HOW CAN FEDERAL AND/OR STATE FISCAL RESOURCES BE BETTER ALLOCATED TO ADVANTAGE THE EDUCATORS OF AFRICAN AMERICAN LEARNERS?
Federal and state fiscal resources can be better allocated to advantage educators of African American learners by focusing on reforms to both funding and equal access to resources. True educational equity will require two control forms. First, there need to be additional resources – not the same resources in order to meet needs of at risk African American students. Second, there should be accountability frameworks to ensure key ingredients to African American students’ success, such as early childhood programs, effective teachers, and rigorous curriculum – are available to African American students respective of their race, zip code, or economic status. African American students in high poverty communities continue to have less access to core academic services that increase student outcomes.
States have the greatest opportunity to guarantee that all African American students under their purview have access to a high quality education, but local, state, and federal governments all play important roles in minimizing inequities in education funding. While students within the same school district can receive starkly different levels of funding, the widest variation in per-pupil spending exists across state boundaries. The difference in average state per pupil spending ranges from $5,700 to $18,000. Evaluating school finance policies based on equity or adequacy is insufficient. The most common framework used does not acknowledge that African American students living in poverty need more from their schools than their more affluent peers.
School funding should provide significant additional resources for African American learners. It costs more to educate low income students and provide them with a robust education. To overcome issues of poverty, low income African American learners need significant additional funds. Research shows that increases in school spending result in greater educational and economic outcomes for all students, but these were more pronounced for children from low income African American families. Additional funding will help to attract highly qualified teachers, improve curriculum, and fund additional programs such as early childhood education.
In closing, additional resources that can be better allocated to advantage educators of African American learners is increase funding for teacher compensation, professional development, and programs designed to reduce the cost of teacher preparation – such as Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Loan Forgiveness Program. These programs should be enhanced for educators’ willingness to teach in high poverty African American schools.
Dr. Rodney Gilmore
(Associate Supt- Hempstead (NY) Union Free School District)