New Data Exposes the Staggering Gap Between Rich and Poor Schools

There are huge gaps in access to AP classes and resources between schools in rich neighborhoods and those in poor ones.

If you follow education at all you don't need a database to tell you that there are huge gaps in access to AP classes and resources between students attending schools in rich neighborhoods and those in poor neighborhoods. But sometimes we need a kick in the pants to remind us exactly how deep and wide the disparities really are. Indeed, that's exactly what the Civil Rights Data Collection, a new data tool from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, gives us.

The office surveyed 72,000 schools in 7,000 school districts with more than 3,000 students and found:

"3,000 schools serving nearly 500,000 high school students offer no algebra 2 classes, and more than 2 million students in about 7,300 schools had no access to calculus classes.

Only 2 percent of the students with disabilities are taking at least one Advanced Placement class.

Students with limited English proficiency make up 6 percent of the high school population (in grades 9-12), but are 15 percent of the students for whom algebra is the highest-level math course taken by the final year of their high school career."


Those are some pretty staggering stats that would certainly make anybody curious about how their local schools are doing. ProPublica partnered with the DOE and made a searchable database that lets users find out what's happening with an individual school, or with schools located around a particular address or zip code. Interestingly, the most shared school, as of this writing—Mira Costa High in Manhattan Beach, California—is one that is actually in pretty good shape.

With its multi-million dollar homes, Manhattan Beach is one of the priciest places to live in the United States—only 4 percent of Mira Costa High's students come from low-income backgrounds. But, the tool lets you compare schools, so since I taught in Compton, CA, I decided to see how Mira Costa measures up to Compton High, which is only 10 miles away:

The numbers tell us what we might expect: Wealthy students attending school at Mira Loma are taking more AP courses and math courses than the lower income students at Compton High, and that's despite having almost the same student body size and the exact same percentage of inexperienced teachers—educators in their first or second year in the classroom.

While teacher quality and effectiveness do matter, this snapshot of these two schools certainly backs up those researchers who predict that poverty is going to be the next education reform frontier. As for what the DOE plans to do with the data, that remains to be seen. But given that 20 percent of American schoolchildren live in poverty, let's hope that this starts a national conversation about the role it plays in education.

photo via Wikimedia Commons

via Douglas Muth / Flickr

Sin City is doing something good for its less fortunate citizens as well as those who've broken the law this month. The city of Las Vegas, Nevada will drop any parking ticket fines for those who make a donation to a local food bank.

A parking ticket can cost up to $100 in Las Vegas but the whole thing can be forgiven by bringing in non-perishable food items of equal or greater value to the Parking Services Offices at 500 S. Main Street through December 16.

The program is designed to help the less fortunate during the holidays.

Keep Reading Show less

For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Keep Reading Show less
via / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by HAL9001 on Unsplash

The U.K. is trying to reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, but aviation may become the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.K. by that same year. A new study commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and conducted at the Imperial College London says that in order for the U.K. to reach its target, aviation can only see a 25% increase, and they've got a very specific recommendation on how to fix it: Curb frequent flyer programs.

Currently, air travel accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, however that number is projected to increase for several reasons. There's a growing demand for air travel, yet it's harder to decarbonize aviation. Electric cars are becoming more common. Electric planes, not so much. If things keep on going the way they are, flights in the U.K. should increase by 50%.

Nearly every airline in the world has a frequent flyer program. The programs offer perks, including free flights, if customers get a certain amount of points. According to the study, 70% of all flights from the U.K. are taken by 15% of the population, with many people taking additional (and arguably unnecessary) flights to "maintain their privileged traveler status."

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet