Monday, March 2, 2009

‘Tidal wave’ of homeless students hits schools

In Vista, Calif., about 35 miles north of San Diego, the population of homeless kids in the local school district reached 2,542 this year — about 9 percent of the student body and nearly 10 times the number just two years ago. . . .

In a voluntary survey late last year by the association and another nonprofit, First Focus, 330 school districts reported that the number of homeless students appears to be . . . now close to 1 million — exceeding numbers in the period right after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita . . . .

Fearing the loss of their kids, she said, "parents call in and say their kid won't be in school because they are going to Disneyland for a week, when the fact is that (they) don’t have a way to get them to school. Or parents will tell kids to lie about where they live."

Interestingly, one of the ways I help my students understand the difference between the way poor parents and middle-class parents relate to schools is to ask my students how many of them would be worried that a teacher might report them to social services and take their kids away. Lareau's study showed this was a common fear of working-class parents. Almost none of my students ever raise their hands.

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