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The PJ Tatler

Myra Adams


October 18, 2013 - 9:29 am


poverty graphic

If you are an American who believes that our nation’s best days are behind us, here is a startling and depressing report from the Southern Education Foundation (SEF) that will support your opinion.

First, what is the SEF? It is the nation’s oldest education philanthropy with a mission statement stating the following:

The Southern Education Foundation (SEF) is a public charity whose mission is to advance equity and excellence in education in the American South.

This week, the SEF released a report based on 2011 data titled “A New Majority: Low Income Students in the South and the Nation.”

The key finding is that low-income children now comprise a majority of students in the public schools of 17 states across the nation — and 13 of those states are in the South. Even more depressing was the fact that 48 percent of school children qualified as low income nationally.

So does this 48 percent mean that the USA is an emerging third-world nation?

Maybe, but before that question is definitively answered, it is important to acknowledge that the numbers used in SEF’s study to determine a child’s low-income status were based solely on the number of students receiving either free or reduced school lunches.

Certainly that criterion may have some flaws since our government excels at handing out food benefits. But if you were to downplay those numbers, looking at the chart above leads one to conclude that if even slightly less than 48 percent of our nation’s children are living at or near poverty levels, then our nation’s future is still tragically “at risk.”

This is especially true when the chances of an American child escaping poverty through hard work and education seem to be less than at any time in our recent past.

Certainly upward mobility is still possible, but statistically the “American Dream” is becoming more challenging to achieve if you are born poor. The hard fact is that poverty tends to breed more poverty.

Furthermore, the long-term consequences of 48 percent of public school children learning to depend on government as part of their daily education is a lesson plan for national failure.


Myra Adams is a media producer, writer, and political observer who served on the McCain Ad Council during the 2008 McCain campaign, and on the 2004 Bush campaign creative team. Her columns have appeared on PJ Media, National Review, The Daily Beast, The Daily Caller, RedState, BizPacReview and Liberty Unyielding. . Myra's web site contributes all profits to Christian charity. Follow Myra on Twitter @MyraKAdams

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Theoretically - since most children don't have declarable income (I'm presuming the IRS still lets them collect allowances "off the books"); then all children should be classified as indigents who are dependent on charity for housing, food and transportation.

(That was sarcasm - although, I'm pretty sure a few government types think it's true.)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So, if the Congress, in its infinite wisdom, gives free lunches to every kid in America, then all of them will automatically be considered low-income?

How about we take all of those free meals away and call it a victory in the War on Poverty?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
" the numbers used in SEF’s study to determine a child’s low-income status were based solely on the number of students receiving either free or reduced school lunches."

This is the worst possible data to use for determining childhood poverty. First, it's important to understand that almost all federal and a lot of state funding goes to schools that report they are above a certain thresh hold of Free Lunch recipients. Once the thresh hold is reached, 100% of the campus population is deemed to be low income. In order to maximize a share of federal dollars, school districts work very hard to move every campus they can over that marker.

Second, applications by parents and reporting by campuses/districts are not audited in any meaningful way by either the USDA or the DoEd. The income that parents report on applications is not verified. Many schools have been known to complete the applications on behalf of the students. One year - for grins I reported that our family income was $2 million dollars and yes, we still received notification that our children qualified for reduced lunches. (Full disclosure - we are a strict "brown bagging family" - I packed lunches for all 4 kids every day of their school careers.)

If by some happenstance, a campus is selected for an audit, it is an unmonitored self audit. The campus is only required to review a small number of their applications for accuracy and those may be cherry picked.

Case in point - we purchased a new home 20 years ago before the zero interest down payment craze, when all buyers had to meet the minimum down payment and strict conventional borrowing standards. We were some of the first folks to move to a newly developed part of town that featured several gated neighborhoods and prices started at $150K to $500K. Imagine our surprise to learn that all of our kids schools were designated Title I. That was in an area that had no apartments, no duplexes, no low income housing and no kids bused from other parts of town. It was very much upper middle class kids.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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