About 51 percent of the students attending public schools in Hawaii come from low-income families, according to a new report by the Southern Education Foundation.

The organization based its analysis on the percentage of students who are eligible for free or reduced lunch, the Washington Post reported. Nationally, it’s the first time in 50 years that most public school students in the U.S. are low-income.

Map of Public Schools Low Income

“The shift to a majority-poor student population means that in public schools, more than half of the children start kindergarten already trailing their more privileged peers and rarely, if ever, catch up. They are less likely to have support at home to succeed, are less frequently exposed to enriching activities outside of school, and are more likely to drop out and never attend college,” the Washington Post reported. “It also means that education policy, funding decisions and classroom instruction must adapt to the swelling ranks of needy children arriving at the schoolhouse door each morning.”

The article cited Mississippi’s superintendent, who said preschool is necessary to help low-income kids.

Hawaii is one of only 11 states that doesn’t have public preschool. Voters rejected a constitutional amendment last November that would have paved the way for the state to offer early childhood education by subsidizing private schools.

A 2014 Gallup poll found that Hawaii residents have very low confidence in the quality of local public schools. That’s among the many reasons wealthier families flock to expensive private institutions such as Punahou, which costs more than $20,000 a year.

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