Education Dean’s latest article focuses on school funding policy and civil rights

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LEXINGTON, Kentucky (July 8, 2022) — A recently published analysis of how dollars are distributed to schools in the United States posits that funding allocation models continue to disadvantage people in low-income communities, despite longstanding evidence that equitable funding is critical to students’ ability to learn and achieve.

The article, authored by Dean of the University of Kentucky College of Education, Julian Vasquez Heilig, Ph.D., and Davíd G. Martínez, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of South Carolina , appears in the latest issue of the Minnesota Journal of Law and Inequality.

Due to the reliance on local property values ​​to fund schools, property-poor districts cannot raise or equalize school revenues at the level of wealthier districts. This poverty is unequally distributed between racial and ethnic origins. Recent peer-reviewed research has shown that in gentrified urban communities, as the proportional intensity of white students increases in schools, the resulting resources and demands on schools also increase, the authors write.

“Education is a human right and a civil right, but our school funding policies don’t treat it as such,” Martínez said. “Access to quality education is necessary for communities to thrive. When there are large educational disparities between communities, it impacts everyone. This is clearly true whether these educational disparities are based on community wealth, or on race and ethnicity. Policy makers need to do more to understand the history of school finance disparity in their community and take steps to improve its impact.

Martínez and Vasquez Heilig argue in their analysis that despite countless attempts to reform school funding policy, the United States has consistently failed to improve inequality and injustice in school funding. Without creating a more equitable system, solving the problems of marginalized students will continue to be difficult.

“We have reviewed numerous studies showing that funding increases have led to greater academic achievement for marginalized students. For example, when more resources were invested in LatinX-majority urban schools, reading and math scores increased,” Vasquez Heilig said. “Put simply, money matters and investing in education early and often matters in a student’s daily life.”

The authors suggest that federal policymakers adopt a framework known as the opportunity to learn that would establish a set of minimum standards for equitable learning in American schools. These standards would include well-trained and certified teachers and administrators, timely curricula and texts, up-to-date facilities and comprehensive services to support neuro-divergent learners and health, nutrition, housing and family well-being. students.. As a civil right, the authors argue for comprehensive and differentiated levels of service for each student and funding to enable the provision of these services.

Once these learning standards are established, it would allow state policy makers to raise revenues to appropriate levels of fiscal support to meet the standards. The authors say this model is a departure from previous models of school reform and funding that focused on test scores and the need to improve student outcomes. Instead, they support a model where success is determined by how well decision-makers support access to and availability of high-quality education in every community, promoting alternatives to the historical disparity in resources that has oppressed BIPOC students and families.

“Ultimately, as a civil right, we must support students through the P-20 pipeline, which includes high school completion and later life earnings, with the ultimate goal of alleviating poverty among adults,” Vasquez Heilig said.

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