National Survey Brings Attention To Funding Needed At Inner-City Schools To Help Bridge Achievement Gap; Survey Asks "Are We Still in the Back of the Bus When it Comes to Quality Education for Latinos & African Americans?"

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A new nationwide survey conducted by the New Visions Foundation reveals that funding impacts quality education in lower-economic areas, in particular among Latinos and Africian American communities. However, some 50 percent of those surveyed were either not in agreement or unsure whether African American and Latino students would excel in better funded schools. Confusion? Disconnect? Apathy?

With our nation’s deteriorating educational system rife with overcrowded classrooms, a shortage of qualified teachers, school safety issues and a lack of basic resources due to budget cuts, a new nationwide survey conducted by the New Visions Foundation reveals that a majority of those surveyed (64 percent) agree that the level of funding of schools in inner-city and low-income neighborhoods affect the quality of education those children receive. The survey was conducted with 1,000 randomly selected respondents by market research firm Synovate.

In contrast, 49 percent believe that African American and Latino children in inner-city schools would excel in greater numbers if they attended better funded or private schools. However, 25 percent of the respondents were not in agreement. The other 25 percent are unsure if African American and Latino students would excel if they attended better funded public or private schools. These statistics reveal a perceived disconnect over the role that funding plays in a quality education, according to New Visions Foundation Executive Director Paul Cummins.

“What troubles me is the so-called ‘achievement gap, ’” says Cummins. “ It’s a code word that masks what is really going on in our schools: educational apartheid, as Jonathan Kozol so aptly describes in his latest book, The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America, which addresses the rapid re-segregation of America’s schools.”

“This achievement gap between the have and have-nots has created a growing chasm that is increasing steadily with no end in sight. Take the 48 percent of high schools in the nation’s 100 largest districts, which are those in which the highest concentrations of African American and Latino students tend to be enrolled, where less than half the entering ninth-graders graduate in four years. Nationwide, from 1993 – 2002, the number of high schools graduating less than half their ninth-grade class in four years has increased by 75 percent. By contrast, in the 94 percent of districts in New York State where white children make up the majority, nearly 80 percent of students graduate from high school in four years,” added Cummins.

In well-heeled private schools in Los Angeles County, for example, Cummins said that $23,000 is the average per pupil spent annually. “When you compare that to the $7,000 the LA Unified School District spends per student annually, it’s not surprising that students who receive less than one-third of what is spent in a well-to-do community are not engaged in their less-than-adequate environment and dropping out,” he explained.

“If the late Rosa Parks had walked into today’s inner-city school that looked like a penitentiary because it lacked the basic resources (with a student population that was 99 percent black or brown), would she celebrate how far we’ve come since she took a stand …or reflect how far we have yet to go?” said Cummins.

New Visions Foundation (NVF) has been nationally lauded for its model for school reform and as an “incubator” for developing effective academic and community partnerships. Through a variety of distinctive academic schools and student-centered programs, NVF devises successful educational alternatives for students of all economic and ethnic backgrounds.

Cummins’ great insight into educational issues has been instrumental in implementing new models and innovative solutions that provide quality education for all children. Founded on the belief that academics and an engaging education are the rights of everyone regardless of race, social-economic status, style of learning and disability, Cummins’ approach mixes an unusual combination of academic and intellectual perspective that result in tangible outcomes for children of all ages (K-12). His mantra is simple: At-risk kids need better funded schools. Better funding translates to academic success and a brighter future.

According to the New Visions Foundation survey, more Americans are willing to look at funding and low household income as contributing factors that impact the quality of education vs. believing that race, in general, is a factor in receiving a quality education. Interestingly, while half of those surveyed agree that better funded or private institutions would help more African American and Latino students excel academically, these respondents happen to represent:

  •     Younger adults ages 25-34
  •     Those with higher household incomes($75K+)
  •     Living in the West
  •     Nonwhite
  •     Well-educated (post-grad)

“What this tells me is that the other half who aren’t living, studying or experiencing the reality are either on the fence or not informed. We can address the drop out rate by engaging kids to buy in…and this takes better funding that allows schools to hire more teachers, pay them what they are worth, cut the classroom size in half and give them an environment that will breed success,” said Cummins. “It’s about personal dignity; making sure the basics such as clean bathrooms and comfortable classrooms are de rigueur; building playgrounds and gymnasiums that allow kids to thrive; and creating empowered, well-funded schools in low-income neighborhoods – and that takes money.”

He believes that a national commitment for underprivileged students to experience total engagement in school will require funding that will make a radical difference in their lives: well trained, knowledgeable and passionate teachers; desirable, reasonable teaching conditions; encouraging, warm, caring school environments and rich, diverse curricula. And his personal mission is to spread the word to those with the means to raise the funds. Says Cummins, “Funding matters!”

About New Visions Foundation:

New Visions Foundation, a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization, was established in 1994 to envision and develop innovative educational opportunities for underserved K-12 youth , including model curricula and learning environments.

Media Contacts:

Carla Sameth

Inspiring Minds Communications, 626.564.0163

Shari Nakakura

Inspiring Minds Communications, 509.628.9919

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Shari Nakakura
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