Poor schools don't get "fair share": Education Department

WASHINGTON Wed Nov 30, 2011 5:54pm EST

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Many poor public schools do not pay teachers and educators as much as wealthier schools just a few miles away, according to a survey of 13,000 school districts the U.S. Department of Education released on Wednesday.

The department found that more than 40 percent of schools with low-income students spend less per pupil than other public schools in the same district.

"Many public schools serving low-income children aren't getting their fair share of state and local education funding," said Education Secretary Arne Duncan on a conference call with reporters, adding that the survey encompassing the 2008-09 school year "confirmed an unfortunate reality."

Data was collected as part of the 2009 economic stimulus plan, which flooded states with education money and required extensive reporting on how dollars flowed. New Jersey schools were not included in the survey because the state included federal funds in its calculations.

"The net result is this: in far too many places, Title One money is filling budget gaps rather than closing achievement gaps," Duncan said.

The federal government provides extra funds for schools attended by lower-income students under the part of U.S. education law known as "Title One." In order to receive the money, districts must provide an equal funding to all schools.

The survey found that at the elementary level 46 percent of those schools with lower-income students spent less per pupil than the average of other schools in the same district.

The department found that at 42 percent Title One middle schools, spending per pupil was less than at neighboring non-Title One schools. For Title One high schools the proportion was 45 percent.

State and local funding for education is key, as the U.S. government pitches in less than 10 percent of school funding. States contribute nearly half. Local governments such as counties, cities and school districts primarily use property tax revenues to provide the rest.

As states in the midst of budget crises slash spending and property revenues plummet from the housing market downturn, taxpayers are watching how every education dime is spent.

"Educators, parents, policymakers all understand that low- income students need extra support and resources to succeed," Duncan said.

The department also looked at schools that had poverty rates above the average in their districts. Under this method, poorer schools appeared closer in spending equity with wealthier schools.

For the elementary level, which typically includes kindergarten through sixth grade, 42 percent of higher-poverty schools spent less per pupil. A little more than a third of high-poverty middle schools and high schools had lower spending.

The data comes a day after the U.S. Census reported that nearly half of all children in America live in school districts with high levels of poverty.

Duncan said measures to rectify the inequity are included in current education legislation in Congress.

The oft-criticized law known as No Child Left Behind expired more than four years ago, and a renewal has slowly staggered through Congress. For more than a year, Duncan and President Barack Obama have advocated using the reauthorization to ensure equitable funding within districts.

Education department staff cautioned against using the data released on Wednesday to compare spending of districts or states. They said a more comprehensive report would be released in coming months that included federal funding, more recent spending years, and data on New Jersey.

(Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Diane Craft)

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Comments (3)
UnPartisan wrote:
“The net result is this: in far too many places, Title One money is filling budget gaps rather than closing achievement gaps,” Duncan said.

This is my main gripe with liberal thinking. Throwing more money at the probem doesn’t solve the problem, it just creates new problems. Over the last 30 years we have spent more and more money, and in return we have gotten worse and worse results. A lack of funding isn’t the problem. Underpaid teachers are not the problem. The problem as I see it lies with parents who are not involved in their child’s education for a large variety of reasons. Many of the reasons are beyond a parent’s control, and is much harder in a single parent household. However, throwing more money at the board of education is not going to address that.

Nov 30, 2011 6:21pm EST  --  Report as abuse
weejaa wrote:
I’m a liberal propagandist, and I know that you are an ignorant dupe of liberalism who will repeat the headline, and will be too stupid to understand the facts in the story.

“46 percent of those schools with lower-income students spent less per pupil than the average of other schools in the same district”.

–So, IN THE MAJORITY OF THE CASES (54%), the schools with lower-income students SPEND MORE PER PUPIL.

“The department found that at 42 percent Title One middle schools, spending per pupil was less than at neighboring non-Title One schools”.

So, in other words, IN THE MAJORITY OF CASES (58% of the time), Title One Schools SPEND MORE PER PUPIL then non-title one Schools.

“A little more than a third of high-poverty middle schools and high schools had lower spending”.

–Again, remarkably TWO-THIRDS of the high-poverty middle schools and high Schools HAVE HIGHER SPENDING.

This entire article is composed of factual information that disproves the Headline of the Story.

Nov 30, 2011 6:53pm EST  --  Report as abuse
lakshmanan_p wrote:
We,in Taminadu,India, have achieved a fabulous return in elementary education by special schemes.Poor children are immensely benefited by the popular noon meal scheme.School drop outs reduced drastically and learning process improved considerably.By scholarships and loans provided by nationalised as well as private banks,students go to higher and technical education.Employment for technically qualified persons is available as soon as they come out of the college.If a most populated country like ours can achieve this,despite 33% of the people are living below the poverty line,why not others?

Nov 30, 2011 7:22pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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