David’s story is not unusual. During the 2013-2014 school year, 6415 students in Idaho were counted as homeless (Idaho Department of Education, 2015). These numbers include students who were lived in shelters, resided in hotels, lived in cars or on the street, or where multiple families shared a residence. Unfortunately, this number is growing year after year. Part of the reason for the growth maybe because reporting has improved and educators are better at spotting the signs of student homelessness.
In 2001, the McKinley-Vento Act was reauthorized as part of No-Child Left Behind (Mirzazek & Hinz, 2004). This act provides schools with the funding to ease the access to education for homeless students. The goal of the act is to keep children in their school of origin by providing transportation if the child has to move around to shelters or other living situations. Some districts have become creative and developed entire schools dedicated to homeless populations. The Phoenix, Arizona school district enrolls their homeless children in the Thomas Poppas School. This dynamic staff is able to address the specific needs of these children. They recognize the need for ability leveling in various subject levels because the students moved around and may have mi...
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... the student does not need to wait an extended period for new services to begin. Homeless students should be made available every opportunity: special education, language services, field trips. Teachers need to think outside the box to make the system work for these children because they will often not willingly volunteer or ask to participate. School leaders and teachers need to reach out to parents and include them in the educational process (Mizerek & Hinz, 2004).
Homeless students do not have to fall through the cracks in the educational system. Students like David can be successful in schools if teachers and school leaders are vigilant about focusing on their needs. School leaders need to provide training and resources for teachers. While childhood may not be idyllic for all students, school can at least be a place of stability, safety and growth.
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