Enhancement Ministries, Inc.

A word about educational equity:
This post draws heavily from Reed Jordan’s (Urban Institute) recent full-length feature on income and race in public schools.

Decades of public policy and private action have systematically excluded people of color—especially black people—from good neighborhoods, jobs, and wealth-building opportunities. Among the many consequences for children of color is that they disproportionately attend high-poverty public schools (schools where more than 75 percent of students come from low-income families).  

Nationally, about 30 percent of white students attend low-poverty schools, while only 8 percent of these students attend high-poverty schools. In other words, white students are about four times more likely to attend low-poverty schools than “high-poverty schools.”

The pattern is flipped for black students, for whom attending high-poverty schools are commonplace. Over 45 percent of black students (about 3.4 million) attend high-poverty schools, and only about 7 percent of black students attend low-poverty schools. 

Separate and Unequal
In some metropolitan areas, the racial concentration of school poverty is so severe that black and white students effectively attend two different school systems: one for middle- and upper-middle-income white students, and the other for poor students and students of color.

This is certainly true in Chicago (Cook County), where 75 percent of black students attend high-poverty schools compared with less than 10 percent of white students. The same dual system exists for the 75 percent of black students (40,000) in Milwaukee who attend high-poverty schools compared with 10 percent of their white peers. In fact, racial inequity is a defining feature of almost all midwestern and northeastern metropolitan school systems.

Why should we care? Because high-poverty schools tend to lack the educational resources—like highly qualified and experienced teachers, low student-teacher ratios, college prerequisite and advanced placement courses, and extracurricular activities—available in low-poverty schools.

These inequitable educational offerings are compounded by the toll of poverty itself on the physical and psychological development of children. As a result, high-poverty schools are tasked with a tremendous load and are often unable to provide either the quality of education or the additional resources and supports needed to help students in low-income families succeed. This is a concentrated disadvantage: the children who need the most are concentrated in schools least likely to have the resources to meet those needs.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigators found that from the 2000-2001 to the 2013-2014 school year, both the percentage of K-12 public schools in high-poverty and the percentage comprised of mostly African-American or Hispanic students grew significantly, more than doubling, from 7,009 schools to 15,089 schools. The percentage of all schools with so-called racial or socio-economic isolation (isolated schools) grew from 9% to 16%.

Education inequity is a complex, deeply-felt issue in our country. Tied up with questions of class, race, and geography, it is also an issue where the voice of the church must speak out for justice, hope, and equal opportunity. We trust in the church’s power to bring a perspective grounded in God’s love; and God’s dream of justice for all children to receive an equal opportunity education (Lallie Lloyd, Executive Director, the All Our Children Network (AOC)).

Next Steps:
We commit to continue building a core team to gain a place at the table and to advocate for change.  We need our team to grow deeper in terms of our knowledge and understanding of the issues and determine a strategic approach to bring the change we want to see. Through this deeper learning, we will gain a clearer understanding of how trauma has impacted generation after generation of families. We have 
the opportunity to build in at least two primary ways  with three existing partnerships

  • Education ministry at Trinity Cathedral supports the idea.

  • Education ministry at local United Methodist Churches
  • All our Children National Network, an educational equity network sponsored by the Episcopal Church.

EMI works for all students to feel supported as they learn, succeed and in safety.

Enhancement Ministries, Inc.

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