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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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Gov. Whitmer endorses Kamala Harris for president, says she's not leaving Michigan; Grilled by lawmakers on the Trump assassination attempt, Secret Service director says, 'We failed;' Teachers rally at national convention in Houston; Opioid settlement fund fuels anti-addiction battle in Indiana; Nonprofit agency says corporate donations keep programs going.

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Democrats consolidate support behind Vice President Harris, Republicans threaten legal action over changes to the presidential ticket, and a possible bipartisan consensus forms on the failure of the Secret Service to protect former President Trump.

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It's grass-cutting season and with it, rural lawn mower races, Montana's drive-thru blood project is easing shortages, rural Americans spend more on food when transportation costs are tallied, and a lack of good childcare is thwarting rural business owners.

Report: AZ's educational system failing its students

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Wednesday, June 12, 2024   

Arizona's overall child well-being ranks 42nd in the nation. The latest Annie E. Casey "Kids Count" Data Book looks at markers to see how well children are prepared to enter a growingly competitive workforce.

January Contreras, CEO of the Children's Action Alliance, said there are fewer children living in high-poverty areas and they are seeing fewer children whose parents lack secure employment. But she added the state is facing other significant challenges.

"Children living in households with high housing-cost burden - that increased. And a lot of the work done in this report brings attention to learning where are our are kids, chronic absenteeism. And Arizona is a state that has concerning chronic absenteeism," Contreras said.

Arizona had the highest percentage of students who are chronically absent, coming in at 46%. Contreras said this can happen when children have health issues, need to help with younger siblings or are in unstable housing situations. She suggested policymakers look at the report holistically and realize these metrics don't take place in a silo.

Contreras said each child and family is unique and can be influenced by adverse childhood experiences - such as economic hardships, divorcing or separating parents or witnessing violence. These traumatic events can have ripple effects on kids, and she wants state leaders to prioritize support and assistance.

"We need those school counselors and social workers. We need for there to be strong parent engagement programs. And schools when they can, make sure to eliminate some of the barriers that come for kids, like accessing free breakfast and lunch programs," she continued.

She added states should take advantage of pandemic relief funding to help kick-start initiatives to prioritize their students physical, emotional, social and academic well-being.

The report shows compared to similar nations, the U.S. isn't equipping its children with high-level reading, math and digital problem-solving skills.

Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, argues action is needed.

"26% of fourth-graders are reading proficiently and about a third of eighth-graders are proficient in basic math. The numbers have never been significantly higher than that. So, as a country, we're failing to prepare our children to be able to compete in the competitive global workforce," she stressed.

Disclosure: Annie E Casey Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Education, Juvenile Justice, Welfare Reform. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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