Education inequality hurts low-income black and Latino students forced to learn in schools with crumbling walls, old textbooks, and unqualified teachers, a new report from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has found.
The commission found that education inequality is primarily driven by the fact that schools are mostly funded by state and local tax dollars. According to the U.S. Department of Education, more than 92% of funding is derived from non-federal sources.
The imbalance created by this lack of federal intervention creates a system where, “education available to millions of American public school students [is] profoundly unequal,” the commission said.
The study points to the fact that only one-third of high schools with high black and Latino enrollment offer calculus, versus 56% of high schools with low black and Latino student populations. Overall, 48% of the country’s schools offer that high-level math course.
Another issue in education inequality is that the average school district spends around $11,000 per student each year, but the most poverty-stricken areas of the country receive an average of $1,200 less per child than the least-poor districts. Districts serving the largest numbers of minority students, meanwhile, fair even worse – they get around $2,000 less than schools serving the fewest students of color, the study found.
The ultimate recommendation of the commission was for Congress to create incentives for states to adopt equitable funding systems. Other recommendations included ensuring adequate funding for students with disabilities and to inject more federal funding to help supplement local dollars for underfunded school districts.
“Federal, state, and local government should develop incentives to promote communities that are not racially segregated and do not have concentrated poverty,” the report said.
With income inequality being one of the most contentious issues of our time, the combination of that growing issue, alongside other disparities like education inequality and racial preferences in the U.S., only serves to further political discord.
“Poverty, segregation persist in U.S. schools, report says,” PBS, January 11, 2018.