Majority of Public School Students in US Are Poor
It's the first time in a half-century
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 16, 2015 5:30 PM CST
Most students in public schools in the US qualify for a free or reduced-price lunch.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(Newser) – One more challenge for US public schools: A new report finds that for the first time in 50 years, a majority of students come from poor families. Specifically, the Southern Education Foundation says that 51% of students in kindergarten through 12th grade qualify for a free or reduced-price lunch, a percentage that has been steadily increasing over the years. Mississippi fared the worst, with 71% of its students in the "low-income" group, while New Hampshire did the best with 27%, reports Bloomberg.

The lunch stat is a "rough proxy for poverty," reports the Washington Post, and the percentage hasn't been this high since Lyndon Johnson's "War on Poverty" in the 1960s, says the president of the foundation that collected the data. “We’ve all known this was the trend, that we would get to a majority, but it’s here sooner rather than later,” says the executive director of the Campaign for Educational Equity at Columbia University. See for an interactive map that shows each state's percentage.