All posts by Amanda

A Grand Canyon in Funding–The Dollar Gap in Education

Ivy Morgan and Amy Amerikaner from the Education Trust  conducted an analysis of school funding equity across the United States. and within states. What they found was shocking for the largest economy in the world!

They have found that an $1,800 gap per student exists among school districts that service a larger population of minority populations. This is equivalent to a 13% drop in funding. While on its face 13% does not seem statistically significant, Morgan and Amerikaner explain that a sample of 5,000 students with an $1,800 gap per student equates to $9 million in lost revenue per year. This significantly impacts school district operations and  promotes further barriers to education resources.

While funding gaps promote  education inequality nationwide, not all states follow the same patterns. Morgan and Amerikaner also conducted an analysis of state by state funding for disadvantaged populations and found that some states have carefully avoided falling into this trend. Nebraska significantly contributes to the funding gap for students of color, with a nearly 24% difference in funding. 14 states across the nation display similar funding patterns that promote educational inequality among populations of color.

In contrast, Utah spends 21% more per student funding in their highest poverty districts. 14 other states follow similar funding patterns to address the needs of their highest poverty districts. It is important to note however, that Utah does not receive federal funding due to their failure to follow federal mandates. This is significant not only in the fact that Utah instead diverts local revenue towards their low-income districts, but also because federal mandates have historically contributed to educational inequality.

What is disturbing about this report, which was published in 2018, is that it correlates to an earlier report written by Linda Darling Hammond at the Brookings Institute from the late 90’s that identified educational disparity among populations of color. The fact that this funding gap has only broadened is deeply disconcerting, and emphasizes that policy-makers must proactively address funding gaps in disadvantaged populations.



The Dream of W.E.B. Dubois–Has it been realized?

W.E.B. Dubois was a prolific figure in addressing racial education inequality. Since the end of segregation, racial inequality in education should no longer exist. However, Linda Darling Hammond argues that educational inequality continues to be pervasive in education.

Unequal Opportunity: Race and Education written in 1998, emphasizes that lower achievement levels among minority student populations indicates that racial inequality has created significant gaps in student success. Hammond articulates that racial inequality is pervasive in unequal access to key educational resources, skilled teachers, and quality curriculum.

It is important to remove the fallacy that children fail as a result of a lack of interest by the student, and instead place a lack of funding as the underlying cause of this student failure. This is evidenced through the largest funding gaps being present in industrial states as opposed to rural states. Student success is more prolific in large industrial states where funding is centralized to metropolitan centers, and decentralized in historically disadvantaged communities.

This study accounts for rural student success; even urban schools which have a high percentage of low-income and minority students have lower elvels of student success and typically lower funding revenues to access key educational resources, and that minority students are less likely to have access to these resources.

In conclusion, more funding needs to be allocated to historically disadvantaged communities in order to address racial inequality in education. Increasing per student spending on a nation-wide scale will address the achievement gap that remains pervasive among disadvantaged communities and promote a culture of success.

Addressing Socioeconomic Status as a Barrier to an Equitable Education

A common fallacy which is perpetuated in Dominant American Culture is that due to a free public school system, all students have access to an equitable education. However, absolute mobility–the fraction of children who earn more than their parents–has sharply declined. Statistics from the 1940s indicate that absolute mobility was recorded at nearly 90%, compared to 50% in the 1980s.

Emma Garcia and Elaine Weiss from the Economic Policy Institute have expanded on this phenomenon in their paper “Education Inequalities at the School Starting Gate” which was written September 27, 2017.

Employing data collected from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) on kindergarten classes from 1989-1999 and 2010-2011, which measured gaps in skills by social class. These gaps existed in both cognitive and non-cognitive skills, and was measured against 12 case studies of communities that created comprehensive educational strategies for low-income children.

Utilizing socioeconomic status (SES) as a metric in their study, they found that paternal activities, parental expectations, and pre-K participation reduced the gaps between high-SES and low-SES students, but do not necessarily eliminate them. This indicated that family characteristics and investments, while contributing to student success and the SES gap, do not definitively explain why the gap continues to grow. Garcia and Weiss also state, that while parental participation in pre-K programs and time spent with younger students “cushioned” negative effects resulting from low-SES, they did not compensate for achievement gaps completely.

Garcia and Weiss conclude that policy-makers have neglected to address inequality in education, and that greater investments in early childhood development and education with comprehensive support for children throughout their academic careers would significantly address achievement gaps for disadvantaged children.

This study ardently supports early childhood education and engagement. Public consciousness of educational inequality has increased in recent years, and is evidenced through initiatives for universal pre-school, Governor Newsom’s endorsement of the First Five Program, and the shift from No Child Left Behind to Common Core. However, while these initiatives place an emphasis on early childhood education as a mechanism to critically advance education gaps from an international perspective, this paper specifically emphasized the importance of early childhood education for disadvantaged communities in addressing SES gaps.


Inside the College Gates

Inside the College Gates speaks on the United States  college system and how wealth is directly associated to higher education. This chapter speaks on two distinct  perspectives in educators approach to teaching. The perspective of education as a possession relates knowledge and capability to the degree of education. This limited view of education reproduces inequalities through making them inaccessible to lower classes. The alternative approach to education is by viewing it as a process. Stuber classifies this as where the onus of educating is on the instructor not the students resources. When students have adequate teachers that are able to tailor their methods to reach the majority of students will preform better. This book provides me with multiple perspectives to analyze my research topic from. While reading this I came across an area of research that might be worth analyzing, the stratifying process.

Is adequate school funding a global issue?

This article was published in 2016, by an education magazine in Australia. The intent of the article was to illustrate the importance of adequate funding for education. Through exposing the opinions of corrupt government officials, the author conveyed the importance for education effectively. This article made me realize that the ‘money myth’ may be a global issue. However, more research will need to be done on this topic. This article is a tertiary source at best, despite having been peer reviewed.

Possible research question:
Is there a trend between low income schools and student performance?