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.