Recession Impacts Schools and Students

CHILDREN OF THE RECESSION logo CBS

With so many Americans losing their homes and moving away with their children, many school districts are faced with a new problem - empty desks. CBS News Correspondent Ben Tracy continues our series, CBS Reports: Children of the Recession.



Classes are out at Teel Middle School in Modesto, California.

This year students learned some very tough lessons.

"I heard one student saying that 'my mom lost her job and now we might live on the streets,'" says Rebeca Vazquez a 7th grader.

Rebeca now shares a 2-bedroom house - and one tiny bathroom - with 11 other relatives. Many of them recently lost their own homes.

Vazquez says, "They had nowhere else to go so they came here because they know room is available."

Vasquez says school is the one place she has been able to escape her problems.

"I can get away and forget about home and just come to school and do school work."

"Now that's changed?" asked Tracy.

Vasquez says, "yeah, because our school is closing."

After 57 years, it isn't just the last day of the school year. It's the last day for good. Classrooms have sat empty for years, used only for storage. There just aren't enough kids anymore.

In 2003, 1,261 students attended Teel Middle School. Now, it's 541. In just this school year alone, 77 more students left.

"You remember swarms of kids moving and now you wonder is everyone sick today? I mean, where they'd go," asks Principal Chris Schoeneman.

Modesto, California has been hit hard. It has the third highest rate of foreclosure filings in the country. When parents leave town to find work, their kids leave their schools.

Vazquez says, "My friend just left to Orange County. Her name is Melanie. She used to be in all my classes - now she's not."

Closing Teel Middle School will save the school district nearly $1,000,000 a year. Throughout California, 20,000 teachers have been laid off in the past two years. Florida has lost nearly 40,000 students since 2005. In Michigan, 29 Detroit schools are being shut down.

Eddie Solorio is an 8th grader. He's 14.

His dad just moved to San Jose for a new job, and Eddie plans to follow him this summer.

Tracy asks, "You're going to lose your house, how come?"

Soloria replies, "um, couldn't afford it no more."

The rest of the students will also be moving. They'll be split between two middle schools.

One is "Glick" their cross-town rival, built at the height of the housing bubble.

Both students are teachers didn't know if they'd be spilt from their friends.

"I don't know which teachers I'll be with. I don't know who my principal will be," says Maggie Costa, a teacher.

The last diplomas are handed out at Teel. As the final minutes of the final day tick away, things are already different.

"They want to a part of something at this age, and they're a part of Teel. Now that will be closing and so who can I be a part of?" asks Judi Rand a teacher.

Losing their second home may be the one lesson these students never forget.

  • Ben Tracy

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