More than 16,000 public schools struggle in the shadows of concentrated poverty. The portion of schools where at least three-quarters of students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals – a proxy for poverty – climbed from 12 percent in 2000 to 17 percent in 2008.

There is a class struggle in our county and in our country. In our State, we have over 1.6 million students. Nearly half of our students come from families receiving TANF or Food Stamps. In Hall County schools, 51% of all students are labeled “economically disadvantaged.” It is a class stuggle but it’s in the class room.

When a students stomach rumbles from hunger, everyone hears it. Even if not everyone feels hunger.

The federal government released a statistical portrait of these schools Thursday as part of its annual Condition of Education report. When it comes to educational opportunities and achievement, the report shows a stark contrast between students in high-poverty and low-poverty schools (those where 25 percent or less are poor).

“Low poverty schools are defined as those where 25 percent or less are poor.” South Hall Middle School was labeled as having a 71% poverty level. Chestnut Mountain 32%. Flowery Branch 34%. Friendship and Spout Springs can’t qualify as a low poverty school. Martin supports 49% of its students as ‘economically disadvantaged.’ 

High-poverty schools “get worse teachers … are more chaotic … [have] lower levels of parental involvement … and lower expectations than at middle-class schools – all of which translate into lower levels of achievement.”

No one is surprised that employment and education have a direct link to life achievement. Are they? But Republicans are cutting funding for education and employment for teachers to balance their budget and lower the cost of government.

They might as well fire their wives to cost living expenses during hard times.

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