A couple of weeks back I ragged on Mississippi for “flunking health again.” This time it’s another distressing report on the state of Mississippi children by “Kids Count” – done annually by the national Annie E. Casey Foundation – that’s giving me serious Sunday heartburn.
Dismal data abound on a wide range of indicators related to education, health and safety, employment, and more; it’s a long list. Most disturbing to me is the poverty rate for children, since poverty is a linchpin indicator of so much else that’s bad. Fully 37.5% of Mississippi kids under 5, the most vulnerable of all, live in poverty, with the percentage dropping only 7.3% for kids 5-17. Worst of all, 15% of all Mississippi children live in “extreme poverty,” i.e. in families whose incomes are less than half of the (pathetically low) federal poverty line.
We (or at least our political leadership) fantasize that charter schools, and not adequate funding, will turn around our struggling education system. We worry that we simply can’t afford to get in bed with the federal government to expand Medicaid, despite the crying need for coverage. In the meantime, far too many of our children and young people are suffering far, far too much.