The majority of children studying in the public schools in the United States are living under the poverty line, according to a new study by the Southern Education Foundation.
The comprehensive report was prepared after drawing conclusions from the data that revealed how many American kids studying in public schools are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals.
The report for the first time on record showed 51 percent of school students, i.e. an estimated 74.5 million children, are living in poverty.
“No longer can we consider the problems and needs of low income students simply a matter of fairness. Their success or failure in the public schools will determine the entire body of human capital and educational potential that the nation will possess in the future,” the Southern Education Foundation report said while quoting from a previous analysis.
According to the study researchers, the report showed a continuing trend of increased levels in poverty since 1989.
In 1980s, only 32 percent of students were found eligible for these types of meals in schools. The number had increased to 38 percent by 2000 and it had risen another 13 percent in 2013, according to information from the National Center for Education Statistics.
The school children are qualified for free meals if their family members are already on these benefit programs and/or if their household income is not over 135 percent of the poverty level. They qualified for lowered-price meals if their household income is not more than 185 percent of the poverty level. In 2013, the poverty level was measured as USD 23,550 for a family of two adults and two children by the federal government.
Of the states with a majority of low-income students, 13 were located in the South, and six in the West.
The highest concentrations of low-income students were found in three states: Mississippi stood first with 71 percent, followed by New Mexico (68 percent) and Louisiana (65 percent).
According to the National Center on Family Homelessness, one child in every 30 was found homeless in the year 2013, which marks an all-time high for 2.5 million children in the United States.
This is attributed to high poverty rates as well as the scarcity of affordable housing.