Running Head: THE STATE OF AMERICA’S CHILDREN 1
State of America’s Children Critical Inquiry Presentation
University of West Alabama
The State of America’s Children 2
Issue Population Gains, Fiduciary Pains
Perspectives Historical Major events (wars, Great Depression, passage of
immigration laws) have affected population growth.
Trends established over a period of almost two centuries
show children of color will be the majority group by
2016. Exacerbating that assumption is the change
expected in the elderly population over the next 35
years. The changing demographics mean schools, the
workforce, and communities will shift. School age
children could suffer losses in education and social
programs because, historically, federal funding for
senior benefits are rarely cut and seniors are capable of
shaping policies and voting in elections. (Passel, 2011)
Pedagogy The number of students per classroom is not expected to
increase; however, the diversity in classrooms will be
more obvious. Bilingual educators and second language
support will be necessary. Culturally responsive,
inclusive classrooms are essential for diverse classrooms
Children of color will be impacted first and foremost as schools attempt to
modify teaching methods and curricula. Jackson (2012) states that retaining
their language and culture is very important to Hispanics. Educators will
continue to need staff development to understand cultures and determine how
students learn best to ensure that everyone gets an appropriate education.
Hispanic families come to America, many of them illegally, in search of
economic gains. As they assimilate, third-generation Hispanics are more likely
to have higher mortality rates caused by excessive alcohol drinking, smoking,
obesity and poor health (Jackson, 2012).
Article: Demography of Immigrant Youth: Past, Present, and Future
Jeffrey S. Passel
The article corroborates the population trends documented in The State of
America’s Children. Due to factors such as increased immigration and higher
fertility rates of Hispanic families, children of color will for the first time in
history outrank other children. The article details how first, second, and third-
generation Hispanic families will impact how we live and work together. Passel
insists that Hispanic families choose to become Americans and many will adopt
and borrow from the culture of Anglo-Americans. This population shift can
have negative consequences unless steps are taken to educate the children,
reduce poverty and violence, and promote healthy lifestyles particularly for
first-generation and African-American students. Students’ cultures must be
valued and respected and at the same time schools must give everyone a fair
chance to learn and succeed. Federal funding and policy making are expected to
be problems for lawmakers as they consider the ramifications of larger
populations in states whose resources are limited.
The State of America’s Children 3
Reflection America is still the richest country on earth, but we fail to use our funds to
ensure that appropriate health care, housing, and child care are available to
children and poor Americans. The data supporting the shifts in population
which will include more children of color is already being realized. Although
the Hispanic children are U.S. citizens, many have parents who have
Democratic values and advocate for big government programs but cannot vote,
qualify for social programs, or acquire jobs which pay taxes. As the population
continues to shift, but not necessarily the power held by the wealthiest 1%, all
people will be affected by the changes (Capra, 2009). The goal should be to
ensure that the children of color do not become part of the chronic poor, but
through social programs, improved health care, and education become
contributing citizens to a society they will shape. At some point in the near
future, the children will become voters capable of electing presidents and
policymakers. Everyone else in America could be assimilating to their way of
Issue The Road Out of Poverty
Perspectives Historical Brown v. Board of Education integrated schools, but it
did not result in an equitable education for all. For years
instruction was designed for the dominant culture
instead of meeting the needs and offering success to all
children through differentiated lessons planned with
various learning styles in mind and multicultural themes.
Children were expected to become similar to white
students in how they learned and processed information.
Poverty generally begins as a temporary condition, but
becomes chronic over time as the cost of living outpaces
the low paying jobs and results in a cycle of latchkey
children, teen pregnancies, homelessness, and
delinquency. However, the government has the ability to
stabilize the families and reduce poverty for many by
making education with a focus on job training accessible
to all and improving the chance that they will have the
finances to take care of their families (Capra, 2009).
Several federal programs were designed to reduce
poverty through education, housing and nutritional
support. Improvements in poverty were noted. But,
when states blame groups for their dilemma, they tend to
provide programs and design policies that are punitive
and sanction families (Alexander, 2010).
Pedagogy The chances of a child becoming capable of ending the
cycle of poverty increases dramatically when he receives
an early start, completes high school, and participates in
The State of America’s Children 4
college or career readiness programs. Educators must be
instrumental in connecting with families and
determining a child’s needs as a prerequisite to
Children of color rank highest on the poverty scale with black children being
However, poverty affects everyone through higher taxes for prisons and
juvenile delinquent programs or programs for teen mothers.
Article: Knowing What Works
Will Engelhardt and Curtis Skinner
Much of the support offered to families in poverty is based on income.
Fortunately, many states have adopted new social policies to measure poverty.
Factors other than income such as housing, medical expenses or work-related
costs affect the ability of parents to provide for their families. The
measurements are designed to determine how long a family has been in poverty
and what caused the situation. Further studies are done to determine which
methods are effective in reducing poverty.
Reflection Poverty is an insatiable cancer which can cause unemployment due to factors
such as a lack of transportation or child care. The lack of jobs affects per capita
tax revenues which reduces the support given to low income citizens and
education. But not only does it eat away at jobs; it separates families and causes
improper nutrition which tends to promote obesity and health problems. The
cycle of poverty can continue for generations. Policymakers and educators
understand that poverty is the single greatest threat to a child’s life, and it
contributes to all sorts of negative consequences including the ability to learn.
Having a society in which the majority of the people are poor and hopeless
threatens an entire way of life.
Family Structure & Income
Issue A Family which Stays Together Tends to Fare Better
The State of America’s Children 5
Perspectives Historical In the 1970s, households were moving rapidly from two
parent families in which the mother remained home with
the children while dad worked to single-parent families
in which the children were left with siblings or
grandparents while both parents worked. This has
caused instability in homes and schools because the
guidance and love necessary to develop social skills or
literacy skills are generally absent.
Pedagogy Many of the problems associated with low self-esteem,
low achievement, and anti-social behavior are connected
to students having a poor start. Working families and
many single family homes cannot afford high quality
child care and rely on alternate, low quality care. This is
manifested in lack of school readiness which breeds
reading problems as the students get older, retention, and
increased drop-out rates (Bailet, Repper, Piasta, &
Single-parent homes and the working poor are affected most. According to
Jackson (2012) as Hispanic families assimilate the rate of single parent homes
Article: Changing Families, Changing Workplaces
Suzanne m. Bianchi
The article reviews how families have changed over time. The implementation
of twelve hour shifts and forced overtime causes working single mothers to
spend many hours away from their children. The article also shows that many
homes are disrupted and left with only one parent around the same time that
children begin kindergarten. This stressor makes the transition from home to
school harder. The advantages of two parent homes include children who are
better adjusted because the family has resources to allow children to live in safe
and secure homes in which their needs are met in addition to being able to
participate in enriching activities such as little league sports or violin lessons.
Vacations and other family activities give them background knowledge to
understand school related concepts and build upon prior knowledge.
Reflection When schools are considered a form of child care instead of a facility for
nurturing the whole child, the family tends not to value what education has to
offer. Children adopt the attitudes of their parents which makes it very difficult
to instill hope for the future in the youth. Becoming a productive citizen and
having a nice life may not necessarily be the outcome they aspire to because
they are focused on eating, remaining safe, and sometimes just staying alive.
Housing & Homelessness
Issue Preventing Homelessness
Policies and studies to reduce homelessness have
resulted in some affordable housing and temporary
The State of America’s Children 6
shelters being made available to families.
McKinney-Vento Act defines homelessness as not
having a permanent residence and ensures stability for
the child in an educational facility.
Pedagogy Children who are homeless tend to miss many days from
school and many opportunities to learn. They usually
have many gaps in learning which affects achievement
(Larocca, Taylor & D’Annolfo, 2014). According to
Friedman, Calano, Bingulac, Miller, and Zeliger (2013)
it also increases the chances that students will not
graduate from high school and end up working a low
paying job themselves.
Children and their families, schools in poor neighborhoods
Article: Children and Homelessness in Massachusetts
Donna Friedman, Katherine Calano, Marija Bingulac, Christine Miller,
Massachusetts has shown lots of improvements in reducing homeless rates. The
study showed that many students who are at-risk academically are also
transient. They attend schools with the overall lowest performance rating
because cheaper housing is generally located in poverty stricken neighborhoods.
Massachusetts has formulated a strategic plan for preventing homelessness
instead of just instituting policy to react to it. In order to do this, the state has
conducted research to locate the homeless population. They disaggregated the
data to determine if families were in need of long term care or intermittent care.
They reconfigured some guidelines to enable those who were eligible to receive
funding and currently have more housing available for families than they do
requests. The state collaborates with many agencies to ensure that housing and
all other needs are being addressed.
Reflection Laws should be in place for families or landlords to report problems with
paying rent or mortgage to agencies who have the family’s best interests at
heart. Since the physical aspect of homelessness does not occur overnight, the
window between declines in income and eviction allows interventions to take
place. The programs and initiatives Massachusetts is implementing should
resound loudly over the rest of the nation. Shelter is a basic needs which should
be guaranteed to all children.
Child Hunger & Nutrition
Issue Hunger Results in Intellectual and Physical Delays in Children
The federal government has established strict nutritional
standards for breakfast and lunch programs at schools so
children eat at least two healthy meals per day during the
The State of America’s Children 7
school week. Summer feeding programs are available in
most states. Other programs have been instituted to
ensure that pregnant mothers, babies, and the elderly
also receive support.
Pedagogy Hunger limits a child’s development physically and
mentally and inhibits the ability to learn.
Poor children of color under age 5 are in most jeopardy of being hungry because
they do not have the advantage of school lunches and are incapable of fending
for themselves. Many of them are children of illegal immigrants who because of
their status do not sign up for social programs.
Reflection Food is a basic need and without it children are exposed to death. A hungry
child has physical pains and psychological distress. Special efforts must be
made to ensure that the school-age child is at least getting breakfast and lunch at
school. Children who are food insecure are often eating foods low in nutritional
value and many of the children are overweight. Nutrition Assistance Program
(SNAP) and Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children
(WIC) which are effectively reducing child hunger and causing the dire
consequences of malnutrition to subside. The task remains to ensure that all
children are eating on a daily basis.
Issue Physical and Mental Health Problems Stymie Growth
Government policies and programs have been effective
in providing insurance for a greater percentage of
children. Health insurance is a catalyst for preventative
care which benefits children and society.
Pedagogy Many factors can contribute to poor health in children,
but if the problems are caught early, the child has a
better chance of developing appropriately and living a
life similar to peers his own age. A healthy child attends
school regularly, stays tuned to classroom activities,
learns to handle situations socially and achieves
academically (LaRocco, Taylor & Annolfo, 2014).
Low income children and children of color receive preventative care and have
access to needed care less often than white children. Lack of health care affects
everyone through increased taxes and programs such as Supplemental Security
Article: Urban Community Schools: Educator Perceptions of the Effects of
Children’s Health and Wellness on Learning
Diana LaRocco, Beth Taylor, Suzanne D’Annolfo
The action research sought to explore a connection between healthy students
and academic success. The result of this research aligns with data from research
conducted nationwide. The study revealed that educators must gain empathy for
The State of America’s Children 8
the children as they learn about their cultures and needs. Family interactions,
tardiness, homelessness, or religion can affect a child’s health problems or
needs. The group determined through observations and academic success that
health problems were caused by stressors which included lack of basic needs,
family life, and environments which negatively affected students. The educators
came to a consensus that the school should meet the needs of the whole child by
offering full services such as daddy groups, nutrition seminars or strategies to
curb disruptive behaviors to its families.
Reflection When the number of children who have access to health insurance actually
acquire and use it, America’s schools will be relatively healthy. Increased
education is needed for parents to encourage proactive practices and to help
parents maintain prescriptions or understand mental health problems. Educating
the whole child means schools and districts must invest in programs to stay
connected to its families and the community.
Issue A strong start for America’s children
Perspectives Historical The need for early childhood education became
necessary as both parents left home to work and as
single-parent homes increased. In addition, the break-
down of the cohesive extended family unit in African
American homes intensified the need for childcare. The
lack of nurturing parental care in the early years when
children require the most molding were connected to a
rise in juvenile crimes, retention rates, and aggressive
behaviors. Early childhood programs have not been
consistently offered, and in times of budget cuts is often
one of the first programs to go.
Several policies and programs have been initiated to
alleviate the problems caused by children who enter
schools unprepared for learning. The Consolidated
Appropriations Act of 2014 restored cuts to early
learning programs. President Obama is advocating for
preschool for all children. Grants are available to states
to develop programs and reduce the cost of quality child
Pedagogy The cost of leveling the playing field for kindergarten
children far exceeds the cost for intervention and
prevention. Early learning programs are a proactive
approach to preventing reading disabilities in older
students. School readiness is a predictor for success in
school and life.
96% of children in need of an early start which includes 3 and 4 year olds of
color are affected. Educational systems are considered failures because even
The State of America’s Children 9
though children have shown great growth, the academic gains were not on grade
Article: Letters to Congress on the Strong Start For America’s Children Act
NEA Issues and Action
The letter highlights the belief that education for America’s 3 and 4 year old
youths has long lasting effects. States should receive grants to partner with
schools and Early Head Start programs. The investment benefits the entire
country in increased graduation rates, reduced poverty, and employed citizens.
Reflection According to Kids Health (2013) reading stimulates the baby, builds memory,
listening and vocabulary, and introduces them to the world around them.
Reading to a child creates a child who reads. When a baby does not benefit from
being communicated and interacted with at an early age when their brains are
developing rapidly, they are placed in the “catch-up” mode. By the time a child
reaches kindergarten at age 5, the teacher and system must expend lots of
energy and expenses to prepare the child to read and compute.
Issue Many Children are being Left Behind
Pedagogy Children living in poverty reside with parents who are
poor and mostly uneducated. Since children tend to
mimic the adults in their lives, a cycle of poverty can be
easily created (LaRocco, Taylor, and D’Annolfo, 2014).
The families offer few activities in the child’s culture or
any culture due to lack of funds. Children are not
socialized through reading and enter school unprepared
to learn. A late start manifests itself through retention,
low academic achievement, high dropout rates and
Students of color fared worse in graduation rates and the ability to read or
compute. Society as a whole feels the brunt of an inadequate education for its
Article: Should Struggling Students Repeat a Grade? (2013)
The article is relevant here because the majority of students retained are
Hispanic and African American. Retention is a punitive strategy designed to
help students catch up. Williams (2013) reports that the gains derived from
retention are short-termed. In addition, the older retained students have social
problems such as bullying or inability to form friendships with younger
students. Retention is thought to be the largest predictor of drop-out rates.
Reflection In order to retain the status of being a world power, America’s citizens must be
educated and capable of governing and making laws, communicating and
trading with others, being fiscally capable, and promoting democratic goals
which include ensuring the well-being of all of its citizens. Educating all
The State of America’s Children
children, regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion should be our goal.
Issue Child Abuse and Neglect are Wide-Ranging
Pedagogy Abused children are often moved from their home
schools as a form of protection. Students are separated
from their friends and families and must adjust to new
learning environments. They sometimes develop
emotional, social, and physical barriers to learning. The
children are often traumatized to the extent that they
began to exhibit problem behaviors which can also
contribute to high dropout rates (Alexander, 2010).
Infants and toddlers, many of whom are placed in foster care and never return to
their families and instead are more likely to go to prison; African American
children- abuse has declined, but is still high.
Article: The Impact of Poverty on African American Children in the Child Welfare
and Juvenile Justice System
The first point of the article as it related to child welfare was that poor, lower
class, and minority children are overrepresented in the child welfare system.
The second point was that children who are in the foster care system for long
periods of time usually do not live socially productive lives as adults. The final
critical point stated that many African American children were in the foster
system for minimalistic reasons such as they were hungry or their clothing was
dirty. They were taken away from parents whose only crime was being poor.
Reflection Many of the supports that are currently being implemented such as affordable
housing, quality child care starting at age three, nutritional programs, revamped
definitions of poverty, tax credits, jobs which pay a living wage, and
appropriate education for all would elevate families out of poverty and
essentially eliminate the need for a child welfare system. Since most children
are not abused, the children would be returned to live with their families. Happy
children tend to do well in school, plan what they want to be when they grow
up, and strive to get there.
Issue Incarceration As the First Option
Perspectives Historical The plight of African Americans has been similar
throughout history; they were imprisoned in
proportionately higher numbers than whites. Prisons
became primary tool for controlling people in poverty
The State of America’s Children
The African American Child Welfare Act was began to
establish a child protection system, educational system
in juvenile delinquency system, and improved health
care. Most of the benefits of the act occur after the child
enters the juvenile justice system. Progress needs to be
made to ensure that children never reach the system by
providing family support, after school programs to
eliminate violence in the environment, and treatment
Pedagogy Children at-risk of school failure usually have trouble
adapting to the school environment and are often
disruptive. Early interventions include suspension from
school which gives the child opportunities to become
involved in other violent or criminal activities. Schools
have a mandate to ensure that all children learn, but
when students’ health or mental needs are not met, the
ability to learn is compromised. Extra supports must
begin at the elementary level so punitive measures can
be eliminated in favor of interventions which eliminate
and improve behaviors.
African American children and other children of color
Article: The Impact of Poverty on African American Children in the Child Welfare
and Juvenile Justice Systems
The poorest Americans are people of color. Not only are they the most likely to
be imprisoned, they are the most likely to have poor health care, a poor
education, be homeless, have improper nutrition, be retained and the list goes on
and on. Research shows that all of the dire conditions African Americans face
are connected and sometimes forced upon them because they are considered
less respectable. The children are adjudicated and placed in the welfare system
for much longer than white children and for offenses which are less violent.
Reflection The parents of African American children have come under much scrutiny for
how they raised their children and particularly for spanking. Parents have taken
a hands-off approach to raising their children because abuse charges send them
to jail, and they did not have alternative approaches for redirecting behaviors.
Assimilating to the dominant culture’s child rearing practices has not been as
beneficial as society planned. Family support is needed, but knowledge of
children and families is essential.
Issue Do laws of the land enable youthful offenders?
The State of America’s Children
Schools have strict policies about having weapons on
school grounds, but the availability of weapons makes
them easy to attain and they continue to be a leading
cause of death for all children, but rank first among
African American children.
Pedagogy Gun violence has the ability to end educational
aspirations forever for the youth committing the violent
act and the person who is the recipient of the attack. For
children who must live in constant fear of an attack, the
ability to learn and feel safe at school is compromised.
Caring, safe school environments are necessary for
African American children, all of society
Article: Victories Over Violence: The Quest for Safe Schools and Communities
Martin Mitchell, & Larry Brendtro
The second amendment to the constitution states, "A well-regulated militia
being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and
bear arms shall not be infringed." The right to own guns supersedes any debate
about the availability of weapons to youth or irresponsible behaviors which
allow weapons to go unaccounted. Gun-lobbyists generally refuse any attempt
at sensible gun control because giving in a little might mean all rights could be
taken away. Research has shown that many youthful offenders have been
bullied or fail in personal relationships, but just as many youth have shown no
signs of discontent. A proactive approach is needed to teach children to respect
others, embrace diversity, problem solve, and connect to at least one adult.
Reflection Students prone to violent behavior sometimes lack interpersonal skills to enjoy
friendships and socialize with other youths. Additional factors include mental
health problems, bullying, or family problems. Designing networks to connect
school, home and community are essential to understanding children and
providing the health care, mental care, or support needed. Reducing the
availability of guns to children and teens is critical.
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and juvenile justice systems. Forum on Public Policy 2010(4), 1-16. Retrieved from
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for Prekindergarteners at Risk for Reading Failure. Journal of Learning Disabilities 42(4),
336-353. doi 10.1177/002221940335218
The State of America’s Children
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Children’s Defense Fund (2014). The state of America’s children. Retrieved from
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Friedman, D. H., Calano, K., Bingulac, M., Miller, C., & Zeliiger, A. (2013). Children and
homelessness in Massachusetts. New England Journal of Public Policy 25(1), 1-12.
Jackson, T. (2012). How well do Hispanics assimilate? Retrieved from amren.com
Kids Health (2013) Reading books to babies. Retrieved from kidshealth.org
Kusler, M. (2013). Letters to congress on the strong start for America’s children act. Retrieved
LaRocco, D. J., Taylor, B. A., D’Annolfo, S.C. (2014). Urban community schools: Educator
perceptions of the effects of children’s health and wellness on learning. Current Issues in
Education 17(1), 1-10.
Mitchell, M. L. & Brendtro, L.K., (2013). Victories over violence: The quest for safe schools and
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Passel, J. S. (2011). Demography of immigrant youth: Past, present, and future. Future of
Children 21(1), 19-41.
Scott, M. T. (2012). Socio-emotional and psychological issues and needs of gifted African-
American students: Culture matters. Interdisciplinary Journal of Teaching and Learning
2(1), 23-33. Retrieved from eds.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.uwa.edu2048/eds/pdfviewer
Williams, J. (2013). Should struggling students repeat a grade? Retrieved from education.com