Majority-White School Districts Get $23B More K-12 Funding Than Those Of Color, A Vestige Of Racial Segregation In Housing

Written by Dana Sanchez
In this Oct. 20, 2017, first-graders listen to teacher Dwane Davis at Milwaukee Math and Science Academy, a charter school in Milwaukee. Charter schools are among the nation’s most segregated, an Associated Press analysis finds — an outcome at odds, critics say, with their goal of offering a better alternative to failing traditional public schools. (AP Photo/Carrie Antlfinger)

School districts with a majority of white students receive $23 billion more in education funding than predominantly Black and brown school districts serving the same number of students – a dramatic gap that underscores the inequality of K-12 funding in the U.S.

On average, poor nonwhite school districts receive 19 percent, or $2,600, less per student than wealthy white school districts, according to a new report from EdBuild, a nonprofit that focuses on education funding.

School funding in New Jersey, California, and New York are among the most inequitable in the country, EdBuild reported.

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Much of the funding disparities can be traced back to policies like racial segregation in housing, said Rebecca Sibilia, EdBuild’s founder and CEO.

“School funding is housing policy,” Sibilia said. “It is just the new iteration of the vestiges of the mistakes we’ve made in the past.”

At least 21 states have this funding discrepancy. In Arizona and Oklahoma, the difference in per-student funding is more than 30 percent. In Arizona, poor nonwhite school districts receive 36 percent less per student than affluent white districts — more than $4,400 per student.

The report raises questions about how state and local taxes are used to raise up some children at the expense of others, according to US News.

More than half of all U.S. public school students are enrolled in racially concentrated school districts — more than 75 percent white or more than 75 percent nonwhite students, according to the report.

School district budgets are tied to property taxes. Schools in wealthy communities get more local funding. Many states try to account for this when distributing K-12 funding, directing more money to school districts with children from lower-income families. The report only counts state and local funding, but districts benefit from other sources of funding such as PTAs.