Why Do White School Districts Have More Money?
Updated: Sep 28
There is troubling news out of New Jersey. Predominantly white school districts, caused by racially segregated neighborhoods, have nearly $2,500.00 more to spend per pupil, than school district where nonwhite students are the majority. What's even more troubling is that New Jersey is not alone. This is the case across the United States.
Rebecca Sibilia, the founder and CEO of EdBuild explained, "[w]e have built a school funding system that is reliant on geography, and therefore the school funding system has inherited all of the historical ills of where we have forced and incentivized people to live,"
While some of us are privileged in that we can choose to live in diverse, mixed income neighborhoods, others are unable to afford racially and economically diverse neighborhoods, and others deliberately exclude themselves from diversity.
So how do we fix it? Ms. Sibilia supports larger geographical school districts. She says, "the larger the actual geography of the school districts — the more you can actually balance out the difference between a wealthy white suburb and a less wealthy rural or urban area." While I agree with Ms. Sibilia on this point, I have also seen the effects of school choice on this methodology. Some parents exercise school choice as a way to serve their disabled student or meet specialized needs of their student (e.g. smaller classes). Unfortunately, others exercise school choice as a way to ensure their student is around other students who share their racial and economic background.
It's challenging. There is no easy answer. I hope one day, greater minds will be able to come up with a realistic solution and that we will not be having this same conversation twenty, ten, or even five years from now.