While Gov. Perry tours the country arguing that Texas is an economic powerhouse, new data from the state’s education agency shows 2.9 million public school students are economically disadvantaged. The number represents 59.1 percent of the student population in the 2010-11 school year. It's a slight uptick from 58.9 percent the previous year.
Ten years ago, 49.2 percent of students were counted as impoverished. The total number of economically disadvantaged students increased from 2 million in the 2000-01 school year to 2.9 million in the 2010-11 school year, an increase of 45 percent.
Economically disadvantaged students include those whose parents’ income falls below the federal poverty line. That’s $22,350 for a family of four.
The rise in economically disadvantaged students reflects an overall increase in the Texas poverty rate. Numbers released last month by the U.S. Census Bureau show that almost one in five Texans is living below the federal poverty line, and that the Lone Star State still has the highest number of people without health insurance.
Other highlights from the Texas Education Agency's report:
- 4.9 million students were enrolled in Texas public schools in the 2010-11 school year.
- Hispanic children now make up more than half of the student population (50.3 percent).
- The percentage of African-American and white students in poverty increased from the 2009-10 to 2010-11 school years.
- The percentage of students with limited English proficiency increased by 46 percent over the last decade.