Are “white” schools getting extra funding? Lots more apparently, according to a report by edbuild.org. Edbuild reports that there are 21 states, including California, that have districts which receive more funding for predominantly white students. In a recently published study, researchers have identified a huge problem. High poverty districts serving mostly students of color receive an average of $1,600 less per students than the national average. Additionally, school districts that are predominantly white and poor only receive about $130 less. That’s pretty jarring.
How is this happening? Easy, geography. For example, in California, the way that our districts have been drawn is such that the neighborhoods with the high property tax rates are predominantly white. That means that the schools are mostly white and the money pouring in through property taxes is greater. Thus, if you reside in a community where homes are valued at half a million higher, the schools probably receive more funding per student than the community where the homes are valued at $250K or less.
That said, we have the added problem that our property tax funding mechanism has been exacerbated by the passage of Proposition 13 some 40 years ago. In essence, Proposition 13 slashed the tax rate causing property tax revenue to decrease significantly. In its first year, property tax revenue used for school funding dropped by nearly 60%! This represents a financial shortfall for districts in California that they have never been able to recover from.
There is currently an effort to repeal Proposition 13 that will appear on the ballot which would help school districts a lot in terms of increasing funding, but the disparity will still exist.
We need to consider taxes and geography when thinking about how we can reform education to make it more equitable.
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