Sunday, June 15, 2014

The shameful inequality of schooling in the USA

I quote from an article by C.J. Werleman in AlertNet:
New York spends $19,000 per student per year on elementary and secondary education, whereas Tennessee spends less than half that amount ($8,200). States such as Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana each spend less than $3,000 per student. 
“Decentralization was wonderful for the initial diffusion of high schools,” said Lawrence Katz, a professor of economics at Harvard who helped write The Race between Education and Technology, one of the most comprehensive analyses of the spread of the American educational system throughout the 20th century. “But it created big geographic inequality.” 
Among OECD nations, America remains an outlier, one of the few advanced nations where schools serving better-off children are afforded more funding than those serving poor students. Among the 34 OECD nations, only in the United States, Israel and Turkey do disadvantaged schools have lower teacher/student ratios than in those serving more privileged students. 
Andreas Schleicher, who runs the OECD’s international educational assessments, recently told the New York Times: “The bottom line is that the vast majority of O.E.C.D. countries either invest equally into every student or disproportionately more into disadvantaged students. The U.S. is one of the few countries doing the opposite.”
I suggest that children have a right to education, and that right is defined by at least the standard education offered to children in other parts of the country. Of course, cost of living is higher in cities than rural areas, in some states than others, but a difference so that school budgets should be higher where cost of living is higher. But $19,000 to $3,000 is obscene.

Americans like to think that this is a country with opportunity for all. Do you really think a poor black kid in Arkansas, Mississippi or Louisiana has equal opportunity to a kid in New York (with its great magnet schools for kids that show special promise in the early grades)?

A brain is a terrible thing to waste! The United States wastes millions of brains by denying kids their rights to a quality basic education. In future years it will surely pay the price of that waste. Good luck to the people who plan to retire after 2030. 

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