Predominantly White School Districts Receive $23 Billion More In Funding Than Mostly Black And Brown Districts, Report Finds

A new report reaffirms what we already knew.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

| February 26 2019,

1:24 pm

A new report from New Jersey-based research and advocacy group EdBuild revealed Black and brown school districts receive about $23 billion less in funding than predominantly white ones. 

The report, published on Tuesday, centers on the $23 billion figure as roughly $2,200 is used per student, and a total of 10 million children were included in the calculation. Predominantly non-white districts received less than white areas in 21 states.

One damning factoid from the report showed that school funding in New Jersey, California and New York remains among the most inequitable in the nation. Although white and nonwhite districts serve roughly the same amount of students, the funding isn't at all equal. The gap stemmed from a longstanding idea that school districts should be locally funded. 

“While we have made some progress on the issue of economic inequality in our schools, we still have a terribly inequitable system,” the report said.

Data from the report indicated white districts serve fewer students despite having more funding to educate students better.   

"White districts enroll just over 1,500 students— half the size of the national average, and nonwhite districts serve over 10,000 students— three times more than that average," the report mentioned. 

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While money and the idea of "locally controlled" districts remain an issue, the report looks at poor communities and found similar results. The report stated predominantly poor white areas received more funding than poor non-white ones.  

"Poor white school districts receive about $150 less per student than the national average—an injustice all to itself. Yet they are still receiving nearly $1,500 more than poor nonwhite school districts."

Rebecca Sibilia, EdBuild’s founder and CEO, said the current education funding gap is just an extension of this nation's historic racist housing segregation. Wealthy white neighborhoods receive more funding courtesy of redlining and gerrymandering.

“School funding is housing policy,” she told 74million.org. “It is just the new iteration of the vestiges of the mistakes we’ve made in the past.”

Only 34 states were featured in the report. Although the conditions differ from state to state, bigger districts tend to have more power.  

“When there are six times more members of a special interest, that special interest is likely to be more effective in the state capitol,” the report argued.

The data collected from the U.S. Census and education department, unfortunately, showed poor, nonwhite districts don't have enough political power to advocate for change. The report also pointed out one driving factor in the education funding gap: property taxes. As The Washington Post notes, white neighborhoods tended to have higher taxes due to higher property values. These communities are often more wealthy than those of their Black and brown counterparts. 

But property taxes aren't the only culprit. Some states realized the gap was a glaring issue. So, to balance the system, some gave nonwhite districts slightly more money per student. However, this still did not close the funding gaps present. 

“States have largely failed to keep up with the growing wealth disparities across their communities,” the report stated. 



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