Validating minority cultures in public education
To account for this difference, the NCES calculates a Comparable Wage Index (CWI) for each school district based on the average non-teacher wage in the district’s labor market. If non-teacher wages are high in a given market, the NCES assumes it has a high cost of living.
The NCES excludes teacher wages from the CWI calculation to avoid confusing a district’s commitment to education funding with general cost-of-living differences. Living expenses can still vary within markets, sometimes considerably.
Other analysts, such as Jonathan Kozol, have explored case studies of poorly funded minority schools, but the limited set of examples are not representative of the national picture. The Education Trust, a non-profit advocacy group committed to closing the achievement gap, published a 2005 report on funding differences between the highest-minority and lowest-minority school districts in states and large cities. Leaving out the districts in the middle, however, can lead to misleading results.
One of the more rigorous reports on funding disparities was published by the Urban Institute. The authors of the study combined district-level spending data with the racial and ethnic composition of schools within districts.
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Nationwide, raw per-pupil spending is similar across racial and ethnic groups.
The small differences that do exist favor non-white students.
In 2009, white public school eighth-graders outscored their black classmates by one standard deviation (equivalent to roughly two and a half years of learning) on the math portion of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test. Racial differences in achievement like this one are pervasive in the U. education system, and the gaps have persisted for decades.
They found that spending on minority students eclipsed spending on white students in the early 1980s and remained slightly higher through 2002, the most recent year in their study.
This paper employs a similar methodology, using 2006–2007 datasets from the U. Department of Education to examine school funding at both the national and regional levels.
Darling-Hammond, for example, has written extensively on specific inputs, particularly teacher certifications, that tend to be lower in schools with large minority populations.
But deficiencies in certain resources do not necessarily indicate an overall disparity.