Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Multigenerational Poverty and the Academic Achievement Gap for African American Students

9780226924250In The American Prospect this week, Richard Rothstein reviews  Stuck in Place: Urban Neighborhoods and the End of Progress toward Racial Equality, a new book by sociologist Patrick Sharkey. Cribbing from the article: Sharkey’s evidence shows that low-income black children in the United States tend to be concentrated at the low end of the poverty line and are more likely to live in poor neighborhoods for multiple generations, as opposed to white children, whose family poverty tends to be episodic. For example, 48 percent of black families have lived in poor neighborhoods over at least two generations, compared to 7 percent of white families, and young blacks are ten times more likely to live in a poor neighborhood than their white counterparts. Sharkey argues that “the consequences of multi-generational exposure to concentrated poverty in neighborhoods of considerable violence, unemployment, single parenthood, environmental degradation, and hopelessness” compounds the effects of being poor. Sharkey presents evidence that “living in poor neighborhoods over two consecutive generations reduces children’s cognitive skills by roughly eight or nine points … roughly equivalent to missing two to four years of schooling.” Sharkey’s findings shed light on the factors that have stalled progress to close the African American educational achievement gap. Stuck in Place should also encourage conversation on the efficacy of federal K-12 education policies. Read the article here

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