Remark about poverty in Dallas school district pretty close to mark
In a recent opinion article, a member of the Dallas school board touted a breakfast-inthe-classroom program for heading off student hunger. The poverty level in the Dallas Independent School District, said trustee Dan Micciche, “is one of the highest in the country, higher than New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, Detroit and Newark.”
We were curious. Is child poverty in the Dallas school district that high?
Micciche told us his infor- mation came from a chart in a January 2012 report on school breakfast programs by the Food Research and Action Center, a nonprofit that focuses on reducing hunger among poor Americans. The chart lists the share of students in 26 large urban school districts determined to be eligible for federally supported free- and reduced-price school meals in a recent school year.
Students who qualify for the meal assistance do not have to be living below the federal poverty level. Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the poverty level are eligible for free meals, while children from families with incomes between 130 percent and 185 percent of the poverty level are eligible for reduced-price meals, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture fact sheet. What does that mean in actual dollars? For the year running through June 2013, 130 percent of the poverty level is $29,965 for a family of four; 185 percent is $42,643, the sheet says.
In 2010-11, the report chart indicates, 88.2 percent of the Dallas students were eligible for free- or reducedprice meals and 83.5 percent for free meals — higher rates than school districts in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, Detroit and Newark. Among all the sampled dis- tricts, the Memphis and Oklahoma City districts had greater shares of students eligible for free- or reduced-price meals than the Dallas district.
We looked at similar data compiled in 2010-11 by the U.S. Department of Education on its Elementary/Secondary Information System. Resulting percentages varied, sometimes considerably, from the survey results cited by Micciche. The Dallas and Newark districts had the greatest share of students eligible for the programs, about 87 percent total, followed by the Detroit district, at 80 percent. The Newark district had a much Spotted a questionable statement by a Texas political figure or about Texas politics? We’d like to hear about it. Send it to us at politifact@ statesman. com or 512445-3644.