The Majority of Public School Students Now Live in Poverty

Poverty in Public Schools

Thus creating the most depressing headline you’ll read all week.



According to the United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) study done last year, in America one in three children live in poverty. It’s a statistic that no one should take lightly. Among one of the richest nations in the world the US ranks 36 out of 41 nations in terms of progress in child poverty among developing nations. If that’s not depressing in of itself, brace yourselves, it’s about to get worse.


A recent study done by the Southern Education Foundation (SEF) found that in the first time in the last 50 years, low income students have now become the majority in America’s public school system. The date collected in the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) show that 51% of students attending public schools were from lower income families.  In 21 states, children that were eligible for reduced lunches made up the majority of students in 2013. Mississippi leads the nation (51%) with three out of four school children coming from low income households.


The reason many experts find this troubling – other than, you know, the fact children are in poverty – is that would mean children coming from privileged school districts (ie districts with money) are going to have a bigger advantage of succeeding in the future. If the majority of public school students are now living in poverty, this would mean public schools would have to change the ways they approach education policy.


Teachers would be required to do more in the classroom – becoming makeshift caretakers during the day – also programs like free school lunches would needed to be implemented more to fight what has now become a major problem. As the 2012 SEF report had stated, this issue has no longer become a question of fairness, but something that affects the entire human capital and education potential of the US. This is one of those issues that can’t simply be put on the backburner. This isn’t something that is becoming a major problem, it already is one.



(Photo Credit: Southern Education Foundation)


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