We Must Confront the Opportunity Gap in Education

The achievement gap is better understood as an opportunity gap where systemic inequities in access to educational resources and opportunities hinder students' ability to achieve their full potential in the classroom. "Confronting the Opportunity Gap," a new report from the Alliance for Quality Education and the Public Policy and Education Fund, lays out how New York is a leader in educational inequity and how the state could go about reforming its education system to ensure access and opportunity for each and every student.

That wealthier communities have better capacity to invest more resources in their schools is true across the country. However, the inequities between wealthy and low-income districts in New York has resulted in a gaping $8,601 per pupil spending gap. As the report points out, this means low-income districts get less of everything that spending supports, including art classes, music, college-level Advance Placement courses and more.

In 2007 and 2008, New York began funding the statewide settlement of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit and, for a time, more resources starting going to the communities that needed them most. But with the recession came drastic decreases to the state education budget that have resulted in four straight years of cuts to classroom funding.

In order to get the state back on a track to ensuring fair funding and equitably opportunity, the report recommends that legislators restore the cut funding and invest additional resources to support classroom operations. Moreover, those funds should be distributed through a school aid formula that maximizes funding for high need and average need school districts.

Download the full report here!

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