Wednesday, 08 July 2015 00:00

Poverty Rates in American School Districts

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Dr. Michael Omidi discusses a new map which highlights the poverty rates in every school district throughout America.

It has been commonly known that where a child lives, greatly impacts their educational experience. Now a new map reveals the rate of poverty in a given school district throughout the United States. Today, we'll review the map and discuss the implications it has.

The map titled, “Dividing Lines: School District Borders in the Unites States,” was complied by edbuild. It shows the more than 13,000 school districts throughout the US. Districts are color coded based on the percentage of poverty within it.

What's shocking is that some of our nation's school districts have over 40% of their students living below the poverty line. These are districts coded in dark red. The map also discusses how schools are zoned and how more affluent neighborhoods have an advantage since much of the funding raised for public schools comes from property taxes.

Some of the schools highlighted show how some schools were purposefully zoned to keep socioeconomic classes divided. One such is that of Spencer-Sharpless School District in Ohio which was originally drawn in 1948. By 1960 the area was heavily underfunded and many school districts refused to join. By 1980 all schools within the Spencer-Sharpless boundaries were formerly closed.

Since the great recession as the map points out, areas in concentrated poverty have doubled. In total, 495 school districts are living in deep poverty. That means over 40% or more of their population is living under the poverty line. With all this information, then what is the repercussions?

Many of these schools will be underfunded and thus have less resources for things like books, extracurriculars and other vital programs for a child's develop. This means that these students won't be only economically disadvantaged but most likely academically disadvantaged. Without going on to higher education, these students will most likely perpetuate the poverty they grew up in.

Is there an easy solution? The answer is no. Much has to be done to reform these failing districts in order to potentially bring these students towards an equal education as those living in more affluent areas. It is up to our policy makers to make the tough decisions to reform these schools to help the future generations of America.

Yours in health,

Michael Omidi

Dr. Michael Omidi is the co-founder of No More Poverty a nonprofit that works to reduce the impact of poverty in America and throughout the world.

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