The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

L.A. Schools:
Growing Poverty

Dec 10, 2018

About 15,000 students in Los Angeles public schools are homeless, “and the actual figure is likely much higher,” according to L.A. school district officials. These are students who don’t have a permanent address. A homeless student may not be living in the street, but his or her family’s living arrangement (usually a motel, a garage, a room in a friend’s house, a shelter, or a car) does not allow for a place for the child to do homework, study, or even play – not to mention the emotional toll such instability takes on a young person’s physical and emotional development.

But chronic poverty, which eventually results in homelessness, is certainly not limited to one area. In fact, 80 percent of L.A. school district’s more than 600,000 students qualify for free or reduced-price meals at school.

Working-class people know the reasons behind the poverty. Jobs pay so little, and rent is so high in L.A., that working-class families keep paying a bigger and bigger part of their income for housing – until a family can’t afford the rent of a house or apartment and becomes homeless. Typical is the single, working-class mother who, having no credit or money for a down-payment, can’t rent an apartment – or sometimes even a garage – and is forced to live in a motel, where she ends up paying more, and is thus not able to break the downward spiral of poverty.

In other words, the reason behind poverty and homelessness is the workings of the capitalist system – the capitalists’ drive to increase profit by paying their workers less and, at the same time, increasing the prices of the goods and services they control.

The consequences are devastating from a human standpoint. Being deprived of a healthy development and an adequate education, children who grow up in poverty get stuck in the vicious cycle of perpetual poverty – especially when, as one L.A. Times reporter points out, the economy is organized to “serve those at the top.”