Underfunded Public Schools Leave Behind Poor NYC Students

By @MMichaelsMPN |
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    Justin Tuck addresses students at the NY Giants' Justin Tuck's R.U.S.H for Literacy Kickoff Event at the Central Park East Middle School on Wednesday, September 13th, 2011 in New York. (Matt Peyton/AP Images for Tuck's  R.U.S.H. for Literacy)

    Justin Tuck addresses students at the NY Giants’ Justin Tuck’s R.U.S.H for Literacy Kickoff Event at the Central Park East Middle School on Wednesday, September 13th, 2011 in New York. (Matt Peyton/AP Images for Tuck’s R.U.S.H. for Literacy)

    (MintPress) – “All of this is illegal, it’s against the equal protection clause of the Constitution. People should sue,” said Michael Holzman, a research consultant for the Schott Foundation for Public Education, speaking about underfunding of public schools in New York City.

    Recent statistics show that 80 percent of New York City public school students are lacking basic skills like reading, writing and math required to enter community college, an issue highlighting the vast funding disparity among public schools.

    Talking to Mint Press News, Michael Holzman, author of The Black Poverty Cycle and How to End It said, “There is a systematic process of taking funding from schools serving children most in need and giving it to children from more prosperous families.”

    Officials from City University reported that 79.3 percent of graduates, or 10,700 students who arrived to take a test to get into community college last year, failed and were required to relearn basic skills that should have been taught in high school. This represents an increase from the 71.4 percent who were lacking the skills in 2007.

    Students are required to pay up to $1,000 for courses that bear no college credit and that teach skills high schools should have covered.

    “The basics that I’m receiving now should have been taught in high school,” Feona Wilson, a high school graduate from Brooklyn, told the New York Post. “It’s more money coming out of your pocket.”

    Like many cities in the United States, New York uses property taxes as a primary source of funding for public education. This creates a disparity whereby impoverished neighborhoods with lower property values receive less money to fund public schools.

    The majority of those ill-equipped to enter community colleges come from majority African-American and Latino communities.

    Many parents and educators are blaming Mayor Michael Bloomberg for not addressing this funding disparity during his 11 years in office.

    “He will be remembered as the Mayor of Education Failure, and his final speech ignored that reality. He has harmed our communities and families, and we cannot wait to see a new mayor replace him,” parent Zakiyah Ansari of New Yorkers for Great Public Schools told the New York Daily News.

    Making matters worse is New York’s “specialized high school system” allowing middle school students with higher test scores on standardized exams to attend one of nine prestigious high schools in the city. Statistically, it is virtually impossible for children in lower-income neighborhoods to attend one of these prestigious high schools. “It is considered to be impossible for children taking remedial courses to get into these schools,” Holzman said.

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