Where Do You Draw the Line on School Bus Rides?

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In many school districts, preschool students are divided by annual incomes and the paperwork their parents are eligible to fill out.

Kanawha County, W.Va., resident Faith Bostic watches every day as a school bus passes her house, one that her daughter is not eligible to ride, even though some in her class are. The preschool class her daughter attends in made up of both state-funded and Head Start-funded students. And, as many know, these students are federally required (when funding is available) to ride the yellow bus.

But, as those within the Head Start community also know, only those with an annual income below the poverty line, which currently sits around $17,268 for a family with one child. And, as you can imagine, there are millions of other children whose families barely scrape by and could use any form of assistance possible, including giving their children a “Head Start” in school.

How can poverty be decided upon so strictly? Any parent knows even the bare necessities of raising a child add up quickly. Even with all the programs that exist to help those in dire straits, the families that slightly hover about the feds distinction of poverty go through hard times with very little, if any, help from state and federal aid programs.

The Head Start program was created to give children in low-income families a jump on grade school, to prepare them for a successful academic career, and I applaud their efforts over the last 45 years. But, what about the children who could use the same help? What about children who live in the same neighborhoods but whose parents make slightly more money, not enough to afford day care or a preschool program, but enough to keep them off the registration forms for the local Head Start program? What happens when the fine line between poverty and poor is blurred for too many families to count?