Tennessee Public Schools Rating
January 17, 2012 by staff
Tennessee Public Schools Rating, This issue is not likely on the agenda of any legislator headed to Nashville this week, but the state’s recent ranking as one of the top 15 in homelessness for children is an embarrassment for Tennesseans and a call for action.
“America’s Youngest Outcasts 2010″ is the title of the study by the National Center on Family Homelessness. Tennessee’s overall ranking is 39th
Tennessee’s overall ranking has deteriorated from 24th in 2006. Clearly, the state is headed in the wrong direction.
The report estimated the number of homeless children in Tennessee in 2010 at 19,775. That number had dropped to slightly above 10,000 in 2007, but the recession with its accompanying joblessness and home foreclosures drove up the number of homeless families.
“The recession has been a man-made disaster for children,” said Dr. Ellen L. Bassuk, the medical doctor who is president and founder of the National Center on Family Homelessness. She said that there are more homeless children today – 1.6 million, the report said – than after the devastating hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2006.
Although dealing with homelessness at the state level is not likely for the current session, the recent report should spark discussion.
The report labeled the state’s planning “inadequate,” based on the absence of a state interagency council on homelessness and the absence of a statewide 10-year plan that includes children and families.
Knoxville’s Ten Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness advocated permanent supportive housing, which would allow caseworkers to deal with problems of education and jobs once individuals and families were off the street.
Compassion Knoxville, the group formed after the housing component of the Ten Year Plan was put on hold last February, devotes several recommendations to problems of family homelessness, such as public aid, jobs and keeping children in their home schools and educating parents to know that this is an option.
Knoxville, in several respects, is ahead of the state. With a new mayor and several new members of City Council, the city should be expected to revive the interest in ending homeless.
And the state needs to play serious catch-up. Homelessness, especially for children, is more than simply the lack of a stable place to live. Homelessness also means more health problems for youngsters and weak or failing education backgrounds, the report said. The national report indicated that children below the poverty line are susceptible to more chronic diseases, including respiratory conditions, and are more likely to have low reading and math skills in schools.
These problems, as supporters of the Ten Year Plan and Compassion Knoxville have emphasized over and over, are costly in the long run – not only in dollars but in the human potential lost because of an unwillingness to address the issues in a forthright manner.
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