Secretary Duncan, Urban League President Morial to Spotlight States Where Education Funding Shortchanges Low-Income, Minority Students

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Secretary Duncan, Urban League President Morial to Spotlight States Where Education Funding Shortchanges Low-Income, Minority Students

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and National Urban League President Marc Morial will hold a press conference call with reporters at noon ET Friday, March 13, to discuss the importance of ensuring equity in education as part of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

Duncan and Morial will emphasize the need to close a loophole in the federal law to ensure that districts start with a level playing field so that federal dollars go to their intended purpose of providing additional support for the students who need it most. Failing to close the loophole allows inequity in state and local school funding, resulting in wealthier schools receiving more local money than their less affluent counterparts.

The call will spotlight 23 states where Education Department data show that 6.6 million students from low-income families are being shortchanged when it comes to state and local education funding. In those states, districts serving the highest percentage of students from low-income families are spending fewer state and local dollars per pupil than districts that have fewer students in poverty. The states include: Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming.

The states that are the most inequitable when it comes to district level expenditures based on student poverty levels are:

  • Pennsylvania, where the highest poverty districts spend 33 percent less than the lowest poverty districts.
  • Vermont, where the highest poverty districts spend 18 percent less than the lowest poverty districts.
  • Illinois, Missouri, and Virginia, where the highest poverty districts spend 17 percent less than the lowest poverty districts.

Twenty states also have school districts that spend fewer state and local dollars on districts with a high percentage of minority students, than they do on districts with fewer minority students. These states include: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, Wyoming.

The states that are the most inequitable when it comes to district level expenditures based on percentage of minority students are:

  • Nevada, where the highest minority districts spend 30 percent less per student than the lowest minority districts.
  • Nebraska, where the highest minority districts spend 17 percent less per student than the lowest minority districts.
  • Arizona, where the highest minority districts spend 15 percent less per student than the lowest minority districts.

But this discouraging news is not the rule. There are states where districts serving the highest percentage of students from low income families spend more state and local dollars per pupil than the lowest poverty districts, including, among others, Indiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, and North Dakota.

The information appears in data posted with the Education Finance Statistics Center, a branch of the National Center for Education Statistics. Recently, Duncan laid out his vision for a new ESEA, including the idea that opportunity for every child needs to be part of our national conscience.

Who : U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
National Urban League President Marc Morial
What : Press call on data from the Education Department that highlights inequitable state and local funding in some school districts that have a high percentage of low-income or minority students
When : Noon-12:20 p.m. ET Friday, March 13, 2015
Where : 1-888-324-0789, passcode: Equity