The next time (and it'll be soon) that you hear Wisconsin state legislators talking about problems with our public schools and the need to "reform" them by taking them over, converting them to private schools, swiping their funding to subsidize existing private schools and punishing poorly performing public schools with cuts in state aid, just remember this:
A majority of public school pupils across the United States now live in poverty. That's true for the first time in 50 years. All past gains in reducing child poverty, made by the "war on poverty" beginning in the 1960s, now have been reversed, arguably because inflation-adjusted wages for the working poor and the middle class have for much of that time remained stagnant, or have declined.
And it's not just that more kids are living in poverty; it's that among those impoverished kids, a growing number are living in extreme poverty.
Wisconsin, it is true, fairs somewhat better than the norm. Here in the Badger state "only" 41 percent of all public school pupils come from impoverished homes. Still, that's worse than the poverty in nearby Iowa, Minnesota and Ohio.
If it isn't obvious why this is important, the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University explained it in a nutshell: