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New Data Reveals Half of Rochester City Students Are Living in Poverty

According to new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly half of the children enrolled in the Rochester City School District are currently living in poverty. Despite money from the state to help families move forward, the city is still seeing increases in the poverty rate.

Although data revealed a decrease in overall poverty rates from 33.8% to 33.5%, there was an increase in the rate of extreme poverty. People living in extreme poverty are those with incomes at less than half of the federal poverty line. This percentage increased from 16.4% to 17%. The City of Rochester Mayor’s Office of Innovation collected statistics in partnership with the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative (RMAPI) and ACT Rochester based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Leonard Brock, RMAPI director, explained that the data compiled will help the RMAPI create solutions to put an end to poverty within the city. He said that it will take about a year to see any significant results, but that the group’s initiatives are already in effect.

Rochester is still ranked as the fourth-poorest city in the U.S., and continues to rank fourth in terms of child poverty, as well. Three-fourths of children in the U.S. participate in a preschool program, but the poverty rate may be affecting that number in a negative way.

Governor Andrew Cuomo dedicated $16 million to programs in Monroe County dedicated to ending poverty, and while it has helped Monroe Community College establish workforce training programs, significant results have yet to be discovered.

Many people believe that putting money towards job training simply isn’t enough. Rather, addressing early education with more funding could be a better solution. A landmark decision in Connecticut this fall ordered revamping of nearly every facet of educational practices and policies in the state, including how schools are funded.

Research on how school funding affected student learning has been inconclusive until now. A recent study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research examined test scores from 26 states that have all changed their school funding methodologies since 1990. While no two states were identical, every state increased funding for the poorest districts.

The researchers discovered states that allocate additional money to the poorest districts see more academic improvement than those states that don’t. The study revealed that the funding changes saw at least twice as much academic improvement per dollar.

The study also measured long-term results, such as how long students stayed in school and what their income looked like when they reached adulthood. These areas both saw improvement with more money spent at an early level of education.

Perhaps more cases like Connecticut’s will arise to make the argument that money spent on education will help decrease the rate of poverty in the future.

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