Census shows graduation rates up slightly

Coloradans have lower real incomes, a higher percent are living in poverty and fewer own their own homes than the year before the recession began in 2007, according to an I-News analysis of new census figures released Wednesday night.

The analysis also found glimmers of good news: high school and college graduation rates among adults edged up, and the percent of Coloradans without health insurance is slowly declining.

The latest economic data came from the 2011 American Community Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau for every state and for cities and counties with 65,000 or more in population.

The survey found that median household incomes in the state had declined by about 7.5 percent to $55,387 between 2007 and 2011 when adjusted for inflation.

Census findings – education
  • In 2011, the survey found only two counties with 65,000 or more residents where more than half the adults aged 25 and over held college degrees – Boulder and Douglas.
  • Statewide in 2011, the survey found 37 percent of adults aged 25 and over held college degrees. In Denver, the figure was 43 percent.
  • Among cities with 65,000 or more residents, the survey found two where fewer than a quarter of the adults aged 25 and over held college degrees – Greeley and Pueblo.

Census findings – poverty

  • In 2011, the two counties with 65,000 or more residents reporting the highest child poverty rates were Denver and Pueblo.
  • That year, the two counties reporting the lowest child poverty rates were Boulder and Douglas.
  • Only two municipalities reported child poverty rates in the single digits in 2011 – Douglas County and Highlands Ranch, located within Dougco.

Census findings – income

  • In 2011, Highlands Ranch reported the highest median household income at more than $100,000 while Pueblo City reported the lowest at under $33,000.

Learn more

During the same time, the percent of the state’s residents living below the poverty level rose from 12 percent to 13.5 percent and the percent of children in poverty increased from 16.3 to 17.9.

State Demographer Elizabeth Garner said the figures reflect the fact that employment is not expected to return to 2007 levels until 2014 or 2015.

“We’re several hundred thousand more people than we were in 2007 and there are actually fewer jobs,” Garner said.

Home ownership rates continued to decline with 64.4 percent of Coloradoans owning their own homes last year compared to almost 69 percent in 2007, the year before the recession began.

Those same economic indicators showed little change between 2010 and 2011.

The percent of Coloradans without health insurance has declined over the past three years. The Census Bureau did not start including questions on health insurance in the survey until 2008.

Last year, 15.1 percent of the state’s residents said they were uninsured compared to 16.7 percent in 2008.

The drop among children was more dramatic, failing from 13.8 percent uninsured in 2008 to 9.4 percent in 2011.

Garners said part of the drop reflects more people qualifying for Medicaid.

“You get yourself so poor, you actually qualify for Medicaid,” she said.

In addition, more older children are now being covered under their parents’ policies, she said, because of health care reform.

High school and college degrees also have gone up slightly since 2007. The percent of adults 25 years and over with high school degrees rose from 88.9 to 90.2 and the percent with college degrees went from 35 to 36.7.

Garner said that also reflects a weak job market.

“If there is a silver lining, it’s if people are unable to get a job, they are going back to school or deciding to stay in school,” she said.

“If there is a silver lining, it’s if people are unable to get a job, they are going back to school or deciding to stay in school.”
– Demographer Elizabeth Garner

The census data also looked at martial status for Coloradans 15 years and older and found a continuing trend toward fewer married residents and more unmarried residents.

Married Coloradans now make up barely over half of state residents – 50.9 percent compared to 52 percent in 2007. Coloradans who reported they have never married now comprise 30.9 percent of those 15 years and older, up from 29.4 percent in 2007.

Census data on commuting patterns found little changes over the four years between 2007 and 2011. About 75 percent of Coloradans still drive alone to work, 10 percent carpool and 3 percent take public transportation.

  • In partnership: The I-News Network is a nonprofit newsroom collaborating with Colorado news organizations to cover important issues. Learn more.

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.

For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.

Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.