A Portrait of Head Start in the South

Publication Summary:

In its most recent Kids Count report, the Annie E. Casey Foundation warned that states in the Southern region generally ranked low on a composite index of child well-being (economic, education, health, and family and community factors), noting that “states in the Southeast, Southwest and Appalachia — where the poorest states are located — populated the bottom of the overall rankings. In fact, with the exception of California, the 15 lowest-ranked states were located in these regions.”1 Low-income students (those qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch, at or below 185% of the federal poverty level) are now the majority in Southern schools, creating unique challenges. As the Southern Education Foundation reported, “In this brave, new world, the people and policymakers of Southern states must realize that continuing the current, uneven level of educational progress will be disastrous. They must understand more fully that today their future and their grandchildren’s future are inextricably bound to the success or failure of low income students in the South. If this new majority of students fail in school, an entire state and an entire region will fail simply because there will be inadequate human capital in Southern states to build and sustain good jobs, an enjoyable quality of life, and a well-informed democracy. It is that simple.”2 At the same time, the South is the region with the faster growing population in the country, with an increasing share of residents who were born outside the region.

Author(s): Megan Carolan
Publication Date: October 2016
Publication Type: Policy Brief
Publication Topic: Early Learning & Care
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