Over Half of Public School Students are Poor

In the United States.

From the NY Times:

In a report released Friday by the Southern Education Foundation, researchers found that 51 percent of children in public schools qualified for the lunches in 2013, which means that most of them come from low-income families. By comparison, 38 percent of public school students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunches in 2000.

According to the report, which analyzed data from the National Center for Education Statistics, a majority of students in 21 states are poor. Close to two-thirds of those states are in the South, which has long had a high concentration of poor students. In Mississippi, for example, close to three-fourths of all public school students come from low-income families.

But the West also has a large and growing proportion of low-income students. Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada have high rates of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.

What say you to that, ed reformers?  Charters and vouchers and TFA going to solve this equation? 


Jet City mom said…
You didn't include the next paragraph from the times.

"Children who are eligible for such lunches do not necessarily live in poverty. Subsidized lunches are available to children from families that earn up to $43,568, for a family of four, which is about 185 percent of the federal poverty level."

Gee Jet City, I can see how, for the majority of kids in the program, that makes all the difference in the world.

I'll also note that many kids in middle/high school who qualify DON'T access the food available to them because of the stigma.

I guess that balances things out.
Jet City mom said…
How much is because immigration has increased?

My kids didn't access the FRL because of the TASTE.
Greg said…
Related: "A 10 percent increase in per-pupil spending each year for all twelve years of public school leads to 0.27 more completed years of education, 7.25 percent higher wages, and a 3.67 percentage-point reduction in the annual incidence of adult poverty; effects are much more pronounced for children from low-income families."
Benjamin Leis said…
My wife and I were discussing this article at the table yesterday.

There was another caveat in the article "The number of children eligible for subsidized lunches has probably increased in part because the federal Agriculture Department now allows schools with a majority of low-income students to offer free lunches to all students, regardless of whether they qualify on an individual basis or not." Which makes it harder to tease apart how large the true growth was. Although I've seen other figures citing the poverty rate for children in the US being around 34% based family income. That's still one of the highest rates among wealthier nations.

Joe Wolf said…
Jet City Mom -

If you're referencing undocumented immigrants, that influx pretty much came to a halt during the Great Recession - for at least a couple years, the net for Mexico was in the other direction. Only recently has it picked up a bit.
Anonymous said…
2014 Federal poverty line (FPL) for family of 4 is $23,850. Excluding Hawaii and Alaska with higher cost of living. These are thresholds to meet for federal and state subsidies, and depending which federal department, program, and level of state participation you are talking about, the threshold to qualify will change. For FRL, USDA set the threshold at 185% for reduced meal because the idea is to capture more students at risk for hunger. It's free at 130% ($31,005/ family of 4).

Things that poor people face that makes life complicated. Like Obamacare/ACA and those states like Mississippi and Texas which refused to expand Medicaid coverage to support the working poor's ability to buy into ACA, it means a huge financial hit to meet the federal requirement to have healthcare insurance. In fact these 2 states along with many southern states, for family with dependent children, to qualify for Medicaid you have to make < 50% federal poverty line! That leaves working poor family deciding over things like fixing a car to get to work, medicine, clothing, shoes, rent, food, and buying health insurance to comply with the law.

As to immigration responsible for the increase, that might be true for Nevada, but the majority of states and DC with high poverty number, especially the deep and central South and Texas have historically high poverty rate. BTW, New York draws the 2nd most immigrants and they are middling in the poverty race.

So perhaps it's not a simple cause like immigration, but other facts like stagnated wages which failed to keep up with inflation and in Seattle's case, increasing cost of living like rent, child care, food, insurance, taxes, etc. I'm afraid no amount of tent city living, bouncing around various charity food lines, 4 year and 2,000 students preK initiative, and toys for tots are the sustainable answers.


Anonymous said…
For immigration numbers:

BTW, top 5 states in 2012 which draw the most immigrants are CA, NY, TX, FL, and NJ in that order. FRL percentage for these states: TX (60%)), FL (59%), CA(55%), NY (48%) and NJ (37%)). WA is at 45% for FRL.

Jet City mom said…
Immigrants do have a higher poverty rate than native born, but the second generation is indistinguishable from other Americans.

I'm not Catholic, ( or religious) but I like this pope.
Unknown said…
And this poor students are the one who are diligent and hardworking people who wants to graduate and have a better future because they want to have a better life
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