Sadly, I’m not talking about the desire to learn. A recent survey of teachers (pdf) revealed the following about hunger in the U.S. classroom:
•When K-8 public school teachers consider a list of problems they face in the classroom, they rate discipline as the top problem (83 percent), with student hunger falling among the second tier of problems (40 percent), alongside lack of supplies (42 percent):
•Similar to 2009, four in ten teachers say that children coming to school hungry because they have not had enough to eat at home is a serious problem at their school (43 percent rate the problem between 6 and 10 on a scale where ten means it is a very serious problem and zero means not a problem at all; 44 percent rated it 6-10 in 2009).
•Around two-thirds of teachers (65 percent) say there are children in their classrooms who regularly come to school hungry because they are not getting enough to eat at home (64 percent of elementary school teachers; 69 percent of middle school teachers).
•For nearly half (46 percent) of K-8 public school teachers overall, 25 percent or more of their students come to school hungry on a weekly basis (29 percent: 25-50 percent of students come to school hungry; 17 percent: 50 percent).
•Over eight in ten K-8 public school teachers (86 percent) say they frequently see children coming to school hungry, with four in ten (40 percent) saying this happens more than three times a week in their classrooms.
As to why this happens, teachers cite the following reasons:
- Unstable home environment (72 percent);
- Parents or caregivers not having enough money to buy food (55 percent);
- Parents or caregivers working or not around to prepare food for children (50 percent, and this is a particularly big problem seen by middle school teachers: 57 percent);
- Not having any food at home (45 percent).
And school nutrition programs are critical in combating student hunger:
So what are
these corrupt union thugs teachers doing about this? They’re buying food for their students out of their own pockets. Sixty-one percent buy food for the whole class to feed the hungry kids, while 41 percent buy food for hungry students to eat at home at least several times per month. (Heartless bastards!).
Explain to me how value added testing* or any of the other statistically questionable methods fix the fundamental problem of under- and poorly nourished children. Answer: they don’t. This is one of the key ways poverty affects educational outcomes.
Or we can blame teachers. When I hear progressives like Matthew Yglesias prattle on about ‘edunihilism‘ (and I’ll have a lot more to write about that idiocy), I don’t think he even realizes what most schools are like, what most teachers’ working conditions (and thus, their students’ learning conditions) are like. And this is one problem that’s pretty straightforward to solve: feed the kids.
*I’ll have more to say about the massive statistical failure of value added testing tomorrow (TEH SCIENTISMZ! permitting).