This week, Newsweek published its America’s Top High Schools 2015 list. Of the 500 schools listed as the best in the nation, however, only six have a “poverty” rating of over 60%, the threshold for defining “low-income” schools for the purposes of federal funding. Essentially, only 1% of the top 500 schools on Newsweek’s list enroll a student body from predominantly low-income families.
These results are sobering, evidence of a growing inequity in public education that sees year-on-year gains for higher income students but a growing opportunity and achievement gap for low-income students.
In recognition of the enormous challenges faced by schools serving low-income students, Newsweek created a second list – Beating the Odds 2015 – that re-evaluates school performance based on the number of students eligible for the federal Free and Reduced Price Lunch program, a measure of poverty.
In communities most heavily impacted by the combination of low academic attainment, high unemployment, and low family income, over 90% of students are eligible for federal assistance. Twenty one of Green Dot’s 23 schools exceed this threshold.
On the Beating the Odds 2015 list of 500 schools, only 37 in the entire country are represented. Five are located in California, and three of them are Green Dot public schools: Ánimo Leadership, Ánimo Inglewood, and Oscar De La Hoya Ánimo. The three schools are recognized among the top 2% of public high schools in America serving predominantly low-income students.
While Green Dot has always stood with students and their families who strive to beat the odds, that stance acknowledges significant inequities built into the system. It is insufficient to keep our promise as a nation of opportunity. To do so, we must change the odds altogether.
Across the Green Dot Public Schools network, serving over 11, 000 students nationwide, almost 80% of all graduates are going to college, profoundly changing the odds for students born into poverty.
The vision of a good public school for every child in America is one that that Green Dot fully embraces. The dedication, skill and hard work of our teachers, counselors, leaders, students, and their families proves each day that being born into poverty need NOT be destiny.
Green Dot continues to grow its impact across the nation and will continue the fight to change the odds so that all students have equal access to high quality public schools, regardless of zip code.