Systemic Bias

Yesterday I read this very interesting piece about how Massachusetts has lost count of its poor students.

Did you know that most legal immigrants are barred from using benefits like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) for their first five years in the United States? This was sad news to me, and likely affects some number of families within our PHA community.

It all started in 2014 when the MA Department of Ed introduced a new metric called “economic disadvantage” replacing what was previously called “low-income” in our data tracking. This new metric automatically applied to students enrolled to receive SNAP benefits. To quote from the article, “We adopted a definition of poverty that effectively required, with one small exception, that you be a legal resident of the country for at least five years”.

The article goes on to say that it is reasonable to assume that [the new metric] creates some systemic bias. Yep, that’s a safe assumption.