02-19-2017  1:17 pm      •     

The roster of homeless students in Washington State's  K-12 schools reached a whopping 27,390 during the 2011-12 school year, according to the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

That's up almost 5 percent from the year before and more than 46 percent from 2007-08, when the recession first slammed area families.

"It's heartbreaking," said Nathan Olson, state schools communications manager. "One student homeless is heartbreaking, 27,000 is heartbreaking times 27,000."

The latest number is based on reports of school-district representatives, who submit the number of students who are homeless in their districts to the superintendent's office.

The higher figure stems partly from better reporting, Olson said, because the superintendent's office is working to increase awareness of the issue and connect families to available services.

In recent years, the economic downturn has continued to take its toll.

According to the federal Stewart B. McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act, students are considered homeless if they "lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence." This includes a broad array of living arrangements: motels, hotels, shelters, cars, public spaces, abandoned buildings, trailer parks, bus or train stations, substandard housing or any other "public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings."

"It's really a poverty issue more than anything," said Dinah Ladd, who works on the issue for Seattle Public Schools.

She says the ways poverty impacts kids' lives are as varied as the number of students—the housing market, lost jobs, sudden illness, greater severity of needs and lack of shelters are all contributing factors. Substance abuse or mental-health factors might play a role. Some are chronically homeless, Ladd said, whereas others are "just having a hard time."

Some students "double up," meaning they share the housing of others due to economic reasons. Many are transient.

Limited funding and cuts to state programs exacerbate the issue, Ladd said.

According to the superintendent's office, the federal government allocates about $950,000 annually to Washington state to fund resources and programs serving students who are homeless. Those funds are distributed to the various local education agencies through grants.

"We could use more," Olson said, "but it is something."

Of the K-12 students comprising the 2011-12 figure, middle- and high-school students are hardest hit, Ladd said.

"It's becoming more common for families to be homeless as opposed to what people think of as homeless," Ladd said. "It's really families, people with children, [with a] mom and dad, middle-class people slowly finding themselves in that predicament."

The McKinney-Vento Act mandates that students who are homeless have equal opportunity to the same educational opportunities as other students, providing transportation if necessary to keep students at their school of origin and offering them the proper resources to actively stay in school.

Outside of the classroom, students who are homeless face difficult lives.

"Some kids don't know what they're going to eat, where they're going to be," Ladd said. "They have a very uncertain future even with this ability of trying to keep them stable."

According to a 2008 report from the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth and First Focus, children and youth who are homeless are more likely to experience physical, mental and developmental health problems than other children. They are more likely to perform poorly in school, leading to reduced chances of graduation.

While educational measures like McKinney-Vento do help, Ladd said it's not enough to overcome the issue.

"We can do our piece in school with the educational [part], but some of that support needs to come from things that happen after school," Ladd said.

Namely, the lasting stigma against those who are homeless inhibits improvement.

"One thing that I think keeps the situation bad is that there's a lot of discrimination against homeless people," said David Delgado, a case manager at Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets in Seattle.

In King County, the Committee to End Homelessness is one group working to end such stigmatization and bring awareness to the problem.

The committee maintains a "Youth and Young Adult Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness" as well as hosts advocacy events and conversations about homelessness.

"I think people are misguided," Ladd said. She cited a misconception that homeless people have to look a certain way, be a certain way, be a certain color.

"They can be educated, they can be going to school."


Sheridan Smalley is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory


Recently Published by The Skanner News

  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
    Read More
  • FDR executive order sent 120,000 Japanese immigrants and citizens into camps
    Read More
  • Pruitt's nomination was strongly opposed by environmental groups and hundreds of former EPA employees
    Read More
load morehold SHIFT key to load allload all
Oregon Lottery
Carpentry Professionals


Reed College Jobs
His Eye is on the Sparrow