Illinois' poverty rate is the highest it's been in about 55 years, says a new study by the Social Impact Research Center. It's been on a steady rise for the last fifteen years, with 14.7 percent of Illinoisans now living at or below the poverty line as defined the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The surge in the number of disadvantaged children in the nation's public classrooms is a recent phenomenon that has triggered awareness among researchers, public officials and educators. As a result of the shift to a majority-poor student population, more children than ever now start kindergarten noticeably lagging behind their privileged public school peers.
The safety net worked. While official poverty rates -- which exclude much of the value of the safety net -- increased from 12.5 percent to 15 percent, 2007-11, the alternative measure, though higher at a point in time (accurately measured, there are more poor people than the official measure reveals), was essentially unchanged. That's right -- the deepest recession since the Great Depression and poverty didn't go up, at least not when you measure it correctly. I'm not saying we don't have work to do when it comes to a functional, efficient government sector... there's a whole lot to improve. But folks really need to look at these issues with open eyes, minds, and non-jerking knees. You might be pleasantly surprised.