Median Income for Single Mothers Below Poverty Line in 29 Southeastern Michigan School Districts

Last week we examined the median income of families with school aged children by school district, and this week we examine the median income of single mothers with school aged children. The highest median income for a single mother in the Metro-Detroit region is in both Bloomfield Hills and Birmingham school districts; the median income for both these districts is just under $83,000. These median incomes are just under half of the highest median income for families with children, which is $184,289 in the Northville Public School District. Single mothers in the Northville Public School District have a median income of about $67,000.

As noted in last week’s post, the income of a parent, or parents, does affect the education of a child due to the access the family has to housing, resources and, ultimately, the school districts. While single mothers in districts such as  Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills and Berkley ($70,000) have a higher median income than the poverty threshold for a family of four ($25,750), access issues do still exist.

There is a higher risk of those issues existing in school districts such as Hamtramck, Highland Park, Detroit and Ecorse, where the median income for single mothers is below that of the federal poverty line for a family of four. The Hamtramck School District has the lowest median income for single mothers at  $12,454; the Highland Park School District follows at $15,224 and then the Ecorse Public School District at $16,108 and Detroit Public Schools at $18,730. In total, throughout Southeastern Michigan, there are 12 school districts where the median income for single mothers is below $20,000; six of the districts are located in Wayne County. Additionally, none of those school districts are located in Livingston County. When looking at the number of school districts where the median income of a single mother is below that of the poverty line for a family of four there are 29 school districts. Again, Wayne County has the highest number of school districts with single mothers with a median income below the poverty line and Livingston County doesn’t have any districts with that designation.

Where a Student Lives Impacts their Education: Northville has Highest Median Family Income

Where a student lives often impacts what school they attend, and those that live in a higher income area often have access to more educational resources and opportunities. In all of Southeastern Michigan the Northville Public School District has the highest median income for families with children at $184,289. This public school district brings public education opportunities to residents in the City of Northville, Northville Township and a portion of those in Novi. In total, there are six elementary schools, two middle schools and a high school that houses about 7,000 students. The median income examined in this post is for families with school-aged children that live within the boundaries of a school district, which does not necessarily encompass the boundary lines of a city or township.

There are only four school districts in the region where the median income for families with children is above $150,000. In addition to Northville Public Schools, those districts are: Birmingham Public Schools ($175,132), Bloomfield Hills Schools ($159,441) and Grosse Ile Township Schools ($150,060).

The Highland Park School District had the lowest median income for families with children at $16,847. This school district is contained within the boundaries of the City Highland Park. Currently, the only school in the district is a K-8 charter school that serves about 370 students; a high school is expected to open in the near future. Prior to the recession, Highland Park School District had an enrollment of about 3,900 students in 2007-08; enrollment dropped to under 1,000 during the 2011-12 school year. The changes in enrollment reflected the loss of residents in Highland Park and the School of Choice law that allowed students in one district to attend school in another district. Due to declining enrollment and a loss of revenue, Highland Parks schools was placed under financial receivership and it was determined all schools in the district would be converted into two charter schools. As mentioned, one charter school is currently the only school in the district.

Throughout the region there were five school districts where the median income of a family with children was under $25,000, those districts, which include Highland Park schools are: River Rouge School District ($19,837), Ecorse Public Schools ($23,668) Hamtramck Public Schools ($24,441) and Detroit Public Schools ($24,945). Both Detroit and Highland Park public schools have had Emergency Managers appointed by the state.

Wayne County is the only county in the region with public school districts that has median family incomes under $25,000.

The income threshold in Michigan that is considered to be the poverty line is $33,000 for a family of four. The only other school district in Southeastern Michigan that has a median income for families with children that falls below the poverty line is Van Dyke Public Schools in Macomb County ($27,125).

Understanding the median income of families with children for the districts in Southeastern Michigan is important because it also helps cultivate a further understanding of educational inequalities that often exist between children in high income and low-income families. According to the article “Income Segregation between School Districts and Inequality in Students’ Achievements,” the standardized test score, educational attainment and college enrollment gaps have continued to grow between children in high-income families and children in low-income families (Owens, 2017). This of course affects the future of the children, including employment and housing options. Family income also affects a child because it helps determine the resources invested into the child, including where they live, which can have a direct affect on their cognitive test scores, according to the article. Additionally, other resources that affect the child’s wellbeing include food, clothing and investments like books, technology and extra curricular activities.

Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills have Highest Percentage of Students in Private Schools

The U.S. education system allows students to attend either public or private schools, both for K-12 and post secondary education. While public education is the most common choice for parents and students, there are a large number of students who attend private schools. In Southeastern Michigan, the percentage of students within public school distract boundaries who attend private schools varies between 1 and 24 percent.

In the Southeastern Michigan region there are 110 public school districts, and within each of those districts some portion of students are sent to private schools. Of the 110 public school districts, 30 have more than 10 percent of students who attend a school operated by a private entity. Furthermore, there are five districts in the region where more than 20 percent of students in each district attend a private school. Of these five school districts, four are in Oakland County and one is in Wayne County. According to data from the American Community Survey, both Birmingham Public Schools and the Bloomfield Hills School District  (both in Oakland County) have the highest percentage of students who attend private schools at 24 percent.  The other two school districts in Oakland County where more than 20 percent of students are attending private schools are Berkley and Royal Oak public schools (21 and 23 percent, respectively). The Garden City public school district in Wayne County is the other district where more than 20 percent of students attend private schools (22 percent).

Conversely, Van Dyke Public Schools (Macomb County) and the Hazel Park Public School District (Oakland County) have the lowest percentage of students attending private schools in Southeastern Michigan at 1 percent. In Detroit, 6 percent of students in the Detroit Public Schools district attend private schools.

While there are various reasons for students to attend private schools, which include religious preferences, classroom sizes and access to specific resources, the districts with the two highest percentages of students attending private schools also are amongst those with the highest median incomes for parents in the region, according to the American Community Survey. In Birmingham Public Schools the median income of families with children is $175,132, and in the Bloomfield Hills public school district the median income for families with children is $159,441. Conversely, the median income for families with children in Van Dyke Public Schools district is $27,125, and in the Hazel Park Public School District the median income is $44,093.

Private school in Michigan, as it currently stands, do not receive any public funding. With tuition costs to fund the operation of these private schools, it is not surprising that the districts with higher median incomes have higher percentages of students attending private schools.

Census 2020: Hard to Count Areas in Southeastern Michigan

The goal of the 2020 Census is to count each person in the U.S., based on their primary residence, by April 1, 2020. However, the fear is that several communities in Michigan will be undercounted in the 2020 Census, meaning a lack of federal funding in the future. And a major portion of 7-county Southeastern Michigan area is in the so-called “hard to count” category.

The majority of the Census is completed by households self-responding via mail or online, starting this year. Throughout the country there are areas where self-response rates are very high, and in other areas they are just the opposite. The areas with previously low self-response rates have been deemed as “hard to count” areas; these areas often include minority and immigrant populations, along with renters and children under the age of 5.

Data for this post was provided by City University of New York, and they deemed an area hard to count if its self-response rate was 73 percent or less for the 2010 Census. This percentage is based on the mail return rate from occupied housing units for the 2010 Census.

As the map shows below, at the county level, self-response mail in rates are high throughout Southeastern Michigan, ranging from 78.5 percent to 86.6 percent. Livingston County had the highest self-response rate at 86.6 percent while Wayne County had the lowest at 78.5 percent. Breaking this data down to the census tract level helped determined what areas would be hard to count for the 2020 Census.

Overall, at the county level, five of the seven counties have hard to count populations. Wayne County has the highest hard to count population at 30 percent and Macomb County has the lowest hard to count population (of those with such a population) at 2 percent. Livingston and St. Clair counties did not have any hard to count data available. Wayne and Washtenaw counties are the only two in the region with hard to count populations in the double digits (30 and 10 percent, respectively).

When looking at the counties on a deeper level, by census tract, we see that Highland Park, Inkster and Detroit (all in Wayne County) have the largest hard to count populations in the region. In Highland Park 100 percent of the population is considered hard to count for the 2020 Census; in Inkster that percentage is 91 percent and in Detroit 86 percent of the population is considered hard to count. The top reason for all three of these cities having such a percentage of hard to count populations is due to the high poverty levels. Other reasons, according to AP News, include a high African American population, low response rates to the American Community Survey and a high percentage of children living below the poverty level. Of the hard to count communities in Southeastern Michigan (27), nine have hard to count populations above 50 percent.

Washtenaw County has the second overall highest percentage of hard to count populations. This is because Ypsilanti has 52 percent of the population considered hard to count. Ann Arbor is estimated to have 29 percent of its population designated as hard to count. The main reason for Ann Arbor’s hard to count status is because of the high percentage of residents between the ages of 18-24 years of age (the University of Michigan is located in Ann Arbor); there is also a high proportion of renters there and a high proportion of individuals who move residences from one year to the next. In Ypsilanti there is a high hard to count population due to high poverty levels and the high number of renters.

To ensure overall high self-response rates the Census Bureau has now made it possible for individuals to complete the Census online, by mail and over the phone. If residents do not respond by one of those methods census takers will knock on the doors of homes that have not responded. Additionally, communities throughout the stateare also putting together large outreach campaigns to ensure members of their communities complete the Census. For example, the City of Detroit has a website that lists Census resources, ways to volunteer for outreach events and how to apply for a job with the Census. For more information on the Census visit