As policymakers and school districts gear up to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act, the nation's new major federal education law, parents of color are worried about the lack of funding for their schools.
A new survey out from The Leadership Conference Education Fund -- the education and research branch for the civil rights coalition The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights -- takes a look at the opinions and concerns of parents of color who have kids in school.
Researchers behind the survey contend that while students of color now constitute a majority of kids in public schools, their opinions are rarely represented. The survey -- which sought responses from a sample of 400 African-American and 400 Latino parents -- was designed to gain a greater understanding of what these families want out of the public school system.
Surveyed parents, who spanned a range of incomes, see that their children often receive the short end of the stick when it comes to school resources. Over 80 percent of African-American parents and over 60 percent of Latino parents said that they don't think schools in their communities receive the same levels of funding as schools in white communities.
Similarly, an overwhelming number of parents from both groups said they think schools in low-income communities have fewer resources than schools in wealthy communities. Indeed, 14 states have school funding formulas that provide less funding to school districts with the poorest students, according to a March report from the Education Law Center.
In general, most surveyed black parents said they do not think kids from their communities are receiving a comparable education to the one white students receive, even though they have generally favorable opinions of the individual schools their children attend. Latinos were more optimistic about the education their community members receive, unless their kid goes to a mostly low-income school.
Respondents who expressed seeing racial inequities in schools said they blame schools' lack of resources and lower teacher quality. A recent report from the Center for American Progress found that poor students and students of color were more likely to have less effective teachers.
Some respondents in the new study -- especially African-American parents -- said they think their kids are victims of racism and racial bias. While a majority of African-American and Latino parents said they think schools are trying their best to help students, a third of Black respondents and a quarter of Latino respondents said they don't even think schools in the U.S. are really trying to educate kids from their communities.
Regardless, these parents -- who the survey refers to as "new majority parents" -- believe their children are not held to high enough standards, and should be challenged more. They ranked school safety, high-quality teachers and academic rigor as the most important characteristics in great schools.
Wade Henderson, president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said his organization commissioned the poll to jump-start a conversation "about education policy, one that’s inclusive of communities of color."
"I know firsthand how elusive the effort to provide quality education has been, particularly for communities of color," Henderson said on a call with reporters. "Concentrated poverty, race and systemic discrimination, sometimes unconscious bias, come into play and affect the allocation of resources, both financial and personnel."