Poverty is getting so concentrated in America that one out of five public schools was classified as as a “high-poverty” school in 2011 by the U.S. Department of Education. To win this unwelcome designation, 75 percent or more of an elementary, middle or high school’s students qualified for free or reduced-price lunch. About a decade earlier, in 2000, only one in eight public schools was deemed to be high poverty. That’s about a 60 percent increase in the number of very poor schools!
This figure was part of a large data report, The Condition of Education 2013, released by the National Center for Education Statistics on May 23, 2013. There’s a lot to chew on in it. But school poverty jumped out at me as a really depressing data point showing the growing income inequality in America.
Qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch is an imperfect measure of poverty. A mother with two kids who makes under $35,000 a year would be in this group. Certainly, that’s poor family in New York City, but maybe not destitute in Utah. I’ve also heard that many poor families feel that it is such a stigma to accept a discounted or free lunch that they don’t sign up for the program. So the poverty rates in many schools are probably much higher than the official statistics say they are.
Here is the chart of income thresholds to qualify for free and reduced-price lunch.
Source: Education By The Numbers, The Hechinger Report
Available at: http://educationbythenumbers.org/content/the-number-of-high-poverty-schools-increases-by-about-60-percent_161/
This rule finalizes changes to eligibility determinations for free and reduced price school meals to implement nondiscretionary provisions of the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004. This rule also finalizes the following changes set forth in the interim rule published on November 13, 2007 (72 FR 63785)–addition of a statutory definition of “local educational agency,” specification that a family only has to submit one application for all children in the household as long as they attend schools in the same local educational agency, and requirements to enhance descriptive materials distributed to families. This rule finalizes requirements for electronically-submitted applications, electronic signatures, and use and disclosure standards for such applications. This rule also finalizes year-long eligibility for free or reduced price school meals, unless the household chooses to decline a level of benefits. These changes are intended to provide children with increased access to the school nutrition programs by simplifying the certification process, streamlining program operations, and improving program management.
Source: Federal Register
Available at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-10-28/html/2011-27933.htm
The idea of making school lunches better and healthier has gathered steam in many parts of the nation in recent years, but not equally for every child. Schools with money and involved parents concerned about obesity and nutrition charged ahead, while poor and struggling districts, overwhelmed by hard times, mostly did not.
This midsize city in northern Colorado, where 60 percent of the 19,500 students qualify for free or reduced-price meals, is trying to break the mold. When classes start on Thursday, the district will make a great leap forward — and at the same time back to the way it was done a generation ago — in cooking meals from scratch.
Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/17/education/17lunch.html?_r=1&src=tp&smid=fb-share