I grew up in Suffolk County on Long Island in the 1970s and 1980s. For most of my K-12 education I attended a small, well funded, mostly White school district. School district budgets are connected to property taxes which has a racist history of its own. A result of that connection is that public schools are segregated and unequal.
As a former educator, I want to give back to the place where I’m from. But not to my school district–they’re doing fine. I want to extend support to other school districts in Suffolk County that have a high percentage of Black and Brown students and less per-pupil funding.
I started by looking at the data. Below is a small but illustrative sample from 5 of the 64 school districts in Suffolk County. In it you’ll see the correlation of racial segregation and unfair resource allocation.
I still have more work to do on this data gathering and analysis and I’ll share my complete spreadsheet when it’s done (the composition of very small school districts, for example, is chock full of inequality). For now I’ll share my sources and encourage you to do your own research on the school district where you live now or on the district that you attended as a kid.
For New York State per-pupil spending, I pulled data from here:
EMPIRE CENTER 2017-18 School Budget
Here it is in a spread sheet thanks to my friend Mark Zifchock:
NYS School Spending Spreadsheet
For demographic data, I originally pulled data from here: data.nysed.gov
and am now cross referencing it with data from here:
Finally, I found this this interactive data visualization that illustrates segregation in schools across the US here: ED Build
If you do your own research in another part of the state or another state entirely, I hope you’ll share it.
So what do we do with all of this information? I’ll share how I move through it. For me, as a former educator, my first step is to reach out to people who are already doing this work on the ground in Nonprofit Organizations. In Suffolk County I found an org called Erase Racism that works on education and housing issues. I’ll offer my support as an educator/mentor. In the era of online or on-the-phone teaching and learning, connecting students with volunteer educators/mentors might be easier than ever (although vetting volunteers might be hard). I’ll report back when I find out more.
Other ways to help might be to donate money or fundraise for organizations that address school segregation in their communities. Another way to help is to follow school segregation issues in local political races and support candidates that aim to change it. Nonprofit Organizations will likely have the best information on that as well.