fresh voices from the front lines of change







Republicans are always saying their policies will bring prosperity, to get people to vote for them. But when their policies are actually put to the test we see very different results. (Just look at how our society has been transformed since Reagan.) A recent study shows a dramatic increase in children in families that make so little that they qualify for assistance in paying for school meals, particularly in 13 Southern, Republican states.

A Southern Education Foundation study looked at how many students from preschool through 12th grade qualified for free and reduced-price meals in the 2010-11 school year. It found a dramatic increase in use of this program by children attending public schools, with a majority of children in public schools in 13 Southern states now classified as poor enough to qualify. A decade ago only four states reported a majority of the student population in their public schools needed assistance. Also, "for the first time in modern history, the West has had a majority of low-income students attending P-12 public schools." The four Western majority-poor states are New Mexico, California, Oregon, and Nevada.

Again: a majority of children in public schools in 13 Southern states are now poor enough to qualify for free and reduced-price meals in schools. This is up from just four states a decade ago.

In Mississippi 70.6% of public-school students need this assistance. In Louisiana it's 65.5%. Texas 50%. Alabama 54.5%. Georgia 57.4%. Click through to see more - and note how the map looks so much like the Red/Blue, Dem/Republican maps you are used to seeing.

Nationally 48% of students need this assistance, up from 38% a decade ago. According to the study: "From 2001 through 2011, the numbers of low income students in the nation's public schools grew by 32 percent -- an increase of more than 5.7 million children. As a result, low income students attending the nation's public schools moved from 38% of all students in 2001 to 48 percent in 2011." (Note: 2001-2009 = Bush. 2009-now = trying to unwind what Bush and Republicans did but facing extreme Republican obstruction.)

Fifty-two percent of all students attending public schools in America’s towns (located outside urban and suburban areas) were eligible for free or reduced meals in 2011.

All of this demonstrates the results of conservative economic policy as it has been practiced in the states as well as nationally. Children are paying a steep price. (I live in California which is at 53.8% in this study. In California we finally, finally voted in enough Democrats to pass laws and budget over Republican obstruction and have just begun to repair the damage done by decades of conservative rule.)

The full text of the study can be found by clicking here.

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