Tuesday, October 30, 2007

No Education for the Poor

The War on Poor People is also part of the American War on Black People. More than 40% of the nation's poor live in the South. The state with the greatest concentration of poor students is Louisiana, where 84% of public school students are poor; more than 60% of Florida's public schools are poor.

Where there are inequalities in education, of course inequalities in income and wealth follow. (The poor get poorer.)

How this country finances education is criminal. Criminal, I say. (There is a Judgment Day a-comin', and some people are going to get the shock of their lives is all Ima say about that.) Schools are financed by local and state taxes, which means that the accident of birth governs whether an American child receives an adequate education.

When there is concentrated poverty in the schools, it means that poor students have the least qualified, least experienced teachers, fewest counseling services (and certainly the greatest need for counseling services), least access to technology, and--this probably goes without saying--the highest drop-out rates.

Reform, reform, reform. There is a solid affirmative action program in place for rich white kids, with all the children of alumni admissions policies and so on. Let us now turn our attention to people in need.

[Stats from today's News & Notes on NPR]

UPDATE: More on this from Education Week:

More than half of public schoolchildren in the U.S. South now come from low-income families, according to a new report, which predicts that the nation as a whole could reach the same demographic milestone within a decade if current trends persist.

“What these figures are beginning to tell us is that we’re no longer talking about a small slice of the population when we talk about low-income students,” said Steve T. Suitts, the author of the report, which was released today by the Southern Education Foundation, an Atlanta-based group. “We’re talking in the South about a majority of students and that does have profound implications and challenges for schools.”

According to the report, the South, for the first time in at least 40 years, is the only region in the nation where low-income children constitute a majority of public school students. Overall, the study found that in the 2006-07 school year, 54 percent of students in 15 Southern states examined came from families poor enough to qualify for the federal free and reduced-price lunch program. Under the guidelines for that program, families cannot earn more than 185 percent of the federal poverty threshold—about $31,765 a year for a family of three—to participate.

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