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Mission Matters - March 2023

Why do White Americans have on average 13 times more wealth than African Americans? There have been government policies since the Civil War that have led to this disparity. Bread for the World has documented some of these policies. Here is their Policy # 8 contributing to the gap.

Minding the Gap: Policy #8 Overturn of “Separate but Equal” Doctrine

Although the “Separate but Equal” Doctrine was declared unconstitutional in 1954 (Brown vs. Board of Education), American schools are more racially segregated today than at any other time in the past four decades. Academic success is less likely in predominately low-income black neighborhoods. Black students are five times as likely to live in an area of concentrated poverty, with underfunded, understaffed, and overcrowded schools. This leaves black students with limited education, and many often settle for minimum-wage jobs that offer little hope of advancement or better pay.

How do school segregation and spending disparities affect the racial hunger, income, and wealth gaps?

In a rapidly changing information-based economy, education is more important than ever to students’ later ability to compete for jobs that will support a family. The failure to end “separate but equal” in practice, rather than only in law, has caused today’s cycle of under-investment in many students of color. Higher school spending is associated with a significantly lower risk of students’ facing hunger and poverty as adults. An increase of 20 percent in annual per-pupil spending for low-income students can lead to a lower risk of hunger and poverty. Every 20 percent spending increase adds to the likelihood that students will complete an additional year of education, earn 25 percent more, and have a 20 percent lower chance of living in poverty as an adult.

Nationally, high-poverty districts spend 15.6 percent less per student than low-poverty districts.

Schools with fewer resources are more likely to be overcrowded, and lower pay may mean difficulty in hiring and retaining the most qualified teachers.

Mending the Gap:

“The Effects of School Spending on Educational and Economic Outcomes: Evidence from

School Finance Reforms.” NBER Working Paper No. 20847 Issued in January 2015. The National Bureau of Economic Research.


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