How far is your state from reaching racial equality in education?

Consider that predominantly white districts receive $23 billion more per year in funding, mostly due to property taxes

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.

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“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:

  1. Wyoming
  2. West Virginia
  3. New Mexico
  4. Idaho
  5. Montana
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Texas
  8. Arizona
  9. Kentucky
  10. Tennessee
  11. Hawaii
  12. Delaware
  13. Arkansas
  14. Maine
  15. New Hampshire
  16. Georgia
  17. North Dakota
  18. Vermont
  19. Alabama
  20. Mississippi
  21. Nevada
  22. Alaska
  23. Washington
  24. Oregon
  25.  North Carolina
  26. Indiana
  27. Rhode Island
  28. Florida
  29. Missouri
  30. California
  31. South Dakota
  32. Kansas
  33. Maryland
  34. Louisiana
  35. Virginia
  36. Michigan
  37. Colorado
  38. Ohio
  39. Utah
  40. Nebraska
  41. New Jersey
  42. Illinois
  43. Iowa
  44. Pennsylvania
  45. South Carolina
  46. Massachusetts
  47. New York
  48. Connecticut
  49. Minnesota
  50. Wisconsin
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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