The current school funding system reinforces and divides schools district boundaries between rich and the poor. Keeping resources in wealthy communities while making it very difficult for low-income students to keep from accessing broad opportunities. This past June, the Supreme Court decided Texas v. Inclusive Communities Project, affirming that no government policy may create “artificial, arbitrary or unnecessary barriers” for minority individuals and families seeking quality housing in a good neighborhood. Yet barriers are created by the delineation of schools district boundaries. Where a student goes to school in the United States is still primarily determined by where their family lives. The current system ties school budgets to to the value of local property wealth and incentivizes boundaries between upper and lower income communities. This concentrates education funding within affluent schools and keeps low-income students from opportunities and upward socio-economic mobility.
An interactive map put together by EdBuild shows Census Bureau poverty rates in each of the nations 14,000 school districts. This is the first time a study has produced a visual of poverty in relation to schools districts. The map, shows concentrations of poverty along the Mississippi River in the Deep South and also stark disparities between affluent and the poor districts. Researchers see this map as a wakeup call that gerrymandering is as much a problem kids in public schools as it is for voters. In the case of education, boundaries are drawn to contain poor families rather than favor a certain political party.
The No Child Left Behind Act, that expired in 2007 may be on its way to becoming fully defunct. The Senate recently debated its Every Child Achieves Act, an updated No Child Left Behind rewrite. The House of Representatives is doing the same with their version called the Student Success Act. It’s unclear what the final bill will look like exactly, but civil rights groups, politicians and teachers agree it’s time for an update. The new bill will maintain an emphasis on standardized testing while giving more control to states’ education policy. A criticism of these new bills in their current state is that they lack accountability measures.