The Effects of Poverty on Education in the United States

Poverty remains an urgent problem in some states and has serious implications for the nation's education sector.
Poverty remains an urgent problem in some states and has serious implications for the nation's education sector.

Poverty is a complex problem that causes a range of diverse challenges for children and their families. Although the economy of the United States is showing signs of improvement, poverty remains a serious issue in many states, particularly in the South. According to a report published recently by the Southern Education Foundation, poverty among schoolchildren living in the South is an urgent problem.

Shifting Demographics

The report indicates that in many states, the majority of children attending public schools come from low-income families. This pattern is particularly pronounced in the South and West. In the 2011 academic year, Mississippi had the highest proportion of students in public schools from low-income families at 71 percent. In Oklahoma, another state in which ChildFund operates, this figure was 61 percent, and in Texas, approximately 50 percent of public schoolchildren came from low-income households. South Dakota, the other state where ChildFund supports programs, is stronger at 37 percent, but the American Indian children we serve there are much more likely to live below the poverty line than this statistic indicates.

Children from low-income families represented a majority of public schoolchildren in all but two out of 15 Southern states.

Serious Implications

These statistics are troubling for a number of reasons, but one of the most disturbing is that low household income correlates closely with poor achievement in school.

Children from lower-income families are more likely than students from wealthier backgrounds to have lower test scores, and they are at higher risk of dropping out of school. Those who complete high school are less likely to attend college than students from higher-income families. For some children, these obstacles present unique challenges in breaking the cycle of generational poverty and reduce their chances of leading rewarding, productive lives.

ChildFund works in several U.S. communities where poverty remains high, including Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. One of the most effective ways you can invest in a child's life and bring hope to his or her family is by becoming a child sponsor. For just $35 per month for a U.S. child, you can help provide educational support, preventive health care, early childhood development programs and other important resources to families and children living in poverty. Sponsoring a child will make a difference that can last a lifetime, so please consider becoming a child sponsor today. Your generosity will make a world of difference to a child in need.


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