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FLAGSTAFF, ARIZ. — Poor students now make up the majority of kids in public schools in the western United States. New Mexico has the second highest rate of low income students after Mississippi.
Over the last decade the percentage of students who qualify for free and reduced meals has dramatically increased. And during that same period the growth of poor students considerably exceeded the amount of money spent per pupil. That’s according to a new report by the Southern Education Foundation.
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. Credit: Southern Education Foundation.
“We have to come to grips with the fact that we now have a school system where the majority of public school students are low income and they are not performing at levels that they want and need and that society wants and needs, and we need to do education differently,” said Steave Suitts, vice president of the Southern Education Foundation.
The Atlanta-based think tank works to improve education policy and practice. The report also showed the gap between low income and high income students is as large in private schools as it is in public schools.