OLYMPIA — As speakers and protesters here celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, some sobering new numbers are out on student homelessness in Washington state.
Black and Native American K-12 students in Washington state are three times more likely to be homeless than white students, according to numbers by the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Of the black student population in Washington, 7.6 percent were counted as homeless in the 2013-14 school year, according to the office’s Homeless Student Data report. In the same year, 2.3 percent of white students were counted as homeless in the same year. Native American students experienced the same homelessness rate as black students: 7.6 percent. Hispanic and Latino students experienced a homeless rate of 4.1 percent. Read the full report for yourself here.
The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance argues such increases in homelessness underscore the danger of prioritizing education funding if it means cutting social programs. State lawmakers are currently grappling with the state Supreme Court McCleary decision requiring the Legislature to fully fund K-12 education.
“These numbers make it clear that funding education at the expense of the safety net is a false choice,” said Rachael Myers, executive director of the alliance, in a statement. “Sufficiently funding basic education means funding what children need both inside and outside the classroom.”
Overall, the number of homeless students in 2013-14 grew 6 percent from the year before, to 32,494 from 30,609 in 2012-13. The report notes that some of the increases may come from better data collection.