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An excellent report in the Democrat and Chronicle today by Meaghan McDermott exposes the inequality between wealthy, suburban and poor, rural school districts. Wealthy kids get to take endless Advanced Placement and foreign language classes. A poor valedictorian can’t even get into SUNY Geneseo because of a thin transcript.

Rural school districts were hit much harder than their richer counterparts when the state cut school funding, according to a report from the Alliance for Quality Education. The D&C reports relatively poor Brockport lost $2,000 of funding per student while wealthier Pittsford lost $700.

Add in the property tax cap, and the poor districts are squeezed like never before.

Excerpt from article:

“I’m not arguing that we have to be able to offer all that wealthier districts can,” said Mike Ford, superintendent of the Phelps Clifton-Springs Central School District in Ontario County. “But the state can’t allow districts like mine to face the prospect next year of not having kindergarten, or not having electives or having our juniors and seniors going to school a half-day and only getting 22 credits for graduation and that’s all.”

The report did not focus on the Rochester City School District, because it is not funded through property taxes. But poor, urban districts face the same lack of resources. The RCSD doesn’t have librarians in all elementary schools. Some children are not even taking the bare minimum of physical education, art and music.

Should the quality of children’s public education be dependent on where they live?

5 Responses to Wealthy Town = Wealthy Schools

  1. Kozol wrote about this years ago in “savage inequalities” Sad to see not much has changed

  2. December 18, 2011 at 2:53 pm Don Murphy responds:

    In modern America we erect self imposed barriers to limit our own happiness and success. In prior generations if the economic climate suffered in the area you lived, you moved yourself and family to areas with more economic prospects. Farmers from the midwest moving west and east during the Dust bowl and the great African American migration from the south to the northern industrial states in the 50’s and 60’s are two examples. With all the artificial social service “entitlements” we’ve put in place in the past 40 years, there is less incentive to move, resulting in entire populations living marginal government supported lives because it is easier than following prosperity. Instead of communities whose populations ebbed and flowed with prosperity and decline, we are left with centralized populations unable or unwilling to support themselves, resulting in concentrated poverty. If you chose to remain fixed in these populations/locations, you have no one to blame but yourself. To insist that those populations that have chosen to relocate or establish themselves in more prosperous areas to continually pay for the failures of poor community is unfair and counterproductive. What is the old adage..”Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day…” We should stop handing out fish and instead pass out a few fishing poles.

  3. Having AP or foreign language classes don’t mean much when kids are barely passing the Regents classes. Without hope for jobs in the future and being “excess” labor, people don’t try in school and see it as a another way the “system” is stacking the deck against them. And it is. Kids in the city were barely passing the RCT tests when the requirement for Regents classes came in. They didn’t change but the Regents classes and tests did for the worse. Teachers in the city struggle to get the kids to 55 on a state test much less take an AP test. If people see there are jobs available to them and an better life without abject poverty, schools in the city and rural areas will get better. Education allows very few people to leave poverty but if poverty is alleviated through other means (job creation, public investment) education improves significantly for people leaving poverty because hope comes back.

  4. As a retired school counselor in the City school District, I can tell you that almost all of my students of poverty do not understand the competition from their suburban counterparts, and the exceptional and diligent students are almost always below four year college readiness levels. These students are isolated in the city limits, where the cumulative affect of years of isolation have produced struggling students, instead of those ready for AP classes.

    Frankly, I wouldn’t spend a dime on city education in its present form, with exceptional teachers working hard every day, but not able to get to the expected levels for children whose skills are lagging. I would dissolve city school districts and find a whole new paradigm. The students deserve better than what any well intended educator can offer in the present structure and the education needs to start at birth.

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