On average, Indiana spends 12 percent more to educate an African-American student than it does to educate a white student, a left-leaning think tank said Tuesday.
The numbers, crunched by the Center for American Progress, show only three states have greater funding differentials between black and white students than Indiana: New Jersey and Massachusetts spend more on average on African-American students — 17 and 18 percent more respectively. Nebraska spends 17 percent less on average on African-American students.
Conservatives argue perceived differences in funding between racial groups are much less severe when looking at national and regional numbers, and most of the differences come out in the wash after factoring in cost-of-living.
Diana Epstein and Raegan Miller write for the Center of American Progress:
School funding systems certainly don’t set out to create disparities in school funding across racial categories. That would be illegal. But despite a couple of generations of litigation, court action, and legislation, school districts in high-poverty areas are still often funded less generously than districts elsewhere. The problem is that funding for districts still derives substantially from local property taxes, and state-level funding arrangements don’t necessarily level the playing field for high-poverty districts.
Epstein and Miller praised New Jersey and Massachusetts for spending more money on poorer, more diverse districts.
But the Heritage foundation’s Jason Richwine — after arguing that, after cost-of-living adjustments, differentials between whites and blacks on average are no greater than 9 percent — said the funding differential is hard to directly connect to the achievement gap:
That debate aside, it is a mistake to assume that funding increases for public schools can close the achievement gap. Purchasing more educational resources is a popular idea, but rigorous studies on reduced class sizes, graduate degrees for teachers, and enhanced amenities in schools suggest little or no impact on student achievement.