Within school districts, some high schools get a lot more money than others, write Marguerite Roza and Paul Hill in the Christian Science Monitor. It’s usually a case of the rich getting richer. Principals in well-funded schools are skilled at getting central district resources and high-paid senior teachers gravitate to their schools, leaving inexperienced, low-scale teachers in the poorly funded schools.
So, the real problem is not that New York City spends some $4,000 less per pupil than Westchester County, but that some schools in New York spend $10,000 more per pupil than others in the same city.
And these spending disparities aren’t particularly strategic. Certainly, some pots of money are intended for poor kids, but lots of others tip the scales toward more advantaged schools.
Money for centrally controlled services (teachers who move among schools delivering specialized services, bilingual specialists, health providers) is spent virtually willy-nilly, depending on downtown administrators’ habits and professional contacts. Funds for these purposes are not accounted for on a per-day or per-school basis. Consequently nobody – not principals and surely not superintendents and school board members – knows how these funds are distributed.
The most important input, teacher salaries, is distributed perversely, as senior teachers take advantage of their placement rights to cluster in the nicer neighborhoods, leaving schools in impoverished neighborhoods with less-qualified teachers who have no choice about where they work.
The New York court order, which requires an extra $5.6 billion in spending, won’t change the hidden inequities, they write.
Teachers will still prefer working in wealthier schools. The newest and least qualified teachers still will be left in the toughest schools, just as the students in those schools will be left with them.
The real drivers of inequity are hidden, and the people who most benefit from them – middle-class parents in nicer neighborhoods, senior teachers, and the union that works in their interest – benefit from keeping them off the table.
As Eduwonk says, this is important.
Oakland gives each school the same per-student funding, and lets schools that can attract only new teachers spend the salary savings on other needs, notes National Council on Teacher Quality Bulletin. The bulletin also reports on a study of teacher turnover in very poor schools.
The Illinois chapter of ACORN, a community organization serving low- and moderate-income families, has come out with a report that provides useful quantitative evidence of just how bad retention rates can be in the highest poor and minority schools. In 64 schools in Chicago, this report found a teacher turnover rate of 25 percent — well above the national average — but also a staggering 39 percent turnover rate for these schools’ first-year teachers.
In their first two years in the classroom, teachers are significantly less effective than they’ll be with more experience; this kind of churn rate takes a high toll.