As Young Children Head Back to School, the Importance of Early Education is Clear

Sep 03, 2013

By Hannah Matthews

Summer has come to a close and young children across the country have put away their swimsuits, gathered up their books and are heading back to school. For some, it may be their first experience in the K-12 school system. According to new analysis from Child Trends, 4 million young children will begin kindergarten this fall. Their backpack-toting pictures are popping up in our Facebook news feeds and on the pages of local newspapers across the country.

What the photos do not reveal is the heavy load that many of our youngsters will unwittingly carry with them into their school experiences.  According to the Child Trends profile, 1 in 4 of these young learners lives in poverty. And nearly half live in low-income families with incomes below twice the federal poverty level, or less than $40,000/year for a family of three. Millions of those smiling and eager students walking down our sidewalks and climbing onto yellow school buses are living in families struggling with the challenges of unemployment and low-wage work. Their parents struggle to put food on the table and are seeing a middle-class existence further and further out of reach.

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