Find the latest episode of "The Uncertain Hour" here. Listen

Poor children, a new majority in public schools

Amy Scott Jan 16, 2015
HTML EMBED:
COPY
Elizabeth Albert/Flickr

Poor children, a new majority in public schools

Amy Scott Jan 16, 2015
Elizabeth Albert/Flickr
HTML EMBED:
COPY

We’ve passed a sobering milestone in this country. For the first time in at least 50 years, the majority of students in public schools are considered poor. That’s according to a new report from the Southern Education Foundation, which found that more than half of students in 2013 qualified for free and reduced-price lunch at school. Eligibility for free or reduced lunch is a widely-used, if imperfect, measure of poverty.

“This is a defining moment,” says Steve Suitts, the foundation’s vice president.

We tend to think of poverty as a problem concentrated in rural areas or the inner city, he says. Those boundaries are falling away.

“Even in the suburbs, low-income students are now 40 percent of the student population in the public schools,” Suitts says. “It’s everyone’s problem.”

According to the Southern Education Foundation, students are eligible for free meals at public schools if they live in households where the income is no more than 135 percent of the poverty threshold, and reduced-price lunches if household income is no more than 185 percent.

 

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.