In many ethnically diverse school districts across the country, teachers in schools that serve the highest concentration of African-American and Latino students are paid significantly less—approximately $2,500 per year—than the average teacher in such districts, according to an analysis by the U.S. Department of Education’s office for civil rights.
The department crunched data from some 2,200 districts in which more than 20 percent, but fewer than 80 percent, of enrolled students are African-American or Latino. It then compared the salaries of teachers in schools with the top quintile of enrolled black and Latino students with the average teacher salary in the district.
Fifty-nine percent of the districts studied showed significant spending disparities.
“America has been battling inequity in education for decades, but these data show that we cannot let up,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement. “Children who need the most too often get the least. It’s a civil rights issue, an economic-security issue, and a moral issue.”
The department’s analysis is based on 2009-10 data from the OCR’s Civil Rights Data Collection. More than 7,000 districts are included in the survey in all.
Among other data, the collection requires districts to break out school-by-school expenditures, including total personnel salaries, teacher salaries, and nonpersonnel salaries. Those data points, first required under the 2009 economic-stimulus legislation, formed the basis of the analysis.
A variety of advocates have highlighted similar disparities between low- and high-poverty schools, and have pressed federal lawmakers to address them through the Title I program for disadvantaged students.
The Education Department has proposed tackling the issue in its blueprint for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
A version of this article appeared in the October 05, 2011 edition of Education Week as Teachers Paid Less in Higher-Minority Schools