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U.S. Civil Rights Commission Outlines Racial Inequalities in American Public Education

The report includes a list of recommendations for fixing the dismal gap in education funding.

On Thursday, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights released a 150-page report entitled “Public Education Funding Inequity: In An Era Of Increasing Concentration Of Poverty and Resegregation,” in which the agency declares that the American education system is ‘profoundly unequal’ for minorities and students living in poverty. The report is based on a lengthy investigation of education funding across the United States that uncovered myriad ways schools aren’t provided the resources they need to help students succeed.

“This report excavates the enduring truism that American public schooling is, and has been, profoundly unequal in the opportunity delivered to students, the dollars spent to educate students, and the determinations of which students are educated together,” said Catherine Lhamon, the commission’s chair, in a written statement.

According to the report, the source of the problem stems from the fact that a disturbing number of schools in America remain segregated by race or class, which inevitably leads to poorer schools being underfunded. As a result, these schools are unable to afford quality teachers, sufficient coursework, and even basic supplies. As a result of this lack of resources, students are far less likely to receive a quality education.

While the majority of the report examines the state of modern education in the United States, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights does offer a list of recommendations to help remedy a number of the problems. The independent, bipartisan agency suggests that the government “incentivize states to adopt equitable public school finance systems” and “increase federal funding to supplement state funding with a goal to provide meaningful, educational opportunity on an equitable basis.”

The list also advocates for more transparency and urges the government to better collect and evaluate data on school spending. Perhaps most ambitiously, the report recommends that “Congress should make clear that there is a federal right to a public education.”

Unsurprisingly, the report received some major pushback, primarily from commission member Peter Kirsanow who wrote a passionate dissent. In it, Kirsanow criticizes the commission for wanting to throw money at all of America’s education problems. Instead, he argues that “the deleterious consequences of single-parent families” are doing far more damage to students than lack of funding at school.