Rarely do I come across a statistic about education that stops me in my tracks, but it happened to me first thing this morning.  The Columbus City School District puts out a “Fact of the Day” each morning and today’s especially caught my eye.



Think about that for a second.  4,500 children and youth experiencing homelessness in Columbus.  Even considering that Columbus is the largest school district in Ohio, that number is still staggering.  The concept of that number becomes even more interesting when we put it in perspective across the entire state.

Ohio has a total of 610 school districts.  Of those, 538 districts enroll fewer than 4,500 total students.  That means that Columbus provides services to more homeless children than the total number of students actually enrolled in over 88% of Ohio’s school districts.  Put another way, in 88% of Ohio’s school districts, if their entire student population was homeless, they still would have as many as in the city of Columbus.

Think about it this way — if you enrolled all of the homeless children served in Columbus into their own school district, it would be larger than 88% of Ohio’s other school districts.  Larger than places like Marion, Boardman in Youngstown, Hudson, Massillon, Xenia or Lima, and approximately the same size as North Canton, New Albany-Plain Local, and Marysville.

Meanwhile, in Ohio, the five largest districts in the state are much like Columbus and have large urban populations.  In fact, the five largest districts in Ohio – Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, and Akron – directly enroll just over 10% of the students in Ohio’s public school districts (not counting charter schools).  That means that 10% of Ohio’s students are enrolled in less than 1% (0.82% to be precise) of Ohio’s school districts.

So when legislators talk simply about changing education in Ohio — you’ve heard it — “kids these days are always using technology, so online tests won’t be a problem” — stop and think about the assumptions they’re making.

4,500.  Homeless.

Damn.  It must be the schools, right?

God forbid we talk about poverty and kids who have nothing.





  • Think.

    No matter what measure is used — performance index, proficiency scores, ACT scores — the latest results are clear: Poverty rates continue to have a direct, negative link to Ohio student achievement.
    ~Columbus Dispatch, 9/22/14

    Maybe like Ohio’s governor, legislators “don’t read newspapers in the State of Ohio.”

  • Kiara

    These students walked or were driven to school today without a coat. Just think about that.

  • DublinIrishBob

    Add up the homeless in Columbus, Toledo, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Akron schools and you might have the largest district in the state. But the legislators only count minorities and poor when it serves them politically, like boosting Dave Yost’s career or promoting charter schools.

  • dmoore2222

    I would venture to say that most Ohio legislators, if not all, never had a day of hunger or homelessness in their lives. They’re all children of privilege unlike so many pre-baby boom politicians who rose out of poverty in the old neighborhoods and small towns and were keenly aware of, and empathetic with, the plight of children like these. Modern day politicians are concerned first and foremost with preserving their place at the public trough, and then peddling their influence post political office to make serious money. These children are simply a nuisance. So this number Greg is talking about is not really surprising considering politicians are too busy fundraising and campaigning to give any thought to homelessness.

  • Red Rover

    A lot of homework assignments, reports, etc. are done on computers and require the internet too. How are these kids supposed to succeed?

  • DublinIrishBob

    I would venture to say that the majority of Ohio GOP legislators do not have a child in public schools.

  • When was the last time our elected officials visited our city schools (not charter), spoke with teachers, students, and parents? Are our elected officials too scared to visit our urban schools to find out about about the lives of students?

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