This morning the local paper reported the metro area I live in is the poorest area of more than 500,000 people in the country. An estimated 37.7% of the population lives in poverty.
Poverty is a complex problem, and reducing the poverty rate requires multiple, long-term approaches. An essential element, however, is increasing quality of education and access to education so that more people succesfully complete higher levels of schooling.
Educational attainment is definitely part of the poverty problem in the Rio Grande Valley. According to the U.S Census Bureau, in Hidalgo County only 61% of the people 25 years or older have at least a high school diploma. Only 16% have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
How does this relate to poverty levels? People 25 years or older who have less than a high school diploma have median yearly earnings of $11,207. With a bachelor’s degree those earnings jump to $42,326.
So thank you to all the teachers in the Rio Grande Valley. And a special thank you to those who are working to make sure the education our children receive is both excellent and equitable. We have a lot of work to do!