Education inequity has long been seen as a major contributing factor to the wealth gap that persists in America. Now, a new report by EdBuild is shedding light on just how disparate the funding is for the schooling of non-white students compared to their white counterparts.
“The story of our communities can in many ways be told through the lens of the school districts that serve our children,” the report starts. More than organizations that enable learning, school districts are geographic boundaries that serve as magnifying lenses that allow us to focus on issues of race and wealth. They are both a statement of “what is” and “what could be” in our society.”
The study shows that while white districts enroll a little more than 1,500 students, and non-white districts serve closer to 10,500 — made possible in large part by borders being drawn around wealthy communities — both districts receive the same amount of funding. That’s because small (predominantly white) districts are able to concentrate their money. Local taxes paid by homeowners stay within the confines of their strategically drawn communities, while others are left to “share the wealth” among three times the number of pupils.
According to the research, that breaks down to students in non-white districts getting $2,226 less towards their education. Taking it a step further, the study also observes that even though poor-white school districts receive about $150 less per student when compared to the national average, they still receive nearly $1,500 more than poor-nonwhite school districts. Either way you flip it, white students (whether rich or poor) fare better than minorities.
To that end, the report concludes that “financially, it is far better in the United States to have the luck and lot to attend a school district that is predominantly white than one that enrolls a concentration of children of color.”
“That is the inherent shame of the system we’ve built, and one we haven’t gone far enough to fix,” researchers say.
This article originally appeared in Essence.