There may be some surprises in the latest state-by-state rankings for racial equity in education. There’s a concentration of red states at the top of the 2022 list for most equality, with some traditionally blue states gathered at the bottom.
But before we get to the ranking, compiled by the financial website WalletHub, consider that as educators attempt to rebound from the pandemic, predominantly white districts are receiving $23 billion more per year in funding than systems where non-white children are the majority, according to the Education Trust’s EdBuild project. Property taxes generated by more affluent communities are one of the main drivers of the disparity.
Add to that a persistently segregated education system in which a large majority of students attend schools with students who share the same racial and socioeconomic background. This situation is being perpetuated as small, wealthy communities break away to form their own districts, concentrating financial resources and political clout, according to EdBuild.
Nearly 130 communities have attempted to form their own districts since 2000, and 73 have succeeded, EdBuild found. The upshot is that the average white school district enrolls just 1,500 students, which is half the size of the national average. In stark contrast, nonwhite districts serve more than 10,000 students.
“If pre-COVID educational inequalities are an indication, we may be dealing with COVID-related educational inequalities for a substantial amount of time with lower-income students and students of color being affected the most,” Tiffany D. Joseph, an associate professor of sociology and international affairs at Northeastern University, told WalletHub.
To determine which states have the most racial equality in education, WalletHub compared the difference between the number of white and Black adults with high school and college degrees, and their test scores and graduation rates, among other metrics. For example, Texas, California, New Mexico, Wyoming and West Virginia are tied for the smallest gap between white and Black adults with high school degrees. Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Maine have the biggest divides.
Here’s where WalletHub ranked all 50 states for racial equality in education, from best to worst:
- West Virginia
- New Mexico
- New Hampshire
- North Dakota
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
- New Jersey
- South Carolina
- New York