The Hunger Games

22 Nov

As I was reading one of the blogs that I follow, I came across a statistic that claimed that over half our public school students here in the United States qualify for free and reduced lunches because they are poor.

And I thought to myself, is that possible? The wealthiest, most powerful country in the world sends one half of its public school students to school hungry? And so I did some research on my own and discovered that in this school year, most public school students are racial minorities, and more than half come from low-income backgrounds, living in or near poverty…and that’s according to the latest federal data!

The Southern Education Foundation found that on average 51 percent of students across the country were low-income, with more than half of the students in 21 states qualifying for free or reduced-price lunches. In fact More than 31 million children participated in the National School Lunch program in 2012, with the majority qualifying for free lunches.

More than 16 million children or 22% of all children under the age of 18 in the United States are living in poverty! And most go to school hungry and what are we doing for them? We are testing them! To try and find out why their scores in math, science and language aren’t competitive with the children of Finland or with other children living in the developed world…when we are the last out of 35 developed countries in our child poverty rate. (and not last in a good way, but rather as in the worst)

But the truth of the matter is our students already are competitive! And in most cases our students score better then children in the rest of the world…when you read the data correctly and notice that comparing all of the students in Finland where the child poverty rate is 4% to all of the children in the United States, where the child poverty rate is 22%…just isn’t fair.

When you remove our poor, hungry and tired students’ scores from the comparison, and only compare students of like socioeconomic backgrounds… and nourishment… our students out perform Finland! But if you want to compare all of America’s students to the students living in countries with poverty levels similar to our own then you need to compare us to countries like Romania, Latvia or Bulgaria, because, believe it or not, those are the countries that we most resemble!

And guess what? When it comes to the Hunger Games…our students score better than those countries too!

So we don’t need to test our children more! We need to feed them more! We need to provide them with better housing, better clothing, better opportunities, better living conditions. What we lack here in the United States and what we don’t provide to 22% of our children is EQUALITY! and that’s what sets us apart from comparing ourselves to places like Finland and Sweden and France. They are countries of equality. We are a country of INequality.

We are firing administrators. Laying off school teachers. Slashing budgets. Cutting salaries. Closing schools, eliminating programs and cutting supplies all in what we say is an effort to provoke, prod, motivate, hound, badger, goad, inspire and frighten our schools into “doing better”, “scoring better”, and “catching up to”, the Asians and Europeans when what our children and our schools really need is to be lifted out of poverty, relieved of hunger and properly housed.

But instead poverty, our country’s greatest problem, is the one problem that is always most ignored. Case in point: In the findings of a previous report from the foundation, the number of America’s low-income students in the last decade has grown at a rate three to four times greater than the increase of per-student spending in most of the country. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in October found that 30 of 47 states analyzed were spending less per student this year…than they did before the recession! And while America’s measured wealth has grown by 30 trillion dollars in the past 6 years!

And in fact the number of public school students from low-income backgrounds, has steadily grown from less than 32 percent in 1989, to over 50% today. So regardless of how you and your family live in today’s America, the reality is that in the year 2015, America’s children are mostly poor…hungry…tired…homeless…or soon to be all of the above. How’s that for a multiple choice questionnaire?

And testing them six ways to Sunday is a sad, sick, misdirected strategy that won’t solve the problem, make it any less true nor make it go away.




15 Responses to “The Hunger Games”

  1. ruminationville November 22, 2015 at 7:37 pm #

    Thank you for this post–heartbreaking as it is. Leslie

  2. avwalters November 22, 2015 at 8:01 pm #

    Welcome to America. I don’t know what to say about this. At times in my adult life I have been hungry because I was cash strapped. I am too proud to admit that I was poor. But the idea of children, hungry, in the richest country in the world… I don’t know what to say.

  3. Heba vs Reason November 22, 2015 at 8:10 pm #

    Reblogged this on Heba vs Reason.

  4. ihelenblog November 22, 2015 at 11:18 pm #

    Thank you for posting this. This is disgraceful in this day and age. I can’t believe it!

  5. George November 23, 2015 at 1:23 am #

    Hard to imagine, difficult to accept in this country. But you’re absolutely right, we focus on what we don’t want to address. It’s easier for us to do that than solve the bigger issue.

  6. jeanieclaire November 23, 2015 at 4:36 am #

    True dat. Also it is ridiculous that to comment here you have to log into Worcpress. I read from my phone and don’t carry passwords with me or store them. I’ve made comments and wasted time on this site.

    • Outlier Babe December 21, 2015 at 12:47 am #

      I agree entirely!! All you should need is an email address.

  7. The Meandering Matriarch November 23, 2015 at 5:21 am #

    Powerful figures. Well-done… It needs to be said everywhere, every time there’s an opportunity to share it.

  8. helen meikle's scribblefest November 23, 2015 at 12:17 pm #

    I’m not quite sure where to start, here. No country gets it totally right. But i find it interesting that the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world also has more prisoners than any other country in the world, both in raw numbers and by percentage of the population. I can’t help thinking these sets of statistics go hand in hand with the poverty/education statistics. I’ve been watching a doco series on American prisons, and having seen these guys and heard what they have to say, it strikes me forcibly that they’ve known nothing all their lives except poverty and violence. It’s as if there are two Americas.

  9. Human Being on a Journey! November 24, 2015 at 2:34 am #

    interesting. I am a teacher and yes, we do have poverty. However, we also have to change our society and cultural view about education. Unfortunately, education is not valued as much as it used to be. You are correct in saying that we do not focus on what needs to be addressed. Also, the media does not help much either.

  10. Outlier Babe December 21, 2015 at 12:49 am #

    Very good post. I was not aware of these comparisons. Do you have any sources to cite/links?

      • Outlier Babe December 22, 2015 at 4:29 am #

        I am really surprised by this. Truly. I taught for five years in a neighborhood considered severely impoverished. Almost everyone living there received AFDC and food stamps. At the time, I was overweight for my 5’7″ height. My 10-year-old students outweighed me by an average of 30 pounds. (I do know a heavy weight does not mean you are well-fed, or not hungry–just wait…)

        Our school provided free breakfast and lunch, and afterschool snacks.

        The children lived locally and walked to school. The majority of my students ate breakfast at home. Therefore, most didn’t want a second breakfast at school, but my fattest students did, and a couple of the students who truly were hungry. The school breakfast, following Federal guidelines as required, was extremely unhealthy: Tons of sugar. The lunches were high-carb and high sugar.

        I don’t think most of my students, or most of any at my school, were hungry. Many, many of them brought chips and spicy Cheetos to school every day to supplement their one-two breakfasts and lunch. Our playground was covered daily with mounds of trash from the snack wrappers dropped by all the students in all the grades.

        I DO think the childrens’ bodies were starved in another way: Whenever I brought fresh fruit to class to share, the children were VERY excited. They could not get enough apples, oranges, grapes, or berries. They enjoyed raw veggies with ranch dressing.

        I think these kids had severe nutritional deficiences. And the federal meal plan sure didn’t help.

        Anyhow, I believe your sources (I’ve only checked the first two). Thank you. 2008 changed everything for everyone, didn’t it?

    • gpicone December 23, 2015 at 3:56 am #

      Yes, except for the extremely wealthy among us. They have almost all seen large gains in their portfolios as have the banks that created the “crisis” in the first place.


  1. The Hunger Games | teac259blog - November 22, 2015

    […] Source: The Hunger Games […]

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