Paul Huang and Olivia Peebles: It’s time to pass a Fair School Funding Plan
This op-ed from Cleveland.com was written by a pair of students from Shaker Heights High School. Paul Huang is a senior; Olivia Peebles in a junior. Both are members of the Shaker Heights High School Student Group on Race Relations. In this op-ed, they lay out a defense of their high school against Ohio’s flawed school rating system.
In Shaker, we are fortunate to have educational opportunities ranging from honors courses and AP/IB classes to vocational training. We are also fortunate to have an administration and staff that strives to close achievement, opportunity and wealth gaps that stem from systemic racism.
Yet the Shaker Heights City School District has three so-called “failing” schools and received an overall “C” average on the Ohio Department of Education’s annual report card.
The school report card is based heavily on standardized achievement data, which is linked to socioeconomic status. Standardized tests do not consider the specific challenges some districts have, such as high poverty.
Schools with larger numbers of Black and brown students or children whose families have low incomes are more likely to be deemed “failing.”
The report card also grades districts on closing a “racial achievement gap,” without considering the opportunity barriers communities of color face due to years of segregation, discrimination and exploitation.
When the state considers a school to be “failing,” it can send the district’s funding to private schools via vouchers. This gap-closing metric actually widens achievement gaps by underfunding the schools that need extra resources to close them.