by Jana Kasperkevic from the guardian Jan. 17, 2015
A new report found that, at 51%, the number of children who qualified for federal programs for free or reduced-price lunches is the highest in at least 50 years,according to the Southern Education Foundation. In other words, in 2013, more than half of the students attending public school lived in poverty.
Those numbers are representative of the growing problem of child poverty in the US. Overall, one in five US children live in poverty. It has only recently been dropping, with 14.7 million US children living in poverty in 2013, down from 16.1 million in 2012. In 2012, out of 35 economically developed countries, only Romania had a higher child poverty rate than the US.
The Southern Education Foundation found that with each passing year, an increasing number of states are seeing needy children in their classrooms.
In 2013, 21 states reported that the majority of students in their public schools came from low-income families. That’s a huge jump from 2011, when 17 states reported such majorities. Ten years ago, it was only four states.
There is a geographical element to poverty. Thirteen of those states with a majority of low-income students in their schools are located in the south, six in the west. Mississippi is faring the worst, with 71% of its public school students coming from low-income families. In Texas, that number is 60% and in Alabama 58%.
In 19 other states, including New York, low-income students made up between 40% and 49% of the states’ public school enrollment, the report found.