Friday, May 05, 2006

Public School Inequity

I attended our Urban Engagement book club yesterday. It was about Jonathan Kozol's Shame of the Nation. I've always loved the way Jonathan Kozol can present the facts in such a indisputable way.

Yesterday, Don Williams, a businessman and advocate for South Dallas, presented the facts indisputably as well. You can read about it on Larry's blog.

I always hear about the disparities between the suburbs and the inner-cities. Kozol talks about how much more funding suburban schools get per pupil versus inner-city schools. However, what Don presented yesterday shocked me.

The DISD spends an average of $6,300 on each of its high school students annually.

It spends $11,100 on each of the students at Townview [a Talented and Gifted magnet school].

Care to guess what it spends per student at its 16 lowest performing schools? If you guessed $4,300 you would be correct.

Both Townview and the low-performing schools are within the SAME public school district! So how is it that the Talented and Gifted program...which houses a majority of White students (though it is pretty evenly mixed with Black and Hispanic as well)...gets so much funding while the lowest performing schools...which are predominantly Black and/or Hispanic...gets less than half of what Townview gets?

Shouldn't it be the other way around? Shouldn't low performing schools get more money so that their students could begin performing at a higher standard...or at least up to grade level...as well? Ok...even if you don't believe that the funding should be reversed, shouldn't the funding within the same district at least be equal across the board??

How does that happen? I need to do more research. Maybe there's a simple answer that I just don't see. I always thought that the reason suburban schools were getting more money allocated to their kids was because they had a higher tax base and, therefore, were able to draw more money for their public schools. I thought the opposite was true for inner-city schools. Because most of our inner-city schools are in communities that are poor, non-homeowners, I thought that we had a lower tax base and, thus, did not have as much money to put into our children's education.

So who is making the decisions here? Who decides that most of our tax dollars should go to Townview? Who decides that the lowest-income schools deserve less funding? It seems to me that it's more proof of the saying that "the rich get richer while the poor get poorer"--in an educational sense...which ultimately results in an economic sense.

If anyone has any explanations or facts, I would be happy to listen.

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