The next huge case, like Brown, will be about equity in education funding. It may not come this year or the next year. It, like Brown, may come several years after a Plessy. It will come. Equity in education funding is the civil rights issue of this century. See, The Continuing Relevance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Sabra Bireda has a new report from the Center for American Progress, Funding Education Equitably
The old axiom that the rich get richer certainly plays out in the American classroom—often to the detriment of achieving academic success. Data on intradistrict funding inequities in many large school districts confirm what most would guess—high-poverty schools actually receive less money per pupil than more affluent schools.1 These funding inequities have real repercussions for the quality of education offered at high-poverty schools and a district’s ability to overcome the achievement gap between groups of students defined by family income or ethnicity.
The source of these funding inequities is not a deliberate scheme designed to steer more state and local funds to affluent schools. Rather it is often the result of an accumulation of higher-paid, more senior teachers working in low-poverty schools. High-poverty schools typically employ less-experienced, lower-paid teachers, thereby drawing down less of the district’s funds. The imbalance in funding created by this situation can total hundreds of thousands of dollars school by school.2 Archaic budgeting practices that track positions instead of actual school expenditures only serve to reinforce this inequity….
Donna Gordon Blankinship of AP is reporting in the Seattle Times article, Supreme Court to Hear Arguments on School Funding
Stephanie McCleary has known about the disparities between rich and poor school districts for most of her life, how cities with a robust local tax base can pay for fancy microscopes and video cameras and the newest laptop computers, while small towns like Chimacum – where she works and her kids go to school – can’t afford window blinds or parts to fix classroom heaters and may need a grant to buy a new battery and pads for a donated portable defibrillator.
She was 13 years old when the Washington Supreme Court decided the state was not fulfilling its duty to the children of Washington by forcing school districts to use local dollars to make up for the money they weren’t getting from the state. More than 30 years later, the mother of two school-age children has her name on a similar case about to be heard by the state’s highest court.
Superior Court Judge John Erlick ruled in favor of McCleary and a coalition of school districts, parents, teachers and community groups in February 2010, saying the state was not fully paying for basic education and was violating the state constitution. The state has appealed and the Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments on Tuesday….
The state, meanwhile, believes Erlick reached beyond the high court’s previous ruling on this issue in 1978, in Seattle School District vs. State, by making many more demands on the Legislature to determine the actual costs of education – not just basic education – and to find stable and dependable state funds to cover those costs….
In its appeal documents, the state also says the trial court focused too much on educational outcomes. Erlick’s ruling said the state doesn’t provide enough money to give every child a chance to meet the state’s essential learning requirements. Instead, the state depends on funding formulas that don’t correlate with the actual cost to teach the state’s children, he wrote.
Washington uses sales, business and state property taxes to pay about 72 percent of what it costs to educate Washington’s 1 million school children in kindergarten through 12th grade. Another 16 percent comes from local levies and 9 percent comes from federal dollars, primarily for education of special-needs children. About 40.9 percent of the state’s general fund is allocated for K-12 public education.
“You cannot spend your way into academic success,” Clark said, pointing out that an expert witness during the trial said there’s no civilization in the history of the planet that has provided education to the point of universal success for its citizens.
McCleary’s attorney, Thomas Ahearn, has filed an appeal of one point of the decision and wants the Supreme Court to give the state a deadline for fulfilling the constitution’s promise in Article IX, section 1: “It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders.”
Clark says the proposed deadline, after next school year, would be impossible to meet.
Ahearn says state officials have been talking about this issue for more than 30 years, that it’s been studied to death…
The evidence of those cuts is clear in tiny Chimacum, which serves children from four small towns across about 150 square miles. The no-stoplight town includes a handful of restaurants, a few taverns, a grocery store and a couple of other businesses.
During a walk across the campus that includes high school, middle school and elementary, McCleary talks about cannibalizing parts from heaters in empty classrooms to fix equipment in other rooms. The in-school alternative program sought community donations to pay for window blinds for a portable classroom. High school offerings – already small compared to bigger districts – have been cut back for next year. Class sizes continue to grow. And the alternative program is looking for more ways to trim 15 percent from its budget.
In What’s Missing? Well Leadership which moi wrote on January 1, 2010:
The legislators are correct in their prudence about the budget, but the question is whether they are being, as the saying goes, “penny wise and pound foolish.” There is a reason why the drafters of the state constitution stated that education was the “paramount duty” of the state. So much of economic development and full employment is based on an educated and skilled population. Third world countries are undeveloped for many reasons including unsustainable debt, corruption, and being disadvantaged in the world system of trade. One of the primary reasons that third world countries are third world is the limited education opportunity for the majority of their population.
At the same time the legislators are looking reducing the prison population and reducing other programs for substance abuse, the legislators should be looking at the genesis of many societal problems – a poor education, particularly among the low-income and populations of color. Parents. Com has some interesting statistics on dropouts
Facts About Dropouts: Who Is at Risk of Dropping Out
The following information shows certain groups of young people whose members are more likely than others to leave school before graduating. While not everyone in these categories drops out, paying special attention to the needs of students from these groups can keep some of them in school.
· Students in large cities are twice as likely to leave school before graduating than non-urban youth.
· More than one in four Hispanic youth drop out, and nearly half leave by the eighth grade.
· Hispanics are twice as likely as African Americans to drop out. White and Asian American students are least likely to drop out.
· More than half the students who drop out leave by the tenth grade, 20% quit by the eighth grade, and 3% drop out by the fourth grade.
Earnings and Opportunities for Dropouts
The gap between dropouts and more educated people is widening as opportunities increase for higher skilled workers all but disappear for the less skilled.
· In the last 20 years the earnings level of dropouts doubled, while it nearly tripled for college graduates.
· Recent dropouts will earn $200,000 less than high school graduates, and over $800,000 less than college graduates, in their lives.
· Dropouts make up nearly half the heads of households on welfare.
· Dropouts make up nearly half the prison population.
The Lives of Dropouts
In a recent survey, dropouts, approximately 18-years-old, were asked to tell about their lives before they decided to leave school. They said that both their personal and schools lives were very hard. Experiences like the following ones, which they revealed, can be considered a warning sign that a student is a dropout risk:
· 20% were married, living as married, or divorced, with females more likely than males to be married. Nearly 40% percent had a child or were expecting one.
· Nearly 25% changed schools two or more times, with some changing for disciplinary reasons.
· 12% ran away from home.
· Almost 20% were held back a grade, and almost half failed a course.
· Almost one-half missed at least 10 days of school, one-third cut class at least 10 times, and one-quarter were late at least 10 times.
· One-third were put on in-school suspension, suspended, or put on probation, and more than 15% were either expelled or told they couldn’t return.
· 11% were arrested.
· 8% spent time in a juvenile home or shelter.
Clearly, there are adverse effects for children who dropout of school. One way to decrease the number of dropouts is early education programs.
A conference where MIT was a participant described the economic benefit of early childhood programs
You must pay attention to the next election.
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