Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008- Poverty

In America, we often hear about poverty in third world countries, but we don't always hear enough about the poverty that exists at home.

One of the poorest states in the U.S. is Mississippi, and the Delta is the poorest region of the state. I've talked about the Delta before. I talked of it's culture and beauty and, briefly, touched on the poverty that reigns in the region.

Here are more in-depth facts about poverty in the Delta.

In 2005, the U.S. Census Bureau showed 18 counties in Mississippi had over 30 percent of the population living below poverty level

Of the 100 U.S Counties with the highest child poverty levels, 17 counties are in Mississippi. Most of those 17 are in the Delta.

31 percent of Mississippi children live below poverty level according to data at the National Center for Children in Poverty.

Flickr: jwinfred here and here

One of the greatest challenges facing children in the Delta is a receiving a quality education.

Mississippi consistently ranks among the lowest states in regards to educational spending. The Census Bureau reported in the 2005-2006 school year, in "Per Pupil Spending" Mississippi ranked 45th of 50 states.

In addition to low funding, schools in the Delta have also faced teacher shortages. To help address the critical teacher shortage, in 1989, the Mississippi Teacher Corps was founded.

Run through The University of Mississippi, the Mississippi Teacher Corps is a two-year program, designed for non-education majors, placing teachers in classrooms in the Delta.

In addition to receiving a salary, benefits, and teaching experience, participants receive full scholarship for a master's degree in education from the university (the coursework is completed over the two year period of teaching, so that when they graduate from the program, the participants also receive their degree.)

Here is a video that tells more about the program and the work they do.

Teach for America also serves the Mississippi Delta through its program. With the commitment of these organizations, the gap in education is closing, but there is still a long road ahead for children in the Delta to make the climb out of poverty.

Donations can be made to the Mississippi Teacher Corps or to Teach for America specifically for their Mississippi Delta program.

Thank you, Pia, for making me aware of this day.

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