Chronically failing public schools are viewed not only as a deterioration of investment in the common good, but as a tool for intentionally perpetuating patterns of disadvantage along racial lines.
According to a study conducted by researchers from the Economic Policy Institute and Stanford University, poor black children are much more likely to attend high-poverty schools than white children. They found that 81.1 percent of poor black children attended high poverty schools in 2013, compared with just 53.5 percent of poor white children.
The United States as a whole is experiencing a growing divide in educational investments and outcomes based on family income. There is a widening gap between the investments that high- and low-income families make in their children. According to a study by The Hamilton Project, over the past four decades, high-income families have gone from spending slightly more than four times as much as low-income families to nearly seven times more.9 In a study of U.S. Census data, The Brookings Institute found that while the gap in high school completion is closing, black and Latino students are still less likely than their white counterparts to have a high school diploma.
Entrenched patterns of segregation and the stark racial divide embodied by public schools cause a lack of collective willingness on the part of residents to contribute to the greater public good by funding education. Chronically failing public schools are viewed not only as a deterioration of investment in the common good, but as a tool for intentionally perpetuating patterns of disadvantage along racial lines.
Ultimately, the erosion of quality public education is a product of longstanding racial injustices, a cause of ongoing racial and economic inequality, and a force of division in communities.
“When you have schools that are either 98% Caucasian or 98% children of color, ultimately those schools don’t end up getting the same level of resources and those students don’t have the same level of opportunities.”
— White male, 36, Charlotte
“Nobody’s willing to pay taxes…It’s, you know, ‘I’ve got mine. Why, why should I give more to benefit everybody else?’ I think it’s holding the South back, that lack of emphasis on education.”
— White male, 52, Montgomery