OPINION NHDC EDUCATION COMMITTEE
SCHOOL CLOSINGS :THE IMPACT ON STUDENTS FROM LOW-INCOME FAMILIES
The stay-at-home requirement is having an affect on all students in public and private schools, but students living in low-income areas of the county who attend public schools are faced with special challenges.
Attendance at free public schools is the only way these children can develop the tools to escape poverty and become contributing citizens. They depend on face-to-face contact with teachers for emotional and academic support. Going to school physically each day means getting their meals and taking home lunch bags for the weekend. For the most part they have to be content to receive packaged paper lessions because most cannot afford access to the internet and/or purchase a computer.
What do we actually know about these kids and their families?
Thirty-one percent of them were eligible for free and reduced price meals during the 2016-2017 school year. *
Twenty-four thousand five hundred children live below the poverty line In
Harford had a 51% increase in persons living in poverty from1990 to 2016.**
Eight and three tenths percent of the people in Harford County participated in the Food Supplement Program (Food Stamps) in 2017.**
Some 11,750 people living in Harford County are uninsured. The highest rate of unin- sured in the State of Maryland.***
Over 45,000 countians participated in the Medicaid (Medical Assistance) Program in FY 2017.
And now, due to businesses closures due to the virus, our economy is taking a beating. The promise of implementing the much needed Kirwan Commission reform plan, to ad- dress the emotional and educational need of these children, has little or no chance of being funded anytime soon, even if the Legislature overrides the Governor’s veto. Kir- wan would have addressed their special education needs, focused on more services to poverty schools, and would have brought more of these children into the Pre-K pro- grams. The need to address these issues is reflected in a quote from Aristotle.
“Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.”
*The Maryland Department of Education Report
** Census Bureau, American Community Survey 2016
***(Census Bureau, American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates 2012-2016***