Study Finds Nearly Half of America’s Public School Students Are Low-Income

October 21, 2013  |  

Nearly half (48 percent) of the students enrolled in America’s public schools come from low-income families, The Atlantic reports.

Mississippi holds the highest percentage of low socio-economic students — a whopping 70.6 percent, according to a new report by the Southern Education Foundation. New Hampshire, according to the study, holds the smallest percentage of low-income students at 25.2 percent.

Still, over the past 10 years, the percentage of low-income students in public schools went up 10 percent. Back in 2000, only four states had more than 50 percent of poor students enrolled in public schools. In 2011, that number quadrupled to 17 states.

The researchers analyzed the percentage of students that received free or reduced school lunches because these subsidies are only available to children who come from families that earn 185 percent below the poverty line. “For a family of four, that amounted to about $41,000 in 2011—a figure that might feel dire in New York City, but less so in New Mexico. In the end, we are talking about families poor enough to get for some amount of federal food help,” The Atlantic adds.

While there was a growing number of poor children in public schools before the recession, the economic downturn intensified the problem. According to the researchers, immigration and high birthrate among low-income families also contribute to this issue.

The author at The Atlantic said it best: “Unfortunately, your success in school depends largely on what your parents earn. It’s an intergenerational Catch 22 that’s at the heart of modern poverty.”

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