Isn’t this the biggest challenge in education today? We can talk or write all we want about closing the achievement gap, helping teachers improve practice, evaluating teachers using student achievement scores, or integrating more art into the school day, but in the end if students are homeless learning becomes like climbing Mt. Everest. Elizabeth Harris’ article in the New York Times, Where nearly Half of Pupils are Homeless, School Aims to be Teacher, Therapist, and Even Santa, or Lyndsey Layton and Emma Brown’s article in the Washington Post, Number of homeless students in U.S. has doubled since before the recession, outline the challenge we face in public education.
The government reports that 1.3 million elementary and secondary students are homeless in the United States, the richest country on Earth. That’s close to 3% of the school-age population. If we don’t attend to this social problem with more creative and impactful solutions, we cannot expect to effectively serve all students in our educational system. Society at large is failing students before they even get to school.