White, Rich Schools Are Better Funded in a Lot of States

Do all kids get a fair shot in this country? Probably not.

Visit a handful of public schools and youíll find that the standard of education is not the same from school to school. As a new report released by the Education Trust highlights, school districts in the poorest areas are allocated $1,000 less per student in combined state and local funds when compared to richer areas.

Although disturbing, this money revelation is hardly surprising. Itís no secret that some schools attract better teachers, have more materials and maintain support services. A lot of that boils down to the budgets these schools have to pay for such things.

Arguably, itís the poorer school districts that need more funding to make up for other disadvantages and the achievement gap. By allocating more money to the kids with more institutional privilege, itís all the more inevitable that kids from the poorer areas will lag behind.

However, only six states funnel at least 15 percent more money to their schools with students experiencing the highest levels of poverty. A total of twenty states make sure the less well-off schools get over a 5 percent advantage in funding.

Even amongst those states, inequality can still be detected, though. Another factor that Education Trust looked for is the amount of funding that went to white schools compared to schools with a more diverse population. Indeed, districts that enroll the most students of color wind up with less tax dollars to fund their schools.

By the federal governmentís own estimate, it costs school districts in high-poverty areas 40 percent more to provide comparable services. In that respect, the researchers believe schools are being shortchanged the equivalent of $2,000 per head in these at-risk districts.

The state that is most egregious for educational disparity is Illinois, which doubles the nationís average gap. There, the poorest communities got 22 percent less state and local dollars (per student) than the more affluent ones. Other states that need to seriously examine the educational money gap are Missouri, New York and Alabama.

The reason for that is that Illinois generates a lot of its educational funds specifically from property taxes. As a result, well-to-do communities with higher property values get more money for their schools. Thatís a flawed system when you factor in the disparity it creates.

If thereís any good news in the report, itís that the situation has gradually improved. Education Trust last looked at the funding disparity three years ago, and the difference is now three percent smaller than it was in 2015.

Recognizing the problem is an essential first step toward eliminating the gap, but now itís up to state leaders to decide itís an issue that deserves fixing. The question is whether or not the powers-that-be actually care that students living in poverty are being left behind academically. So long as their more fortunate children are receiving a quality education, maybe they do not care about reallocating tax funds in a more equitable manner.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

38 comments

Winn A
Winnie A3 months ago

No surprise here

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Magdalen B
Magdalen B3 months ago

Well there's a surprise!

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Loredana V
Loredana V3 months ago

Not surprising

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Margaret G
Margaret G3 months ago

The Parkland, Florida students go to very well funded public schools. They have been taught to think, which is causing problems for the NRA and its stooges, mostly Republicans. Betsy DeVos has the answer to spare these beleaguered politicians. Destroy good public education.

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Lisa M
Lisa M3 months ago

Noted.

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Lisa M
Lisa M3 months ago

Noted.

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Jetana A
Jetana A3 months ago

Not surprising, but sadly unfair to children living in poverty.

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John B
John B3 months ago

Thanks Kevin for sharing the info.

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Cruel Justice
Cruel Justice3 months ago

I don't think DeVos wants poor kids to have ANY education, and, if she can do it, everyone else will go to a RELIGIOUS charter school. She HATES public education.

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Muff-Anne York-Haley

Greedy governments are crowding way too many people into our country.

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