“When they first come in my door in the morning, the first thing I do is an inventory of immediate needs: Did you eat? Are you clean? A big part of my job is making them feel safe,” said Sonya Romero-Smith, a veteran teacher at Lew Wallace Elementary School in Albuquerque. Fourteen of her 18 kindergartners are eligible for free lunches.The Washington Post's Lyndsey Layton reports that for the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students live in poverty, This according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has "profound implications for the nation".
Yes, the very idea that the majority of our school children are living below the poverty line in this, the world's wealthiest country, especially at a time when the overall economy is improving, should make educators and policy makers sit up and take notice.
“A lot of people at the top are doing much better", says Michael A. Rebell [remind me to steal his name] of the Campaign for Educational Equity at Teachers College at Columbia University. "But the people at the bottom are not doing better at all. Those are the people who have the most children and send their children to public school.”More from Layton:
Schools, already under intense pressure to deliver better test results and meet more rigorous standards, face the doubly difficult task of trying to raise the achievement of poor children so that they approach the same level as their more affluent peers.Current destabilizing school reform policies which punish and close high-poverty schools, call for more unfunded school seat time, new standards attached to high-stakes testing, and school privatization, not only miss the point but are actually intensifying the trend towards concentrated poverty.
The growing income gap, combined with the lack of adequate investment in schools and communities, pose the greatest threat to national security and don't bode well either for the future of our schools or for a democratic society.