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Fattah highlights think-tank report showing fewer dollars spent on students of color

By Dale Mezzacappa on Aug 22, 2012 05:21 PM

A national report released Wednesday showed that far fewer dollars are spent per student in schools with predominantly Black and Latino enrollments, and that staffing those schools with less experienced teachers accounts for much of the spending disparity.

The Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank, along with U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah and the National Council of La Raza, issued the study.

Federal policy allows this disparity to happen by letting districts budget for individual schools by using an average teacher salary for the entire district instead of the actual salaries of teachers in each building, the report said. Overwhelmingly, less-experienced teachers work in schools serving poor students of color compared to schools serving White students. 

The report highlighted that there are considerable differences within districts as well as between high-spending and low-spending districts.

Within most big districts, some schools receive more funds than others, and not because those schools have greater needs, according to the report. Ary Spatig-Amerikaner, the report's author, said that "federal policy is allowing and in fact encouraging districts to shortchange students of color." The so-called "comparable loophole" requires districts to use average rather than actual salaries in calculating spending for federal aid purposes.

By analyzing data that just became available this year, Spatig-Amerikaner found that schools where 90 percent of the students are White spend $733 more per student than schools where 90 percent of the students are of color. She said that 40 percent of this differential is due to disparities within districts rather than disparities between districts.

Given persistent academic achievement gaps among different ethnic groups, and between better-off and low-income students, "It doesn't make any sense to be spending so much less on schools where there is such a high concentration of students of color," she said.

The report says that the United States has the most inequitable system for funding education of any developed country. Fattah has long argued that funding disparities are the biggest cause of eduational inequities and achievement gaps. He has introduced legislation that would change federal policy to close the "comparability loophole."

The study adds to the evidence that "young people of color and poor kids in general are shortchanged by the way we fund schools," said Fattah in a press briefing. 'One thing we shouldn't be doing is having the students who need the most help being provided the least resources."

 

 

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Comments (29)

Submitted by Timothy Boyle on August 22, 2012 8:13 pm

I think (think) this misses the point. Going to student based or weighted funding seems a much more effectual move to take than making schools pay actual salary. Giving schools with higher need more makes more sense than shuffling around veteran teachers.

Giving schools with high staff turnover tools, resources, and support to keep teachers in them is far more constructive than breaking up the staff of school because they have too many vets, in my opinion. 

Submitted by Dale Mezzacappa on August 22, 2012 8:00 pm

Hi Tim,

The report makes the point that these schools should get more teachers -- do the math on a $731 per student difference and that money could pay for many additional teachers -- and other resources to make up the difference in spending. Sorry I didn't go into extensive detail. It doesn't necessarily advocate shuffling more experienced teachers around. 

Submitted by Timothy Boyle on August 24, 2012 1:42 pm

On a somewhat related note, was there any research/results on whether the Out of Balance, Balanced transfer process from the last contract actually improved anything? Or the 5 hard-to-staff middle schools?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2012 6:00 am

Next year, with the SDP closing 40 schools, there will be a lot of "shuffling around." This will continue as more schools are closed. Ideally, a school should have a mix of staff with a range of experience. There are many newer teachers (4 - 6 years), who often "jump" at the chance to leave a neighborhood high school and go to a magnet. The SDP needs to consider how to provide working conditions that keeps a teacher after that 3 year "hump" at a neighborhood school. Climate is key - along with tools/resources purchased by the SDP and not out of a teacher's pocket.

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on August 22, 2012 11:04 pm

Same old, same old--Guess which kids will continue to be marginalized and used as collateral damage.

Submitted by Linda K. (not verified) on August 23, 2012 12:17 am

Add to it the fact that when the resources come, the money goes everywhere but to the supplies and resources for the classroom....as a teacher I still am buying supplies for other peoples children in addtion to paying my taxes

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on August 23, 2012 6:37 am

I read this report with a sparkle in my eye because it highlights an inconvenient truth about the present state of affairs. Last evening I saw a report on Action 6 News about the transition of Grover Cleveland Mastery Charter School.

Mastery and Scott Gordon looked really great as the report of Lisa Thomas-Laury and Jim Gardner touted the "renewal" of Grover Cleveland and the new energy among the parents, administrators and some of the students as they begin school. They have gone out into the community to gain the support of the parents.

The report showed how they have already renovated the building from its dilapidation of last year, replaced the furniture with their mastery blue tables, and modernized the place. They even touted their "new sense of orderliness."

From my visit to Mastery Smedley, I have seen how they have small class sizes and all of the supports necessary to run good schools. This is of course, Great for those children!

But I went to bed last night with a "haunting question" and woke up this morning with that same haunting question haunting me --

Why don't all of our public schools have the same resources for school renewal?

Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on August 23, 2012 7:48 am

Important final question! Phila. Performing Arts Charter was given $2 million to start Edmunds this year. Why didn't Edmunds get the money last year? Mastery received a large School Improvement Grant from Harrisburg for Cleveland this year. Why didn't the State give the money last year? The School Improvement Grants are designed for a narrow view of school renewal and charter operators are aligning their agendas to take them. It is another example of Corbett's / Race to the Top's (Duncan/Obama) privatization model of school "reform."

Here's an important article on the connection between Teach for America (TFA) and corporate funding of privatization. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shaun-johnson/teach-for-america-funding-_b... While there have been many posts about the overt (and over the top) influence of corporate foundations like Gates, Walton (Walmart), Broad, and William Penn (yes, Mastery is Nowak's baby), the "on the ground" facts are being paved every day. How do we "take back" our PUBLIC schools?

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on August 23, 2012 8:28 am

Through exercising our 1st Amendment speech and assembly rights, by exercising our 14th Amendment rights to due process and equal protection of the laws, and of course, the political process.

It is amazing how our forefathers who created the Bill of Rights knew so much about the governance of public education in the 21st century!

Our right to participate in the governance of our public schools emanates from the Bill of Rights. The right to participate in the "process" of public school governance and decision-making is a "due process right" guaranteed to us by the 14th Amendment.

It is time to stand up for the Great ideals which we value as Americans.

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on August 23, 2012 9:43 am

I've been saying this for 3 years now--It's TIME to fight back for God's sake. Too much waiting, complaining and being shocked and not enough action to fight back and stop this corruption.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2012 10:39 am

I don't think we have enough people that understand the magnitude of the situation. We need to get a strong leader to organize us. Unfortunately the majority of the public is against us. They think we are the enemy. How do we fix that perception of us?

Submitted by Geoffrey (not verified) on August 23, 2012 10:33 am

The politicians, including Obama, are also against us.

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on August 23, 2012 1:31 pm

Obama panders to us when necessary only. He has been a big time ZERO towards the folks who elected him.

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on August 23, 2012 10:35 am

One way is to create a multimedia campaign including TV ads like Jerry put out immediately after the Boston Group's privatization plan was announced. The general public does not understand what is going on.

The New Jersey Education Association puts out really good ads promoting public school teachers and criticizing Christie as being nothing more than a servant of the rich.

Another way is to ask both presidential candidates to address the issue over and over and over again.

We do need another Dr. Martin Luther King to emerge. I hear Joe every time he speaks. His words echo in my mind.

I have Hope that Dr. Hite has his heart and mind in the right place. I supported his selection as our leader. I shook hands with him at the last SRC meeting and he warmly smiled back. Will he succumb to the lunacy that will surround him. Or, will he have the courage to stand for equality of education for all and do the right thing for children and their school communities?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2012 11:59 am

Right, Rich;

We also need people to step up and write Op-Ed pieces, send letters to/call their elected officials (or vote them out this November). We need community groups, the PFT and CASA to put out tv/radio ads, hold more rallys and protests (and people actually show up). It's about educating the public, if we only allow them to hear one side, that's the side they will believe.

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on August 23, 2012 1:21 pm

The charter lie cretins are helping us by more and more showing their dirty hands but I agree, WE have not been very proactive, just playing the position of punching bag to these scum bags who don't give a rat's ass about the kids.

Submitted by Anonymous on August 24, 2012 10:40 am

Quite frankly, it's going to take a level of collective strategy - between parents, students, and teachers, that has never been reached before in Philadelphia. And in terms of teachers it has to come from Union leadership, not jut rank and file teachers organizing, amazing though they may be. Every party has to understand the ways that they've been framed in the media and the misperceptions that the other groups have about them. They have to understand the terms of the debate as is stands, and then create a plan to shift those terms, bit by bit. A ton of this will be media strategy, along with grassroots organizing and specific campaigns that are designed to move the needle on the public schools. One of the most glaring deficits we have in Philadelphia is an extremely out of touch PFT leadership which unfortunately continues to pursue the same non-strategy as their membership gets whittled away, our schools get divided up and handed out, parents' heads are spinning in confusion, and students drop out or fight back in isolation. It's impossible to have a conversation about strategy with the PFT leadership without them taking it as evidence that you don't support collective bargaining for teachers. Somehow they cannot understand that the magnitude of the situation requires a serious strategic approach that goes beyond just digging in their heels, throwing out platitudes, and waiting for the storm to blow over. Of course most of the changes in low-performing schools do not impact the majority of long time teachers, who are the most important people to PFT leadership. Parents, as I said are mostly a pawn in this equation there is an unbelievable lack of grassroots leadership there and no commitment to leadership development. There are some amazing parent leaders as individuals but no organization that has set its sights on strategically building a large base of parents. And there is also the danger (which is already playing out) of particular parent leaders being instrumentalized by people in power. The politics of the education arena - in funding, in relationships, in history, is something that the Philadelphia "left" seems not to be able to overcome in any significant way. I sincerely hope this change. If not, we will truly get what we deserve.

Submitted by Anonymous on August 24, 2012 10:51 am

Quite frankly, it's going to take a level of collective strategy - between parents, students, and teachers, that has never been reached before in Philadelphia. And in terms of teachers it has to come from Union leadership, not jut rank and file teachers organizing, amazing though they may be. Every party has to understand the ways that they've been framed in the media and the misperceptions that the other groups have about them. They have to understand the terms of the debate as is stands, and then create a plan to shift those terms, bit by bit. A ton of this will be media strategy, along with grassroots organizing and specific campaigns that are designed to move the needle on the public schools. One of the most glaring deficits we have in Philadelphia is an extremely out of touch PFT leadership which unfortunately continues to pursue the same non-strategy as their membership gets whittled away, our schools get divided up and handed out, parents' heads are spinning in confusion, and students drop out or fight back in isolation. It's impossible to have a conversation about strategy with the PFT leadership without them taking it as evidence that you don't support collective bargaining for teachers. Somehow they cannot understand that the magnitude of the situation requires a serious strategic approach that goes beyond just digging in their heels, throwing out platitudes, and waiting for the storm to blow over. Of course most of the changes in low-performing schools do not impact the majority of long time teachers, who are the most important people to PFT leadership. Parents, as I said are mostly a pawn in this equation there is an unbelievable lack of grassroots leadership there and no commitment to leadership development. There are some amazing parent leaders as individuals but no organization that has set its sights on strategically building a large base of parents. And there is also the danger (which is already playing out) of particular parent leaders being instrumentalized by people in power. The politics of the education arena - in funding, in relationships, in history, is something that the Philadelphia "left" seems not to be able to overcome in any significant way. I sincerely hope this change. If not, we will truly get what we deserve.

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on August 24, 2012 2:08 pm

Of course, you are right and AGAIN, Jerry---where are you?? It's not raining.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2012 10:54 am

I, too, have been waiting for us to begin fighting back, we have abandoned our responsibility to the kids by sitting back and allowing this travesty to happen. This is good 'ole fashioned "Jim Crow" that is taking place. The State is singling out a SPECIFIC group of people (Philadelphia students and teachers) for DIFFERENTIAL treatment, just because of WHO THEY ARE they are and that is a Civil Rights case for the Federal courts.

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on August 23, 2012 1:28 pm

Exactly Right and Corbett doesn't even try to hide it which is arrogance beyond arrogance. AND our side keeps silent. Huh?????

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on August 23, 2012 5:50 pm

Rich--You, OF COURSE, already know that answer. There's no money to be made for the crooked pols and slithering types like Gordon if we all play by the same rules. How about Corbett's brazenness to hand over the Chester Upland Schools to his buddy from West Philly.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2012 1:31 pm

Does this report include the charter that Chaka's son was involved in ?

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on August 23, 2012 1:19 pm

Chaka needs to look at his own first.

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on August 23, 2012 2:07 pm

Jerry Jordan, are you there?? Do you care?? Are you and Randi Weingarten in collusion??

Submitted by tom-104 on August 23, 2012 6:27 pm

Investigate the Teacher Reform Network of the AFT and NEA. I wonder if PFT officals have participated with them.
http://www.turnexchange.net/blog.html

It has given millions to the AFT and NEA in the last few years. It is a Broad front group.

Whenever you hear someone talk about "collaboration" between management and unions, alarm bells should go off!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2012 3:26 pm

The Report says the inexperienced teachers work overwhelming in school with students of color. Does this have something do with the fact that districts like Philadelphia do not treat there staff without respect and pay less than surrounding districts. So experienced teachers leave. In the current Ackerman created chaos teachers will loose seniority and other benefits that are normal in the suburbs so the situation will get worse. Yet the politicians are banking on Charters which pay even less and demand more to attract better teachers. Why would that happen??? Because the better teachers like to work harder for less???

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2012 3:48 pm

typo corrected

The Report says the inexperienced teachers work overwhelming in school with students of color. Does this have something do with the fact that districts like Philadelphia treat the staff without respect and pay less than surrounding districts. So experienced teachers leave. In the current Ackerman created chaos teachers will loose seniority and other benefits that are normal in the suburbs so the situation will get worse. Yet the politicians are banking on Charters which pay even less and demand more to attract better teachers. Why would that happen??? Because the better teachers like to work harder for less???

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on August 23, 2012 6:04 pm

I had some trouble following this but overall, Follow The Money would be the most telling and prudent thing to do. This is all about making money and has nothing to do with helping the kids. As someone pointed out earlier, it's Jim Crow, 2012 and SO FAR, they've been able to get over. Their grab for power and money will hopefully trip them up more and more. Corbett is a stone cold racist as far as I'm concerned. He's willfully separating the have nots from the haves and sending them to prisons down the road. Tell me where I'm wrong and explain why the outcry isn't there !!

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