Poverty

From districts to schools: The distribution of resources across schools in big city school districts

From districts to schools: The distribution of resources across schools in big city school districts
Economics of Education Review Oct 2007, Vol. 26 Issue 5, p532-545, 14p

Rubenstein, R. & Schwartz, A.E., Stiefel, L., Bel Hadj Amor, H.
10/01/2007

While the distribution of resources across school districts is well studied, relatively little attention has been paid to how resources are allocated to individual schools inside those districts. This paper explores the determinants of resource allocation across schools in large districts based on factors that reflect differential school costs or factors that may, in practice, be related to the distribution of resources. Using detailed data on school resources and student and school characteristics in New York City, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio, we find that schools with higher percentages of poor pupils often receive more money and have more teachers per pupil, but the teachers tend to be less educated and less well paid, with a particularly consistent pattern in New York City schools. We conclude with implications for policy and further research.

Toward a Mandatory Working Policy for Men

Toward a Mandatory Working Policy for Men
The Future of Children, Vol. 17, no. 2

Mead, L.
09/01/2007

Lawrence Mead addresses the problem of nonwork among low-income men, particularly low-income black men, and its implications for families and children. The poor work effort, he says, appears to be caused partly by falling wages and other opportunity constraints but principally by an oppositional culture and a breakdown of work discipline. Mead argues that if government policies are to increase work among poor men, they must not merely improve wages and skills but enforce work in available jobs. Using the same "help with hassle" approach that welfare reform has used successfully to increase work among poor mothers, policymakers should adapt the child support enforcement and criminal justice systems so that both actively help their clients find employment and then back up that help with a requirement that they work. Men with unpaid child support judgments and parolees leaving prison would be told to get a job or pay up, as they are now. But if they did not, they would be remanded to a required work program where their efforts to work would be closely supervised. They would have to participate and get a private job and have their subsequent employment verified. Failing that, they would be assigned to work crews, where again compliance would be verified. Men who failed to participate and work steadily would--unless there were good cause--be sent back to the child support or parole authorities to be imprisoned. But men who complied would be freed from the work program after a year or two. They would then revert to the looser supervision practiced by the regular child support and parole systems. If their employment record deteriorated, they could again be remanded to the work program. Mead estimates that such a program would involve as many as 1.5 million men who are already in the child support and criminal justice systems and would cost $2.4 billion to $4.8 billion a year. It is premature, says Mead, for such a program to be mandated nationwide. Rather, the best role for national policy at this point is to establish and evaluate promising model programs to see which work best.

Financial Performance and Outreach: A Global Analysis of Leading Microbanks

Financial Performance and Outreach: A Global Analysis of Leading Microbanks
Economic Journal, February 2007, Vol. 117, Issue 517, pp. F107-F133

Morduch, J., Cull, R. & Demirguc-Kunt, A.
02/01/2007

Microfinance promises to reduce poverty by employing profit-making banking practices in low-income communities. Many microfinance institutions have secured high loan repayment rates but, so far, relatively few earn profits. We examine why this promise remains unmet. We explore patterns of profitability, loan repayment, and cost reduction with unusually high-quality data on 124 institutions in 49 countries. The evidence shows the possibility of earning profits while serving the poor, but a trade-off emerges between profitability and serving the poorest. Raising fees to very high levels does not ensure greater profitability and the benefits of cost-cutting diminish when serving better-off customers.

Can Public Schools Close the Race Gap? Probing the Evidence in a Large Urban School District

Can Public Schools Close the Race Gap? Probing the Evidence in a Large Urban School District
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 26(1): 7-30.

Stiefel, L., Schwartz, A.E., Gould & I.E.
01/01/2007

We examine the size and distribution of the gap in test scores across races within New York City public schools and the factors that explain these gaps. While gaps are partially explained by differences in student characteristics, such as poverty, differences in schools attended are also important. At the same time, substantial within-school gaps remain and are only partly explained by differences in academic preparation across students from different race groups. Controlling for differences in classrooms attended explains little of the remaining gap, suggesting little role for within-school inequities in resources. There is some evidence that school characteristics matter. Race gaps are negatively correlated with school size - implying small schools may be helpful. In addition, the trade-off between the size and experience of the teaching staff in urban schools may carry unintended consequences for within-school race gaps.

Disentangling the Racial Test Score Gap: Probing the Evidence in a Large Urban School District

Disentangling the Racial Test Score Gap: Probing the Evidence in a Large Urban School District
Journal of Policy Analysis & Management, Winter 2007, Vol. 26 Issue 1, p7-30, 24p.

Stiefel, L., Schwartz, A.E. & Ellen, I.G.
01/01/2007

We examine the size and distribution of the gap in test scores across races within New York City public schools and the factors that explain these gaps. While gaps are partially explained by differences in student characteristics, such as poverty, differences in schools attended are also important. At the same time, substantial within-school gaps remain and are only partly explained by differences in academic preparation across students from different race groups. Controlling for differences in classrooms attended explains little of the remaining gap, suggesting little role for within-school inequities in resources. There is some evidence that school characteristics matter. Race gaps are negatively correlated with school size-implying small schools may be helpful. In addition, the trade-off between the size and experience of the teaching staff in urban schools may carry unintended consequences for within-school race gaps. © 2006 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

From Districts to Schools: The Distribution of Resources across Schools in Big City School Districts

From Districts to Schools: The Distribution of Resources across Schools in Big City School Districts
Economics of Education Review, 26: 532-545.

Rubenstein, R. & Schwartz, A.E., Stiefel, L.
01/01/2007

This paper explores the determinants of resource allocation across schools in large districts and examines options for improving resource distribution patterns. Previous research on intra-district allocations consistently reveals resource disparities across schools within districts, particularly in the distribution of teachers. While overall expenditures are sometimes related to the characteristics of students in schools, the ratio of teachers per pupil is consistently larger in high-poverty, high-minority and low-performing schools. These teachers, though, generally have lower experience and education levels - and consequently, lower salaries - as compared to teachers in more advantaged schools. We explore these patterns in New York City,  Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio by estimating de facto expenditure equations relating resource measures to school and student characteristics. Consistent with previous research, we find schools that have higher percentages
of poor pupils receive more money and have more teachers per pupil, but the teachers tend to be less educated and less well paid, with a particularly consistent pattern in New York City schools. The paper concludes with policy options for changing intradistrict resource distributions in order to promote more efficient, more equitable or more effective use of resources. These options include allocating dollars rather than teacher positions to schools, providing teacher pay differentials in hard-to-staff schools and subjects, and adapting current district-based funding formulas to the school (and student) level.

In their own words: trauma and substance abuse in the lives of formerly homeless women with serious mental illness

In their own words: trauma and substance abuse in the lives of formerly homeless women with serious mental illness
American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 76(4): 461-467.

Padgett, D. K., Hawkins, R. L., Abrams, C., & Davis, A.
10/01/2006

In-depth interviews were conducted with 13 formerly homeless mentally ill women to capture their individual life trajectories of mental illness, substance abuse, and trauma in their own words. Cross-case analyses produced 5 themes: (a) betrayals of trust, (b) graphic or gratuitous nature of traumatic events, (c) anxiety about leaving their immediate surroundings (including attending group treatment programs), (d) desire for one's own space, and (e) gender-related status loss and stigmatization. Findings suggest formerly homeless mentally ill women need (and want) autonomy, protection from further victimization, and assistance in restoring status and devalued identity. Avenues for intervention include enhanced provider training, addressing experiences of betrayal and trauma, and more focused attention to current symptoms rather than previous diagnoses.

Race, Segregation, and Physicians' Participation in Medicaid

Race, Segregation, and Physicians' Participation in Medicaid
The Milbank Quarterly Vol. 84, Iss. 2, June

Greene, J., Blustein, J. & Weitzman, B.C.
06/01/2006

Many studies have explored the extent to which physicians’ characteristics and Medicaid program factors influence physicians’ decisions to accept Medicaid patients. In this article, we turn to patient race/ethnicity and residential segregation as potential influences. Using the 2000/2001 Community Tracking Study and other sources we show that physicians are significantly less likely to participate in Medicaid in areas where the poor are nonwhite and in areas that are racially segregated. Surprisingly—and contrary to the prevailing Medicaid participation theory—we find no link between poverty segregation and Medicaid participation when controlling for these racial factors. Accordingly, this study contributes to an accumulating body of circumstantial evidence that patient race influences physicians’ choices, which in turn may contribute to racial disparities in access to health care.

Reliability and Validity of the Spanish Versions of the Crisis in Family Systems - Revised

Reliability and Validity of the Spanish Versions of the Crisis in Family Systems - Revised
Psychological Reports, Feb 2006, Vol. 98 Issue 1, p123-132, 10p.

Berry, C., Quinn, K.A., Portillo, N. & Shalowitz, M.
02/01/2006

Increasing the representation of Spanish-speaking study participants requires development and dissemination of reliable and valid translated scales. In the current study the construct validity was assessed of the Spanish version of the Crisis in Family Systems-Revised, a measure of contemporary life stressors, with a convenience sample of 377 parents interviewed in a study of childhood asthma, although over half of the respondents did not have children with asthma. Most respondents were foreign-born women between 20 to 60 years old (M = 35, SD = 7). 52% had not completed high school or its equivalent, and 55% reported a household income of $15,000 or less. For a subsample of 25 respondents test-retest reliability was .86 over 2 wk. Reporting more life stressors was associated with greater depressive symptomatology, poorer physical and mental health function, and lower household income. These relationships support the construct validity of the test in Spanish. This study provided strong evidence that this version is a valid and reliable measure of life stressors for a Spanish-speaking population living in the United States.

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