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Michigan students of color are likely to attend schools with the highest poverty rates


Students of color in Michigan are more likely to be enrolled in public schools with the highest concentrations of poverty, 70 years after the U.S. Supreme Court issued the landmark ruling Brown vs. Board of Education This is evident from a new report released on Wednesday.

The Education Trust-Midwest, a nonpartisan education advocacy group, released a new set of findings, “Brown’s Hope: Fulfilling the Promise in Michigan,” in its 2024 State of Michigan Education Report, ahead of Saturday’s 70th anniversary of the ruling. court. A landmark decision that marked the end of legalized racial segregation in schools.

Among the findings in the report:

∎ Nearly half of all Michigan students of color and two-thirds of all Black students attend school in districts with high concentrations of poverty – where 73% or more of students are economically disadvantaged – compared to 13% of white students in the same districts .

∎ Michigan students in districts with the highest concentrations of poverty are also less likely to be in classrooms with highly experienced teachers, who on average are more likely to be effective, the report found.

Officials said school-age children across the state have lost about half a grade or more in math and reading since the pandemic began, and in school districts that serve predominantly Black and Latino students and students from low-income backgrounds, such as Kalamazoo . and Lansing, learning losses were dramatically worse.

At the current pace of educational recovery, most students would need another five years to catch up on math knowledge, the report says, and in reading, most students would need decades to reach grade-level reading.

The publication of the report coincides with a new campaign called Opportunity for everyone by education leaders across Michigan to raise awareness of the needs of Black, Latino/a and low-income students and increase their resources and support, including for post-COVID learning loss.

Alice Thompson, chair of the education committee for the Detroit branch of the NAACP and chair of the statewide coalition, Michigan Partnership for Equity and Opportunity, issued a call to action for state leaders to invest in these students, who she says have been neglected already decades.

“This new campaign provides hope and direction for change – and delivers new data to empower local parents and advocates to work together to advance an agenda of investment and pandemic recovery for Michigan’s children,” said Thompson .

The Michigan Legislature adopted a new education funding structure called the Opportunity Index in 2023 to address long-standing inequities, but has not allocated dollars to fully fund the new formula, officials say.

According to a new analysis in the Education Trust-Midwest report, the regions of Michigan that will benefit most from the Opportunity Index funding formula are, in respective order, cities and suburbs, mid-sized and small cities, rural areas, and finally major urban areas. The index invests in districts based on their level of poverty concentration.

Amber Arellano, executive director of the Education Trust and chair of the state coalition, said that for decades Michigan lacked a mechanism to address the legacy of racial and socioeconomic segregation in the state’s public schools.

“Today we do – and we have a responsibility to use it,” Arellano said. “This month, state lawmakers can do just that by making an equitable investment in the state’s new Opportunity Index, a historic new funding change that became law in 2023.”

The new campaign includes a website that compares how much more a local school district would receive if the state invested in students from low-income backgrounds at the same level as Massachusetts, the nation’s largest education state, ETM officials say.

“This month, state lawmakers will decide what to prioritize in the state budget,” Arellano said. “Michigan underfunds low-income students by at least $2 billion annually. By comparison, Massachusetts is currently on track to invest at least $3.3 billion annually in low-income students. Money is important, especially for low-income students.”

Mike Jandernoa, a Western Michigan business leader and chairman of the equity partnership, says there is an urgent need to invest in the state’s schoolchildren.

“For the future of Michigan’s children and the health of our state, state leaders must invest now in long-underserved students to address this long-standing inequity,” Jandernoa said. “We must create systems of fiscal transparency and accountability to ensure that the dollars intended for students with the greatest needs actually reach them in their schools.”

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