- A new report from the Southern Education Foundation found that over half of U.S. public school students are eligible for free-and-reduced lunch, an increase that places strains on school systems across the nation.
- Lyndsey Layton from the Washington Post sat down with PBS NewsHour to discuss some of these strains, explaining how money in high-poverty districts first goes toward making sure kids are just OK before even being allocated for specific education initiatives.
- While it is not so surprising that border states in the South and West have large amounts of child poverty, Layton points out that there less-expected states like Vermont also face high poverty levels.
According to Layton, a third of kids in Vermont are eligible for free and reduced lunch. She uses the state as an example of how the issue of poverty is growing, telling PBS, "It’s all over the country, and beyond the obvious issues in the border states. You can find it all over the place."
To put context on the strains placed on the classroom, Layton gave an example of a kindergarten teacher she spoke to in downtown Albuquerque, NM, who told her that, for the first hour of school, she has to check to make sure all of her students have eaten and are clean. It's a chunk of time that, of course, gets taken out of actual learning time.
Poverty affects policy, explains Layton, adding that as Republicans talk about re-authorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, questions come up about testing and what is best for students—specifically students struggling with poverty. According to Layton, many progressives believe money would be better spent on wraparound services, while Republicans believe money would be more efficiently spent if states had more sovereignty.