VPU’s 1310 Series: Poverty Makes It Tougher for Sioux Falls Children to Learn
While Sioux Falls has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation and polling says that citizens are among the most optimistic in the country, there are some disturbing economic issues facing the city.
All this week at 5 p.m., KSOO’S Viewpoint University, examines the gap between Sioux Falls’ prosperity and growing poverty in its series, “The Magic Number is 1310.” In Monday’s first installment, Rick Knobe and Dan Peters talked with Dr. Pam Homan, Sioux Falls superintendent of schools.
She says that the number of students receiving free or subsidized school lunches has dramatically increased in the last decade—an indicator of growing poverty. Homan calculates about 40 percent of Sioux Falls’ 23,000 public school students live at or below the poverty level. She says these trends don’t bode well.
“What’s disturbing to me in the public schools is that I feel like we’re the lens and we can see the future before it arrives and we can continue to see this poverty growing within the community,” Homan said.
Homan also says that children from poor homes often lack proper dental care, face hunger and sometimes have parents that can’t always get them to school on time. These factors and others get in the way of learning.
“Poverty places a stress on that child. And it’s a stressful environment that the child lives in. And when they live in a stressful environment, they truly find it harder to concentrate, harder to sit still, harder ro rebound, probably, from disappointments and school can be much more difficult because stress impacts us,” Homan said.
Homan adds that 11 of the city’s 25 public elementary schools have half or more of their students living at or below the poverty line.