If you have not been paying attention, the majority enrollment in US public schools has changed. Formerly, whites comprised the majority of enrollment across the nation – but, no longer! Now, children of color make up the majority enrollment in the nation’s public schools, and that makes the opinions shared by parents and families of color more important than ever before.
These demographic facts of life make a recent survey by the Leadership Conference Education Fund especially interesting. The Fund surveyed 400 African American and 400 Latino or Hispanic parents or family members actively involved in the upbringing of a child between the ages of 5 to 18 to determine their thinking about the nation’s public education system. The results are interesting, and I’ll be discussing them over the next few days.
However, one opinion strongly shared by parents of color across the country definitely isn’t correct, at least as far as Kentucky’s largest school district is concerned.
The survey reports the following opinion levels for Hispanic and African-American family members regarding the funding they think their schools receive versus funding in white communities.
I had a feeling this isn’t correct in Kentucky due to our SEEK funding formula, so I took a look at the per pupil funding in each of the regular public schools in Jefferson County, Kentucky. This is reported in the Kentucky School Report Cards “Data Sets” section in the “Learning Environment,” “Students/Teachers” Excel spreadsheet. This same spreadsheet also shows the percentage of minority student enrollment in each school. I decided to compare the per pupil funding to the percentage of African-American students enrolled in each school.
I first collected the funding and African-American student enrollment percentages for the regular (Class A1) schools in Jefferson County. I then rank ordered the schools by their per pupil spending. Next, I broke the list down into four quartiles and computed the average spending amount and the average African-American enrollment for each quartile.
This next table shows what I found:
As you can see, at least for Jefferson County’s regular public schools, schools with higher minority population actually receive notably more money per student than schools where there is higher white enrollment. The difference isn’t small, either, amounting to a difference of $4,229 dollars per student between the highest and lowest funded quartiles. In fact, the top quartile funding is 56 percent higher than the average per pupil funding for the lowest quartile of schools.
So, at least in Kentucky’s largest school district at least, the funding excuse doesn’t work out so well. There is more money in high minority schools. Never the less, the education just isn’t happening.
Whether this is true in other states, I’ll leave for others to determine.
I restricted my analysis to just one school district because accounting differences in various Kentucky school systems mean the per pupil spending in the state’s schools isn’t being consistently reported across all school districts. This is a major problem I have pointed out for years (Example: our Bang for the Buck report back in 2012). Years later, the Kentucky Department of Education still has failed to fix this very serious transparency problem.
In any event, by only looking at Jefferson County’s schools, we should anticipate similar financial reporting rules are used, and the numbers should be comparable.
You can see my spreadsheet with the calculation of the Jefferson County per pupil spending quartile calculations by clicking Spending Vs Black Enrollment in JeffCo Schools.