Study: Students living in poverty fall behind in school - WNEM TV 5

Study: Students living in poverty fall behind in school

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

Michigan is ranked 40th in the nation for education.

Among Michigan's fourth graders, 71 percent are not proficient in reading. The same percentage applies to eighth graders with math. Also, more than half of children ages 3 to 4 are not in school.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation said students struggling with poverty often fall further behind their classmates.

"It's hard to make a living around here," said Rabbi Levi, parent.

Levi is struggling to make ends meet. He is just one of many people dealing with poverty in Michigan.

According to the latest U.S. Census numbers, child poverty is up 23 percent statewide.

Levi has a daughter and he worried about how he'll provide for his little one.

Levi and his neighbors on Roberts Street in Saginaw received good news on Tuesday. They're receiving help in the form of a sweat equity. Their homes are being spruced by by volunteers taking part in the One Week One Street event.

Yvette Jimenez lives on the block. She remembers the tough times she had raising her nephew.

"It was hard. We lived off of $700 a month," Jimenez said.

Meanwhile, the volunteers said they're glad they can help.

"I think that we all belong to one human family and if other people suffer we all suffer. And so we should care and help one another," said Terri Grierson, volunteer.

Grierson is a volunteer with the Youth Encounter Service Program, a faith based student volunteer initiative.

Grierson said she's seen the effects of child poverty firsthand.

"They struggle from childhood on and they're never really able to develop into the person that God meant them to be or to reach their full potential," Grierson said.

The students, like Nicole Vogelpohl, said what they've learned about poverty will leave a lasting impression on them.

"It's just amazing some of their stories to hear. And to actually know that this is a real problem in the world and it just really kind of takes you back and it makes you want to help more," Vogelpohl said.

Child poverty in Saginaw has decreased by 2 percent over the last nine years. While 25 percent of the county's children still live below the poverty line, residents like Levi aren't giving up hope.

"Everyone should just remain positive. You know, look up to the bright side of things and keep fighting and keep putting in applications," Levi said.

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