Childhood Poverty: High turnover in low-income areas
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Local 12 News has been following an elementary school for the 2016-2017 school year.
An issue that is nearly unknown in higher income suburban districts keeps kids from learning at Carson Elementary School in West Price Hill: kids constantly moving in or moving out. Two-thirds of the way through the school year, the comings and goings at Carson Elementary have just kept coming and going.
First grade teacher Kim Kemen said, "When I taught in the suburbs you had your class list in the beginning of the year, and that's pretty much what you ended up with. Some of my colleagues who still work in that environment, same thing. It really does surprise them that we get so many new students, even up to the last month of school, we'll get new students that will finish out the school year with us."
Since the first day of school in August 2016, Local 12 has been following Carson where student mobility, kids moving out, kids moving in, is an inner city fact of life. Margie Dmuzio is the supervisory teacher for four, fifth grade classes, 108 total kids. Since school began, 30 kids have moved in to those classes, 18 others have moved out. That adds up to 48 changes; nearly half the fifth grade.
Low income families have enough problems with jobs and housing. Frequently changing schools not only impacts a child's ability to learn, it impact's a child's ability to be a child.
Dmuzio said, "I think our children have difficulty making friends. I think as far as the basics, how to get to know people, how to find things in common, I think it is hard for them to get close."
Because they never know when that new friend will be moving, or if they will.
Kemen is part of a two-classroom, first grade team. When school began in August, those two classes had 56 names on their rosters combined. But between kids never showing up at all, or moving out since school started, or moving in since day one there have been 29 changes. That's a churn rate of more than half for children who are 6-years-old.
Staying in the same school is so important that if a student at Carson ends up at a homeless shelter ten miles away, and that certainly does happen, or with a foster family 15 miles away in a different community, Cincinnati Public Schools will send a van to bring that child to Carson, if that's what the family wants. Carson School also plans to connect parents with low-income housing agencies to help those parents find new places to live near Carson if they get evicted. The hope is to keep things as stable as possible for the children in their very unstable world.
Local 12 News will check back again at Carson School later in the school year to see how the turnover rate is going.