Report: Nearly a quarter of Texas children live in poverty

FILE - Classroom (KXAN File Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A new report detailing some of the biggest problems with schools in Texas was released Wednesday morning.

Poverty rates for Hispanic and black children are nearly three times higher than white or Asians.

The State of Texas Children report is part of the Kids Count project, a national and state-by-state effort to track the status of children in the U.S. funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The goal  is to educate and encourage lawmakers to pump additional funding into programs that can help children become better learners in the classroom.

When it comes to a child’s well-being – meaning the school they attend, the neighborhood they live in, and their access to health care – Texas ranks 41 in the nation. It found with nearly seven million kids growing up in Texas half are Hispanic, 33 percent are white , 11 percent are black and 6 percent Asian. But the poverty rates for Hispanic and black children are nearly three times higher than white or Asians.

The study found 1.7 million children live in poverty. It was that finding that led researchers to look at the bigger picture of what that means for education and  healthcare. The study found 33 percent of black children have harder access to food and 15 percent of Hispanic children do not have health insurance – one of the highest rates in the nation. This same group is underrepresented in STEM classes – especially girls in AP computer science classes and are more likely to attend high poverty high schools.

What can be done?

Researchers recommend state lawmakers look at more school funding especially for ESL learners.

“There’s a lot of research that shows all of the cognitive benefits that come with being bilingual because they see the benefits both personally and professional so I think we have a great base to start from to educate an entire generation of bilingual students and workers,” said Jennifer Lee, Research Associate, Center for Public Policy Priorities.

The report found some encouraging news – no matter the race the number of students graduating from high school within four years is increasing.

The State of Texas Children report has been conducted annually for the past 20 years.