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Poverty, Health and Education: Wednesday’s show (February 11, 2015)

According to 2013 data from the National Center for Education Statistics, 51 percent of America’s public school students were eligible for the federal free and reduced-price lunch program in the 2012-2013 academic year. In Texas, that number rose to 60 percent. It was the first time a majority of students in our public schools met […]

According to 2013 data from the National Center for Education Statistics, 51 percent of America’s public school students were eligible for the federal free and reduced-price lunch program in the 2012-2013 academic year. In Texas, that number rose to 60 percent. It was the first time a majority of students in our public schools met that threshold.

That rate has also risen substantially in recent years. Back in 1989, 32 percent — less than a third — met that threshold. The number only rose to 38 percent by the year 2000. While eligibility for the school lunch program is only a rough estimate of poverty, it underscores the continuing growing divide between rich and poor families – and schools.

On this edition of Houston Matters, we break down the numbers further for the Greater Houston region and consider the implications as we talk with Steve Suitts, Senior Fellow at the Southern Education Foundation.

We also discuss the intersection of health and education for poor students, as we talk with Patrick Bresette, Executive Director of the Children’s Defense Fund of Texas.

Then, we learn how one Greater Houston school district, facing up to some under-performing schools, has sought to improve them by partnering with area charter schools to bring public and charter students under one roof. Houston Matters’ Edel Howlin talks with Spring Branch ISD Superintendent Duncan Klussmann about this “marriage” of two approaches to education which are sometimes perceived as working against one another.

Also this hour: We welcome your questions for Dr. Eamonn Quigley, head of the Gastroenterology Department at Houston’s Methodist Hospital. We discuss common gastroenterology concerns from acid reflux to irritable bowel syndrome to Celiac disease.

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