Monday, October 29, 2007

Poor Kids Are Majority At Public Schools in South

The Dallas Morning News reports:

For the first time in more than 40 years, the majority of children in public schools in the South are poor, according to a report being released today.

Twenty years ago, Mississippi was the only state in the country with such a high percentage of poor public school students. Now, a majority of public school students are considered low-income in 14 states, including 11 in the South, the report by the Southern Education Foundation said.

"Low-income students as a group begin school least ready," said Steve Suitts, a program coordinator with the Atlanta-based foundation. "They are the students most likely to drop out of school."

The report found that 56 percent of Texas public school students were low-income in 2006, based on their eligibility for free or reduced school lunches. That's up from 49 percent in 2000.

The report gives only state averages; the poverty levels in individual districts vary greatly.

In 2006, about 83 percent of students in the Dallas Independent School District were poor. The figure was 69 percent in Irving, 48 percent in Mesquite, 50 percent in Richardson and 21 percent in Plano, according to the Texas Education Agency.