Homeless students in public schools on the rise

A just-released report indicates that more than 1.5 million students were trying to attend school while homeless in 2017/18, which is the highest number in over twelve years.

developmental delays for homeless children

Homeless children face environments that are frequently unsafe, exposing them to violence and neglect. They move often, and without notice, which can create uncertainty and anxiety. These conditions result in developmental delays and poor health. Homeless students are more often absent from school than any other group; when they attend school, they’re most likely to be unprepared for class, with classwork neglected or forgotten.

Homelessness has an impact on academic achievement over and above the effects of poverty. Studies show that “economically disadvantaged students outscore homeless students by approximately 10 percentage points in most subjects and grades.”

Homeless students also score lower on standardized tests than low-income students. Only about 29% of students experiencing homelessness achieved academic proficiency in reading; 24% achieved proficiency in mathematics; and 26% achieved proficiency in science.

where they stay at night

The majority of homeless students say that they are forced to stay with friends or relatives. But more than 182,000 students reported living in shelters and transitional housing.

The number of students living unsheltered–on the streets, in cars, etc–increased by 137% to more than 102,000 in the past three years.

example: New York City

The number of school-age children in New York City who live in shelters or “doubled up” in apartments with family or friends has increased by 70% over the past decade, now well over 100,000 students. Of these, over 70% failed state English exams last year, and less than 60% of homeless children graduated from the city’s public high schools.

A major contributor to the spike in urban homelessness is the increased cost of housing following the opening of new businesses. Think: Amazon and Microsoft in Seattle, amid an explosion of homeless tent cities.

Should the businesses that drive up housing prices pay for lower income housing for the displaced homeless? Or, is it the responsibility of the government to foot the bill?

Check out the debate here.

How does the US compare to other countries worldwide with respect to homelessness? Geek out on it here.


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