Tennessee outpaced the national average in terms of one ripple effect of the recession. From 2007 through 2010, the number of public school students known to be homeless increased by 74 percent. The national figure was 38 percent. Even so, Tennessee’s official count may be too low.
According to the state Comptroller’s office, the fact that at least five neighboring states have significantly larger numbers of homeless students is a sign that Tennessee’s total may be inaccurate. And it says that in a handful of places with high foreclosure and jobless rates, both of which are strong risk factors for homelessness, the districts not identify any students as lacking a safe and regular place to stay.
Federal law requires districts to track homeless students, since they often need extra help.