Hispanic students in Texas are seven times more likely than white students to be enrolled in high-poverty schools, which often have fewer tenured and effective teachers, according to a new report being released Wednesday that examines the well-being of the state’s children.
Black students are over 5 times more likely than whites to be enrolled in those same schools, says the State of Texas Children annual report based on data for the 2014-15 school year. The report is being issued by the Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank that lobbies for low- to moderate-income Texans.
Studies have long showed that teacher tenure and effectiveness are strong indicators of the quality of education offered in public schools. The report also found that higher percentages of black and Hispanic students attend schools with more rookie teachers than their white peers.
“Looking deep into the data, we found that too many children in Texas today continue to face tremendous barriers to opportunity because of the color of their skin,” said Ann Beeson, executive director for the public policy group.
The study gives a nod to improved high school graduation rates, including among black and Hispanic students, but those students continue to lag behind white students. The report also points to the underrepresentation of black and Hispanic students in rigorous classes, including Advanced Placement courses, and math, science and technology sections.
The Center for Public Policy Priorities called upon Texas lawmakers to expand educational opportunities for students by designating more of the state’s budget for education and increasing funding equity for school districts. Other recommendations include creating partnerships between schools, businesses and workforce development programs and making racial equity a priority so that all students have access to the same courses, particularly in science, technology, engineering and math.
Such calls for improvement also have been made recently in local school districts.
The Texas Civil Rights Project in January 2015 publicly charged that the Austin school district hasn’t addressed the disparity between the resources and opportunities given to affluent students and their low-income peers. The group threatened legal action, including possibly filing a complaint with the U.S. Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights.
The Austin district has taken some initial steps to address the concerns, including agreeing to perform a comprehensive assessment to determine whether the district offers the same quality of education to all its students.
The school board also created last year a standing oversight committee on equity, diversity and inclusion and has moved forward with a self-assessment of school disparities.
State of Texas Children 2016 findings
- Forty-two percent of Latino students and 32 percent of black students are enrolled in high-poverty schools, compared with 6 percent of their white peers.
- More than half of all black students and 41 percent of Hispanic students also attend schools with high rates of teacher turnover. Likewise, black students attend schools with greater percentages of first-year teachers than do their white counterparts.
- Seventeen of the 20 lowest-wealth districts in the state are more than 95 percent Hispanic.