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Kansas City Desegregation Revisited.


There are a lot of outright hoaxes about public school funding perpetrated by the “mainstream” media. The number one hoax is the claim that majority black public schools receive less funding than majority white public schools. The second hoax is built around the first. The media will claim that blacks do poorly, because less money is spent on their schools.

In the past, CofCC.org has reported on numerous studies that show the exact opposite is true. If Washington DC was a state, it would be the state with the highest per student public school funding. It would also be the state with the blackest schools. However, despite scandalously high spending per pupil, Washington DC public schools are described as “the worst performing in the industrialized world.”

All across the nation, vast amounts of white tax dollars are diverted from the white community to go to majority black public schools. CofCC.org has reported on studies from several states that show the average per pupil expenditure is greatest when the school is majority black. No where in the country is the disparity greater than in Missouri. Majority black public schools in St. Louis and Kansas City receive triple the funding as majority white public schools in the poor Ozark region. However, the poor white children still greatly outperform the over funded black schools.

From the Cato Institute (from 1998)…

For decades critics of the public schools have been saying, “You can’t solve educational problems by throwing money at them.” The education establishment and its supporters have replied, “No one’s ever tried.” In Kansas City they did try. To improve the education of black students and encourage desegregation, a federal judge invited the Kansas City, Missouri, School District to come up with a cost-is-no-object educational plan and ordered local and state taxpayers to find the money to pay for it.

Kansas City spent as much as $11,700 per pupil–more money per pupil, on a cost of living adjusted basis, than any other of the 280 largest districts in the country. The money bought higher teachers’ salaries, 15 new schools, and such amenities as an Olympic-sized swimming pool with an underwater viewing room, television and animation studios, a robotics lab, a 25-acre wildlife sanctuary, a zoo, a model United Nations with simultaneous translation capability, and field trips to Mexico and Senegal. The student-teacher ratio was 12 or 13 to 1, the lowest of any major school district in the country.

The results were dismal. Test scores did not rise; the black-white gap did not diminish; and there was less, not greater, integration.

The Kansas City experiment suggests that, indeed, educational problems can’t be solved by throwing money at them, that the structural problems of our current educational system are far more important than a lack of material resources, and that the focus on desegregation diverted attention from the real problem, low achievement.