Food For Thought

Majority of U.S. public school students are in poverty

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More than half of children attending U.S. public schools come from low-income families, qualifying them for a free or reduced-price school lunch, a new report reveals.

The number of low-income school children has been steadily rising, going from 42% in 2006 to 49.6% in 2012. But 2013 marked the first year in recent history that a majority of schoolchildren – 51% – were low-income, according to the report from the Southern Education Foundation, drawing on state-level data from the National Center for Education Statistics. 

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Majority of students struggling with poverty

“No longer can we consider the problems and needs of low income students simply a matter of fairness,” the report stated. “Their success or failure in the public schools will determine the entire body of human capital and educational potential that the nation will possess in the future.”

The number of low-income students were concentrated in the South and West: Mississippi had the highest proportion of low-income students, at 71%, followed by New Mexico and Louisiana, according to the report. New Hampshire had the lowest proportion of low-income students at 27%.

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