The majority of students in U.S. public schools now come from low-income households, according to an analysis of new federal data by the Atlanta-based Southern Education Foundation.
The latest numbers, collected from states by the National Center for Education Statistics, show that 51 percent of public school students were from low-income households in 2013, according to the report.
Mississippi topped the list, with nearly three out of four students eligible for the federal free or reduced-price meal program in schools. Georgia had the seventh largest proportion of low-income students, at 60 percent.
The finding echoes research by the U.S. Census Bureau, which found rising child poverty rates since the Great Recession, especially in the South and West. The growth in what Georgia calls “economically disadvantaged” students predates the recession though, and has taken a toll on classrooms in metro Atlanta, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in December. Low-income students became the majority in Georgia in 2007, up from 42 percent in 1995.
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