In Seattle, a city booming around knowledge-economy and tech industries, low income children have access to only minimal materials in their school libraries while children in other parts of the district have access funded by parent fund-raisers:
In a survey early this year by Seattle librarians, they found one elementary school in Northwest Seattle that received $2,000 from the district for library materials and raised an additional $11,500, for a total of $25.47 per student. In that school, only 9 percent of students qualify for free- or reduced-price lunches.
Yet a similarly sized elementary in West Seattle, where 83 percent of the students qualify for federal free- or reduced-price lunches, only $2.14 is spent per student for books and other items. An average book in that school’s library is 24 years old, compared with 13 in the Northwest Seattle school
School librarians took this on, even while they could instead have positioned them in the better-resourced schools where their jobs were easier and more fulfilling. Kudos to them.
The New York Times published this excellent graphic representation of dismal correlations between money, race, and success today.
Add your own district, and then perhaps start some conversations about why we continue to accept these sorts of inequalities in childhood.
This looks like another excellent book on class on campus — at least elite campuses. Certainly the contrasts of class are most stark in such places.
And surely, the class dynamics that may be harder to identify a such, that may be just as devastating, that may be interpreted by students as “I’m just not as good as those students who seem like me”- those class dynamics between the children of poor and working class parents and the children of professionals at the hundreds and hundreds of state schools across the country are also worthy of study.
Class not simply the line between the wealthy and the rest of us.
But as for this book, we cannot say things like this enough:
At elite colleges like the one I studied, middle- and upper-income students tend to be understood as typical, while low-income, first-generation students are the exceptions, the outsiders coming in. Echoing what we see in broader popular culture, middle- and upper-income student experiences are presented as common, and the kinds of jobs their parents have are presented as desirable. By contrast, there’s very little discussion of class inequality, or of working-class or low-income lives, except as something to leave behind.
NPR’s Morning Edition launched a really good, three-part (one story a week) series on inequities in school funding this morning. As is the case now with Public “Radio”, the program’s website has excellent graphics, images, and links.
Part One dives into history (yes, Satan is implicated), court challenges to inequitable funding, and cases of districts with very different levels of funding.
We cannot pretend that we have equal opportunity via education with such deep inequities in school quality.
I’ve been teaching some of these things for decades now. Unfortunately, we all have to continue to teach and talk and work against these things.
Yet more on the lure of higher income students in these times of diminished state funding.
“Because the state contributes a smaller and smaller proportion of UW-Madison’s operating budget, the university administration naturally considers alternative ways of raising revenues, and the many wealthy applicants offer a quick, attractive alternative,” the study authors wrote.