The South may rise again, but it likely won’t be because of increasing levels of income or educational quality.
The Washington Post lead pretty much sums it up: “A majority of students in public schools throughout the American South and West are low-income for the first time in at least four decades, according to a new study that details a demographic shift with broad implications for the country.”
To be considered poor, a student must be eligible for free or reduced lunches. Eligibility varies according to household size, but a family of four would have to have an annual household income below $43,000 for a child to be eligible for a reduced lunch, $30,000 for a free lunch.
Mississippi has the greatest percentage of poor students (71 percent), according to the study by the Southern Education Foundation. Georgia is ranked 6th (57 percent). Thirteen of the 17 states that have majority poor students are from the South.
Maryland and Virginia are the only Southern states that do not have majority poor student populations, maybe because of those states’ large population of federal workers.
For the first time ever, students from Western states (California, Nevada, Oregon, New Mexico) are majority poor, according to the study.
Nationally, the population of poor students has grown 5.7 million since 2001. As a result, the national rate of low income students attending public schools moved from 38 percent of all students in 2001 to 48 percent in 2011, the study says.
Educational spending has increased too, 14 percent from 2001 to 2011. Southern states spend about $9,200 per student. Public schools in the Northeast spend almost twice that, $16,000 per student.
Low income students are more likely than students from wealthier families to have lower tests scores, fall behind in school, dropout, and fail to acquire a college degree, the study says.
The study’s writers don’t come out and say it, but someone at Gawker suggests the solution is to outlaw private schools.
Is the assumption that rich kids will help make the poor kids smarter? Though public school systems could likely boast higher average standardized test scores, I don’t think it would be because of an improvement in the worst performers.
Maybe lumping all students together impedes the education of richer students? Is that fair?
It’s a complex problem and there may not be a solution, though I am sure some educators will suggest the ever-popular “throw money at it.”
What do you suggest?
More news you may find interesting: