Wednesday, October 31, 2007

54% of Southern Public School Students In Free Lunch Program

Report: Poor the majority in South's public schools

The number of low-income students in the South's public schools grew to 54 percent in the past school year, creating a "crisis of the first order of magnitude," an Atlanta-based education foundation says.

The percentage in the 15-state Southern region rose slightly from previous years and is the nation's highest, ahead of the West at 47 percent and the Midwest and Northeast at 36 percent each, according to the Southern Education Foundation's report issued Tuesday.

he report defines low-income students as those who qualify for free or reduced-cost public school meals and looks at the percentage they represent of total enrollment.

The findings highlight a steady increase in low-income student enrollment in Southern public schools since 1989, when the figure was 34 percent.

It reached 50 percent in 2004 and has continued to rise, a phenomenon researchers contribute to demographic changes, the economy and the South's history as a region with higher poverty rates.

Georgia, the report says, is among four Southern states where an increase in Latino children and a high birth rate among African-Americans has played a role.

Just "what if.....".

What IF we acknowledged that children born into poverty are going to be continuously challenged in their ability to achieve and compete in the world today BUT we took a different bias in our response to this challenge?

Where as today the standard response would be "This poverty is unacceptable.....we need new government programs to provide necessary resources to these children so that they won't have it so bad.". What if we took the reverse approach and communicated the message to young people that they should seek optimal environmental conditions in their lives BEFORE they have children and thus fewer children would be born into situations that compromise and threaten the child? I am fully aware of the situations under which a child is produced. By no means do I expect that "love children" will one day cease. However if there is in fact a greater goal for "Progressive People" then certainly getting more people to buy into behaviors that actually lead to "progression" is not unreasonable.

I am a married Black man. My wife and I have good jobs. We could easily support two more children without becoming "poor". Instead we have made the CONSCIOUS decision to not have any more children because of the time expense and our desire to invest the attention and resources that we do have in the two children that we already have. New borns are "expensive" beyond the monetary considerations. The massive change in lifestyle. The health concerns for them and the mother, the changes in daycare that are required make having another child a serious consideration.

How is it that society would demand that a middle class Black family like I have be RESPONSIBLE for the care and upkeep of my children and the associated reproductive choices but for some reason does not extend this same mandate and the resulting consequences to those who are far less able to care for one child let alone several?

It seems to me that some measure of reverse engineering is required. If indeed the great mandate for "HIGH, equal outcomes" is to be OPERATIONALIZED then the flow of expectations cannot only come from the government who makes up for the shortfalls in resources that private individuals need to live up to a common standard. It is clear to me that the people who indeed seek "SALVATION" need to play an active part in the attainment of these higher standards.

Simply put - some people are not in a position to offer a child a high quality and nurturing experience in their formative years. They can't even do so for themselves. How much of their own education, employability and social development is compromised because they have do all that is necessary to bring another life into this world? Worse yet - what of the confusing messages from society that support these choices but then feigns outrage when these children have not the resources to live up to the basic standards that we as a society expect to produce?

If you don't have an ideas of where you are going as a society - it is easy to get there over time.

1 comment:

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