Friday, July 24, 2015

How property taxes keep Florida students in impoverished school districts

Posted By on Fri, Jul 24, 2015 at 9:05 AM

  • Photo via EdBuild

Orange County parents: Ever wondered why, oh why, neighboring schools in Seminole County are so much better? The map above shows exactly how the public school system's dependence on property taxes affects your child's school quality and encourages the divide between rich and poor communities. 

Created by EdBuild, the interactive map displays student poverty levels using U.S. Census data on more than 13,000 school districts in the nation. EdBuild founder Rebecca Sibilia told the Washington Post that "gerrymandering is as much a problem for kids in public schools as it is for voters...boundaries are drawn to contain poor families rather than to favor a certain political party."

click to enlarge PHOTO VIA EDBUILD
  • Photo via EdBuild

The Orange County School District has a 24.5 percent poverty rate, while directly above it, the Seminole County School District has a poverty rate of 15.8 percent. Looking at the state map, it does in fact look like there's been some gerrymandering hands near Seminole, which stands out like a beacon among the poorer districts surrounding it. In the Osceola County School District, poverty levels are at 31.8 percent. 

The poorest school districts in Florida include the Putnam, DeSoto and Gadsen County School District, with over 40 percent of their students in poverty. 

"This system ties school budgets to the value of local property wealth and incentivizes boundaries between upper- and lower-income communities," EdBuild's website says. "Intentional or not, these invisible walls often concentrate education dollars within affluent school districts, and ensure that low-income students are kept on the outside."

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