‘Poor’ understanding: Experts say bootstrap mentality falls short

Ignoring poverty means stifling future growth, said Ed Sivak, director for the Mississippi Economic Policy Center. “If a third of our children in Mississippi are in poverty, it means a third of our future work force will be in poverty, too. Unless we make this issue a priority, the economic potential of our state is capped.”

Phil Reed, president of Voice of Calvary Ministries in Jackson, said the cycle of poverty in Mississippi is more difficult to break. “It’s second-, third- and fourth-generational poverty.”

More than a fifth of Mississippians (22.4 percent) now live in poverty. Three times as many African-American children (48 percent) live in poverty as do white children (16 percent).

“Where one is born and where one is raised matters in Mississippi,” Sivak and Sarah Welker wrote in their 2011 report for the Mississippi Economic Policy Center. “Many of the communities with the highest rates of child poverty also have the lowest performing school districts

Clarion Ledger