Baylor University study: Unresponsive state policymakers make the racial achievement gap worse

9 Jul

Moi wrote in the article, Education funding lawsuits against states on the rise:
Moi has often said in posts at the blog that the next great civil rights struggle will involve access for ALL children to a good basic education. Sabra Bireda has written a report from the Center for American Progress, Funding Education Equitably

The old axiom that the rich get richer certainly plays out in the American classroom—often to the detriment of achieving academic success. Data on intradistrict funding inequities in many large school districts confirm what most would guess—high-poverty schools actually receive less money per pupil than more affluent schools.1 These funding inequities have real repercussions for the quality of education offered at high-poverty schools and a district’s ability to overcome the achievement gap between groups of students defined by family income or ethnicity.
The source of these funding inequities is not a deliberate scheme designed to steer more state and local funds to affluent schools. Rather it is often the result of an accumulation of higher-paid, more senior teachers working in low-poverty schools. High-poverty schools typically employ less-experienced, lower-paid teachers, thereby drawing down less of the district’s funds. The imbalance in funding created by this situation can total hundreds of thousands of dollars school by school.2 Archaic budgeting practices that track positions instead of actual school expenditures only serve to reinforce this inequity.
Aside from concerns about the inequitable distribution of veteran and novice teachers across schools, students attending high-poverty schools actually need more funding to achieve at the level of their wealthier counterparts.3 The federal government recognizes this fact with its allocation of federal funds under Title
I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA. One condition of receiving Title I funds is that districts allocate state and local funds equitably to non-Title I and Title I schools before spending federal monies. The “comparability” provision was implemented to ensure that schools spend Title I funds on services meant to enhance educational opportunities for students at high-poverty schools and not to make up for unfair shares of state and local resources stemming from conventional management and budgeting practices.
The comparability provision should be a strong tool to correct the funding disparities created by an inequitable distribution of higher- and lower-paid teachers. But for years, districts have been able to evade true comparability between schools due to a loophole in the law. The loophole allows districts to demonstrate compliance without comparing the amount of actual dollars spent at each school. Instead, districts can show comparability by placing equal numbers of teachers, on a per pupil basis, at high- and low-poverty schools.
If a district does compare per-pupil expenditures, for example, the district can use a district-average teacher salary in calculations in place of actual salaries in school budgets. This common budgeting practice masks significant funding inequities. Under the current provision, districts can continue to receive Title I money even as their most high-poverty schools are deprived of fair shares of local and state funds.

The issues brought out by Bireda’s report are just one of a host of reasons why there must be equitable education funding. https://drwilda.com/2012/01/25/education-funding-lawsuits-against-states-on-the-rise/
Julia Lawrence writes in the Education News article, Study: Race Plays Role in Political Response to Falling Grad Rates:

Analysis by Dr. Patrick Flavin of Baylor University and Michael Hartney of the University of Notre Dame concludes that state education authorities and policymakers tend to be more responsive to falling graduation rates among white students and less so to falling African-American graduation rates. As Ronald Roach of Diverse Issues in Higher Education reports, the authors find that a fall in the percentage of white students who earn a high school diploma draws increased attention to instructional quality compared to when African-American graduation rates decline.
After examining the reasons for the disparity, Flavin, who is an assistant professor of political science, and Hartney who is a political science Ph.D. candidate, conclude that the persistent achievement gap between white and African-American students stems from political rather than economic reasons.
http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/study-race-plays-role-in-political-response-to-falling-grad-rates/#sthash.fi4zigTa.dpuf

Here is the press release from Baylor University about The Political Foundations of the Black–White Education Achievement Gap:

Black-white Education Achievement Gap Is Worsened by Unresponsive State Policymakers, Baylor Study Shows

June 19, 2013
Follow us on Twitter:@BaylorUMediaCom
Contact: Terry Goodrich,(254) 710-3321
WACO, Texas (June 20, 2013) — State policymakers’ attention to teacher quality — an issue education research shows is essential to improving schooling outcomes for racial minority students — is highly responsive to low graduation rates among white students, but not to low graduation rates among black students, according to a Baylor University study.
The findings are evidence that “the persisting achievement gap between white and black students has distinctively political foundations,” the researchers wrote.
The article, entitled “The Politic Foundations of the Black-White Education Achievement Gap,” is published in the journal American Politics Research. It is co-authored by Patrick Flavin, Ph.D., an assistant professor of political science in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, and Michael Hartney, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Notre Dame.
The findings come nearly 60 years after Brown vs. the Board of Education, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case aimed at promoting educational equality by declaring unconstitutional state laws that established separate public schools for black and white students.
But the researchers’ findings show that inequality persists when it comes to education reform. “Instead of promoting equality of opportunity, America’s system of K-12 education — which relies heavily on state and local control — may worsen political inequalities,” the researchers wrote.
Surprisingly, even in states in which policymakers were more racially balanced, legislators were less responsive about closing the education gap, Flavin said.
“You might expect that in states that have more black students, government would be more attentive, but we didn’t find that,” Flavin said. “Whether analyzed at the policymaking level or the level of individual citizens’ political attitudes, white students receive far more attention and subsequent response compared to African-American students.”
He suggested a reason why black policymakers might be less responsive about working toward teacher quality than might be expected.
For the research, racial disparities in student outcomes were measured using National Assessment of Education Progress scores as well as high school graduation rates. While there was a period of dramatic improvement after the Brown v. Board decision up until early 1990s, the gap between the two racial groups has stagnated or even slightly increased since the early 1990s, according to the study.
To analyze state policymaking, the researchers measured 12 state-level reform policies tracked by the National Council on Teacher Quality. Those policies include such actions as paying teachers more for teaching in high-poverty schools (so-called “combat pay”) and tying teacher pay to student achievement.
To analyze citizens’ opinions on education, Flavin and Hartney used a variety of nationally representative public opinion polls and found that white citizens “only seem to be alarmed when white students’ performance drops,” Flavin said.
Whites are less likely to think an education gap exists or to see it as a priority compared to blacks. Whites also are less likely to think that the government has a responsibility to close a gap, the researchers found.
“It’s when white students are doing poorly that you start seeing state legislators pass more controversial bills like linking teacher pay and evaluations to student test scores,” Flavin said.
The study concludes by noting that the most recent and widespread efforts to address educational inequality have come not from state policymakers but rather from federal ones.
Those included the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act, which required states to document and report student test score data by racial and ethnic subgroups; and more recently, the “Race to the Top,” a competitive grant program that makes willingness to decrease achievement gaps, particularly to increase minority students’ access to highly effective teachers, a key factor for states to be awarded federal money.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.
ABOUT BAYLOR COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES
The College of Arts & Sciences is Baylor University’s oldest and largest academic division, consisting of 26 academic departments and 13 academic centers and institutes. The more than 5,000 courses taught in the College span topics from art and theatre to religion, philosophy, sociology and the natural sciences. Faculty conduct research around the world, and research on the undergraduate and graduate level is prevalent throughout all disciplines.

Citation:

The Political Foundations of the Black–White Education Achievement Gap
1.Michael T. Hartney, PhD Candidate mhartney@nd.edu
2.Patrick Flavin
Abstract
More than 50 years after Brown v. Board, African American students continue to trail their White peers on a variety of important educational indicators. In this article, we investigate the political foundations of the racial “achievement gap” in American education. Using variation in high school graduation rates across the states, we first assess whether state policymakers are attentive to the educational needs of struggling African American students. We find evidence that state policymaking attention to teacher quality—an issue education research shows is essential to improving schooling outcomes for racial minority students—is highly responsive to low graduation rates among White students, but bears no relationship to low graduation rates among African American students. We then probe a possible mechanism behind this unequal responsiveness by examining the factors that motivate White public opinion about education reform and find racial influences there as well. Taken together, we uncover evidence that the persisting achievement gap between White and African American students has distinctively political foundations.
Published online before print May 6, 2013, doi: 10.1177/1532673X13482967 American Politics Research May 6, 2013 1532673X13482967
1.» AbstractFree
2.Full Text (PDF)
Often, schools are segregated by both race and class. Class identification is very important in education because of class and peer support for education achievement and the value placed on education by social class groups.

Related:
The role economic class plays in college success                                             https://drwilda.com/2012/12/22/the-role-economic-class-plays-in-college-success/
The ‘school-to-prison pipeline’    https://drwilda.com/2012/11/27/the-school-to-prison-pipeline/
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One Response to “Baylor University study: Unresponsive state policymakers make the racial achievement gap worse”

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  1. California addresses school funding inequity | drwilda - August 22, 2013

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