October 25 2013
Patrice J. Lee
ObamaCare is an embarrassment for the Administration but it also provides a distraction from weak economic news and the status of life in America.
We’ve reported on the disappointing job numbers earlier this week, but the millions of Americans who have dropped out of the job market is only one story. There are over one million homeless students from preschool through high school –and that’s an all time high.
According to new data, 1.2 million children in public preschools, elementary, middle and high schools have no place to call home. That is up 10% from the previous school year and up 72% from the start of the recession.
Advocacy groups say continuing economic struggles are causing more students to end up homeless, meaning that they live in shelters, motels, or are staying temporarily with someone else because they have nowhere to live.
"The recession isn't over for America's poorest families," said Barbara Duffield, Policy Director of the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth. "There's a gap between what jobs are available, what those jobs pay and what affordable housing is available."
What also struck me is that some of the states with the largest populations of homeless students happen to be states that the Administration shoveled loads of funding to push ObamaCare including California and Florida, as they are states with the highest levels of uninsured Americans.
Looking at the report reveals other interesting trends in student homelessness:
- The number of students living in doubled-up and in hotels/motels situations increased between school years 2010-11 and 2011-12, while the number of students whose primary nighttime residence was categorized as sheltered or unsheltered decreased.
- Of all the homeless students enrolled in grades 3-8 who took standardized tests, 51 percent met or exceeded reading proficiency standards, 48 percent met or exceeded proficiency standards in mathematics, and 48 percent met or exceeded proficiency standards in science.
In addition, USAToday reports that the number of college applicants who indicated they are homeless is also up nationwide from almost 54,000 to 58,000:
Barbara Duffield, policy director at the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) says she believes the number of homeless students has increased over the last few years.
Duffield says the struggling economy is part of the reason behind college homelessness.
"Parents tend to start focusing resources on younger kids, and sometimes that can lead to abuse and neglect," she says. "Sometimes they just can't take care of them anymore."
"But for most students, they haven't had that support their whole lives," Duffield says.
While it’s unacceptable that we can’t get any numbers from the Administration about ObamaCare enrollments 25 days after its rollout, in view of these homelessness statistics it’s a reminder that healthcare is not the primary concern for most Americans. As Gallup found earlier this year, their primary concern is still the economy and employment. Americans desire to work and feed and shelter their families.
Every six months or so the President pivots back to the economy, which he claims is his primary concern. However, feigned indignation at the state of the economy accomplishes nothing. Our leaders’ priorities are misplaced and who suffers are these homeless children and their families.