to part with your precious money.

No Child Left Behind, by the way, is the worst thing to hit this country since slavery. It does more to separate the poor children and help them fail than any other factor ever.


Anon
another community
on Oct 7, 2009 at 8:34 am
Anon, another community
on Oct 7, 2009 at 8:34 am

HEY! They thread made it past ten posts! Color me wrong!

Of course three, now four, of them are from me, so I'm not sure it counts.


The Tone
Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 7, 2009 at 11:43 am
The Tone, Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 7, 2009 at 11:43 am

The tone? You mean it is wrong to want to improve our economy so that the unemployed have work, and the employed make more, and the tax revenues increase = all of which help the children, and help the poor?

yup, those nasty right-wingers sure are horrible, wanting good results, not just good words...



The Tone
Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 7, 2009 at 11:46 am
The Tone, Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 7, 2009 at 11:46 am

BTW, if you want to help, donate your time and money.

If you want to know who was donating the most time and money to help those in need, be prepared for a shock to learn who it was! Hint, it WASN'T democrats, nor atheists!


Cynthia
East Palo Alto
on Oct 7, 2009 at 2:16 pm
Cynthia, East Palo Alto
on Oct 7, 2009 at 2:16 pm

Sooooo, I would like to remind everyone that was defending the "famous" homeless guy that was berating a man in a wheelchair about panhandling in his spot! People were seriously defending this bully, who by the way, has his own apartment and his second BMW! A grown ass man? He gets more sympathy and support than some hungry children? Let's make sure he has everything most people dream of and build more prisons for these hungry children. Then defend it with big words and superior attitudes. Boring and sickening!


No Friend of Victors
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2009 at 3:00 pm
No Friend of Victors, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2009 at 3:00 pm

Why did you raise Him as part of the discussion? Personal aganda?

BTW -if you want you argument to hold water, avoid hyperbole. He didn't own a BMW, it was a Mercedes replaced by a Honda. Your rage loses something when based on false information.


Cynthia Davis
East Palo Alto
on Nov 8, 2009 at 7:16 pm
Cynthia Davis, East Palo Alto
on Nov 8, 2009 at 7:16 pm

The point is children are hungry, if you don't care about that, then go be phony and "smart" somewhere else. But thanks for sharing.


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