Daily Video

April 7, 2009

More Children Becoming Homeless

As the nation continues to face economic problems and more families lose their homes, many schools must cope with a growing number of homeless children. Since the economic downturn, school districts all over the country say that the number of homeless students has doubled. Schools are struggling to help the students who often turn to them for help. NewsHour education correspondent John Tulenko reports from Green Bay, Wisconsin, where over 10 percent of people are unemployed. At Howe Elementary School, about 1 in 10 students are homeless. Teachers and social workers at the school note that homeless students have a more difficult time performing well academically. Third grade teacher Susan Hoople has noticed the challenges that these children must overcome to do well in school. “If you’re homeless, and you’ve moved, and you’ve missed out on what — a unit that’s been taught in math, math is such a building block, for instance. There’s so much that goes on in just one week of school, it’s hard to pick that up and get them caught up. And if they’re resistant to that because their emotions are in the way, that makes it doubly hard,” she said.

Quotes

“The face of homelessness is changing. It’s going from that stereotypical view of homeless individuals — you know, maybe you’re single, male, you know, no family, substance-abuse issues — to families with children.” – Phil Wilmer, Executive Director, Freedom House Ministries “[Students] know what checks are coming in. They know how close they are to being on the street. And to know that you’re so close to not having a place to live I think would be extremely stressful.” – Paul Hannemann, Teacher, Howe Elementary

“I didn’t want to tell anybody I didn’t have a house, because they’d think that being homeless is, ‘Oh, you live in a garbage can.’ And it’s not even how it really is.” -Tyberious Watkins, Fifth-Grader, Howe Elementary School

Warm Up Questions

1. What does it mean to be homeless?

2. What added stress might a student feel if he or she is homeless or might become homeless?

Discussion Questions

1. What is your reaction to this video?

2. What are some of the ways that being homeless or having money problems can affect the way students perform in school?

3. The unemployment rate in Green Bay, Wisconsin is very high at over 10 percent. How might high unemployment affect the school system and the larger community?

4. Do you think that schools should spend money on social workers and lunch programs to help these students succeed academically?

Additional Resources

Read the transcript

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