New Reports Document Massive Resource Inequities in Public Schools

Education 06.8,15

On June 8, The Leadership Conference Education Fund – along with Education Law Center (ELC) – released “Cheating our Future: How Decades of Disinvestment by States Continues to Jeopardize Equal Education Opportunity,” its new report detailing the enormous resource disparities in public schools nationwide.

In addition, the Newark, N.J.-based ELC released its fourth national report card on the 50 states’ school finance systems, “Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card,” showing that most states still don’t provide equitable resources for the millions of students attending schools in high poverty districts. These students are the most vulnerable and need additional resources and supports because their educations are at risk.

At a time when low-income students and students of color make up the majority of the nation’s public school students, the report finds that the inequities in public education are significant and growing starker each year. According to recent data from The Education Trust, the highest poverty districts in the United States receive about $1,200 less per student than the lowest poverty districts, and districts serving the largest number of students of color receive about $2,000 less than the districts serving the fewest.

“Cheating our Future” examines the dire implications of the Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling in San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, which found that funding formulas for public schools based on local property taxes did not violate the U.S. Constitution, and that education was not a fundamental right under the Constitution. The report makes the case that the ruling has allowed states and localities to perpetuate inequalities of educational opportunities and outcomes.

By profiling schools in Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Colorado, and South Carolina, “Cheating our Future” vividly illustrates how a lack of resources can create vastly unequal education opportunities, even for students within the same state. The report also makes recommendations for policymakers and advocates on how to address these disastrous disparities.

“States across the country are systematically underfunding the schools most attended by students of color,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference. “Knowingly denying vulnerable students access to the most basic resources—AP classes, up-to-date technology, expanded learning time, or basic facilities—is a moral failure that cheats these communities out of their futures.”

Read The Education Fund’s full report here.

Read ELC’s full report here.