In a recent article in the New York Times, Adam Davidson the creator of NPR and This American Life’s “Planet Money” podcast and blog, described the economic diversity in Greenwich. While the town is mostly known for it’s remarkable wealth, it also has a sizable population of working class people. Nearly 4 percent live below the federal poverty line. Although it’s a town with expensive housing, the draw for many is the schools. And, Davidson writes, studies have shown that low income students ido better in wealthy schools than in poor ones. He writes about Greenwich High School:
“Around 13 percent of the school’s students receive free or discounted lunches, a commonly used proxy for low income. And more than three-quarters of those students scored at or above proficiency on the most recent statewide 10th-grade performance tests. At nearby Stamford High School, where nearly 70 percent of students are on the lunch program, almost half the students failed to meet proficiency levels.”
Davidson spoke with Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, who says about 10 percent of all students in the country are in districts that have some kind of economic-integration policy.
“The remarkable thing about economic integration, Kahlenberg says, is that it seems to improve outcomes for the poor without diminishing educational attainment among the rich. Christopher Winters, headmaster of Greenwich High School, says that the greater diversity of the population makes for a better educational experience for all students. The low-income population has nearly doubled in the past seven years at Greenwich High, and no parent, he said, has complained.”
Recently a national anti-hunger advocacy group ranked Connecticut as the 6th best state for access to affordable and nutritious food—what’s also called community food security. But a study released Wednesday by UConn’s Zwick Center for Food and Resource Policy shows that things are pretty tough in some areas.
You can hear Will Stone’s report on food insecurity here:
1 in 6 children in New London County is food insecure. That means they and their families don’t have reliable access to affordable food for a number of reasons—transportation, education, geography and income, all play a role.
It’s not all about economic disparity for this issue. The per capita income in the city of New London is $21,000, while neighboring Stonington is almost twice that. But the report shows Stonington still has a higher than average risk of food insecurity.
“Every town in the county has an at-risk population,” says Mary Gates, who’s been conducting focus groups on food insecurity for the New London Food Policy Council. “I want to make sure that people don’t look at Stonington or Mystic and say there can’t be hungry people there.”
NAACP members in greater New Haven are calling on the federal and state government to re-examine the disparities between low-income people of color in urban neighborhoods and white people in the suburbs. The report, called “Urban Apartheid,” looks at disparities in areas like education, income, and housing.
You can hear Will Stone’s story on the report here:
NAACP Chapter President James Rawlings says the findings show that place matters. He means neighborhoods in and around New Haven where, for example, the poor are six times less likely to have access to transportation, which in turn affects their chances of employment. A quarter of African American men in the region were unemployed in 2011. Rawlings says it all comes back to the educational achievement gap, and he says the key is removing children from what he calls “unhealthy communities.”
“The transportation system isn’t there to support the children, libraries are not there to support the child, the family wrap-around services are not there to support the child,” he says.
The NAACP is recommending that affordable housing be placed in more suburban communities, where the air is cleaner and there’s less crime.