How much do kids count?

In Texas, the answer is not much at all.

Between 2000 and 2008, the number of Texas kids living in poverty grew by 240,000, accounting for 23 percent of the total child population. The national child poverty rate is 18 percent. [Frances Deviney, president of the Texas KIDS Count branch housed at the Center for Public Policy Priorities] also said Texas ranks last in child food insecurity, meaning 1.6 million Texas children don’t know where their next meal will come from. According to the 2006-08 survey conducted by the KIDS Count data center, hungry children are more likely to miss school, be less attentive in class, and fail or drop out of school.

Other key indicators for Texas kids:

—Low birthweight babies have increased in Texas by 17 percent since 2000.

—Infant mortality has spiked by 11 percent since 2000.

—The number of children with special health or medical needs has jumped by 42 percent since 2001.

—Economically disadvantaged children are more likely to fail the TAKS test.

—About 72 percent of Texas fourth graders are not proficient in reading, putting Texas in the bottom quarter of reading proficiency.

During this time, we’ve created a multibillion dollar structural deficit by irresponsibly cutting property taxes, thrown hundreds of thousands of kids off of CHIP, and frozen allocations for school districts at 2006 levels. That’s even before we deal with the current budget shortfall and the fanatical desire among Republican base voters to ensure people remain uninsured. Yeah, we pretty much don’t give a crap about kids in this state. BOR has more.

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