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States with the worst education disparity

  • States with the worst education disparity

    Education has long been a hot-button political issue, with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle arguing over the extent to which opportunities are provided equally to all students. In an article for Brookings, Dick Startz, a professor of economics at the University of California in Santa Barbara, discusses some of the key indicators of educational opportunity in America. Startz points out that black and white students tend not to attend the same schools, and schools with a majority of black students are more likely to have uncertified teachers, less likely to offer advanced placement and gifted programs, and even less likely to teach calculus. 

    To examine how detrimental racial disparity is in education, Stacker has used data from the 2018 U.S. Census, ranking each state by the difference between the percentage of whites and people of color—which includes black or African American, American Indian and Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, and two or more races, excluding minority data if the population is under 5,000 in the state—who have obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher. Additionally, data indicating whether whites or non-whites are more likely to finish high school, as well as a racial and gender breakdown, has been included for each state.

    Important data points to note include the fact that 24.9% of the entire national population holds a bachelor’s degree. The national rate of whites holding a bachelor’s degree or higher is 25.6% (22.5% for non-whites). Nationally, the percentage of women with a bachelor’s degree is 25.7%; it’s 24.1% for men. Finally, Stacker's ranking is based solely on the educational gap between races. An alternative would be creating an index including gender and family income, but this data set only includes current income, not family income when a child.

    From New Jersey to Washington to Hawaii, find out which state is more likely to graduate people of color, and which state has the greatest educational disparity along racial lines: starting at #50, the state with the least amount of education disparity, and ending with #1, the state with the highest amount of education disparity. 

    RELATED: States spending the most and least per student on education

  • #50. New Jersey

    Race gap
    Whites are 0% more likely than people of color to graduate with a bachelor's or higher; whites are 0% more likely than people of color to finish high school.
    —White: 30.7% bachelor's or higher; 9.8% do not finish high school
    —People of color: 30.6% bachelor's or higher; 9.8% do not finish high school
    —Black or African-American: 19.2% bachelor's or higher; 11.5% do not finish high school
    —American Indian and Alaska Native: data not included due to small population
    —Asian: 53.1% bachelor's or higher; 7.3% do not finish high school
    —Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander: data not included due to small population
    —Two or more races: 5% bachelor's or higher; 9.9% do not finish high school

    Gender gap
    Women are 0.8% more likely than men to graduate with a bachelor's or higher; women are 1% more likely than men to finish high school.
    —Female: 31.1% achieve bachelor's or higher; 9.3% do not finish high school
    —Male: 30.2% achieve bachelor's or higher; 10.3% do not finish high school

    New Jersey's population is well above the national average when it comes to higher education. While 24.9% of Americans nationally have completed a bachelor's degree, in New Jersey over 30% of the state's residents (including white people and people of color) hold a bachelor's or higher—though a larger percentage of white residents have a bachelor's degree or higher than black or African-American residents. Also notable, more black or African-American students than white students do not finish high school: In May 2018, several groups filed a lawsuit alleging that New Jersey "has been complicit in the creation and persistence of school segregation because it has adopted and implemented laws, regulations and policies that foster and enable residential segregation."

  • #49. Arizona

    Race gap
    Whites are 0.8% more likely than people of color to graduate with a bachelor's or higher; people of color are 0.8% more likely than whites to finish high school.
    —White: 23.9% bachelor's or higher; 15.8% do not finish high school
    —People of color: 23.2% bachelor's or higher; 15% do not finish high school
    —Black or African-American: 20.9% bachelor's or higher; 11.9% do not finish high school
    —American Indian and Alaska Native: 8.3% bachelor's or higher; 18.4% do not finish high school
    —Asian: 46.5% bachelor's or higher; 14.5% do not finish high school
    —Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander: 7.7% bachelor's or higher; 0% do not finish high school
    —Two or more races: 8.1% bachelor's or higher; 17.7% do not finish high school

    Gender gap
    Men are 1.1% more likely than women to graduate with a bachelor's or higher; men are 0.1% more likely than women to finish high school
    —Female: 23.2% achieve bachelor's or higher; 15.7% do not finish high school
    —Male: 24.3% achieve bachelor's or higher; 15.6% do not finish high school

    While there is only a slight educational disparity between whites and people of color in Arizona, the state as a whole struggles academically. Education is the #1 issue facing Arizona, according to a poll of 600 likely voters conducted Dec. 10–12, 2018, from funding for education and teacher raises to charter-school reform. Last year's #RedForEd teacher strike in the state has reportedly led lawmakers to approve of Gov. Doug Ducey's plan to increase teachers' salaries by 20% above 2016 levels by 2020, though there is question of whether Arizona is actually meeting its education funding duties in general. 

  • #48. Nevada

    Race gap
    Whites are 1% more likely than people of color to graduate with a bachelor's or higher; whites are 1% more likely than people of color to finish high school.
    —White: 16.8% bachelor's or higher; 12.1% do not finish high school
    —People of color: 15.8% bachelor's or higher; 13.1% do not finish high school
    —Black or African-American: 15% bachelor's or higher; 10.7% do not finish high school
    —American Indian and Alaska Native: 3.9% bachelor's or higher; 16.6% do not finish high school
    —Asian: 28.6% bachelor's or higher; 11.3% do not finish high school
    —Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander: 13.3% bachelor's or higher; 11.7% do not finish high school
    —Two or more races: 7.5% bachelor's or higher; 18.5% do not finish high school

    Gender gap
    Women are 2.7% more likely than men to graduate with a bachelor's or higher; men are 0.1% more likely than women to finish high school.
    —Female: 17.8% achieve bachelor's or higher; 12.4% do not finish high school
    —Male: 15.1% achieve bachelor's or higher; 12.3% do not finish high school

    Overall educational achievement is low among Nevada's students, though it is lower across minority groups, and places like Clark County are trying to change that. In Summer 2018, Superintendent Jesus Jara appointed Mike Barton to a newly created position: chief college, career, and equity officer. Barton notes "transparent opportunity gaps for African-American students or those on free or reduced-price lunch," and says they are examining their course offerings and considering students' needs. 

  • #47. Iowa

    Race gap
    Whites are 1.2% more likely than people of color to graduate with a bachelor's or higher; whites are 2.4% more likely than people of color to finish high school.
    —White: 22.6% bachelor's or higher; 9.2% do not finish high school
    —People of color: 21.4% bachelor's or higher; 11.6% do not finish high school
    —Black or African-American: 9.6% bachelor's or higher; 13.2% do not finish high school
    —American Indian and Alaska Native: 21.8% bachelor's or higher; 18.8% do not finish high school
    —Asian: 36.9% bachelor's or higher; 6.5% do not finish high school
    —Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander: 12.7% bachelor's or higher; 38.8% do not finish high school
    —Two or more races: 23.5% bachelor's or higher; 9.1% do not finish high school

    Gender gap
    Men are 0.5% more likely than women to graduate with a bachelor's or higher; men are 0.8% more likely than women to finish high school.
    —Female: 22.2% achieve bachelor's or higher; 9.8% do not finish high school
    —Male: 22.7% achieve bachelor's or higher; 8.9% do not finish high school

    Iowa is just below the national average when it comes to the overall percentage of its residents holding bachelor's degrees, but it is remarkable how much lower educational attainment is for black or African-American people, as well as for Native Americans. In addition, 38.8% of Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander individuals do not finish high school—there has been a notable growth of migration of Pacific Islanders to the U.S. in all 50 states, and jobs are suggested to be a driving force. There is also question of whether this community is misrepresented on the U.S. Census. In March 2018, the Iowa Department of Education published a legislative report on how it is trying to close achievement gaps in the state. 

  • #46. Washington

    Race gap
    People of color are 1.9% more likely than whites to graduate with a bachelor's or higher; people of color are 0.7% more likely than whites to finish high school.
    —White: 26.7% bachelor's or higher; 10.5% do not finish high school
    —People of color: 28.6% bachelor's or higher; 9.8% do not finish high school
    —Black or African-American: 20.2% bachelor's or higher; 9.6% do not finish high school
    —American Indian and Alaska Native: 11.4% bachelor's or higher; 17.4% do not finish high school
    —Asian: 39.2% bachelor's or higher; 10% do not finish high school
    —Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander: 9% bachelor's or higher; 13.6% do not finish high school
    —Two or more races: 19.2% bachelor's or higher; 6.4% do not finish high school

    Gender gap
    Women are 2.8% more likely than men to graduate with a bachelor's or higher; men are 0.2% more likely than women to finish high school.
    —Female: 28.6% achieve bachelor's or higher; 10.5% do not finish high school
    —Male: 25.7% achieve bachelor's or higher; 10.2% do not finish high school

    Washington is a rare state in which people of color are more likely to finish high school or to hold a bachelor's degree than whites. Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians living in Washington are still the least likely to finish high school, which can be attributed in part to the fact that Washington spends $2,000 less per pupil than the national average. Those budget cuts hit the rural districts, which in Washington tend to service more Native children than white children the hardest, leaving them without the resources necessary to ensure children graduate.

     

  • #45. Vermont

    Race gap
    Whites are 2.1% more likely than people of color to graduate with a bachelor's or higher; whites are 9.5% more likely than people of color to finish high school.
    —White: 30.4% bachelor's or higher; 9.1% do not finish high school
    —People of color: 28.2% bachelor's or higher; 18.6% do not finish high school
    —Black or African-American: 24.3% bachelor's or higher; 24.4% do not finish high school
    —American Indian and Alaska Native: data not included due to small population
    —Asian: 35.9% bachelor's or higher; 18.1% do not finish high school
    —Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander: data not included due to small population
    —Two or more races: 18.9% bachelor's or higher; 20.1% do not finish high school

    Gender gap
    Men are 0.1% more likely than women to graduate with a bachelor's or higher; women are 1% more likely than men to finish high school.
    —Female: 30.1% achieve bachelor's or higher; 9.3% do not finish high school
    —Male: 30.2% achieve bachelor's or higher; 10.3% do not finish high school

    For both whites and people of color, Vermont is well above the national average for bachelor's degree holders (25.6% and 22.5%, respectively). A report by the University of Southern California’s Race and Equity Center puts the University of Vermont in the top 36 of 500 institutions with the highest "equity index" scores. That being said, the state also scores low when it comes to high school graduation rates for people of color (48th in the nation), and it is even worse for black or African-American people with nearly a quarter not graduating from high school. 

  • #44. Illinois

    Race gap
    Whites are 2.3% more likely than people of color to graduate with a bachelor's or higher; whites are 0.3% more likely than people of color to finish high school.
    —White: 27.8% bachelor's or higher; 11.4% do not finish high school
    —People of color: 25.5% bachelor's or higher; 11.7% do not finish high school
    —Black or African-American: 18.2% bachelor's or higher; 13.3% do not finish high school
    —American Indian and Alaska Native: 7.3% bachelor's or higher; 11.6% do not finish high school
    —Asian: 49.8% bachelor's or higher; 7.7% do not finish high school
    —Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander: 24.4% bachelor's or higher; 17.1% do not finish high school
    —Two or more races: 8.2% bachelor's or higher; 12.2% do not finish high school

    Gender gap
    Women are 3.4% more likely than men to graduate with a bachelor's or higher; women are 0.7% more likely than men to finish high school.
    —Female: 29% achieve bachelor's or higher; 11.1% do not finish high school
    —Male: 25.5% achieve bachelor's or higher; 11.8% do not finish high school

    Illinois scores high on the list not only for closing in on the racial gap in education—whites are only 2.3% more likely than people of color to have an undergraduate degree—but also for clocking in well above average when it comes to the percentage of women in the state who have gotten a bachelor's degree. Still, black students are more likely to be disciplined than their classmates of other races, according to ProPublica, which is notable because researchers discovered that when schools lessened disciplinary actions, black students had higher attendance and test scores.  

  • #43. West Virginia

    Race gap
    Whites are 2.3% more likely than people of color to graduate with a bachelor's or higher; whites are 1.3% more likely than people of color to finish high school.
    —White: 15.1% bachelor's or higher; 13.7% do not finish high school
    —People of color: 12.8% bachelor's or higher; 15% do not finish high school
    —Black or African-American: 13.3% bachelor's or higher; 13.5% do not finish high school
    —American Indian and Alaska Native: data not included due to small population
    —Asian: 44.4% bachelor's or higher; 15.4% do not finish high school
    —Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander: data not included due to small population
    —Two or more races: 4.9% bachelor's or higher; 15.8% do not finish high school

    Gender gap
    Women are 1.6% more likely than men to graduate with a bachelor's or higher; women are 1.9% more likely than men to finish high school.
    —Female: 15.7% achieve bachelor's or higher; 12.8% do not finish high school
    —Male: 14.1% achieve bachelor's or higher; 14.7% do not finish high school

    West Virginia is the 48th-least racially diverse state in the union, and there is not a massive difference between races when it comes to high school graduation: whites are only 1.3% more likely to graduate from high school than people of color. It also ranks on the lowest end of the scale in terms of higher education attainment—only 15.1% of whites and 12.8% of non-whites in the state earn bachelor's degrees.

  • #42. Kentucky

    Race gap
    Whites are 2.7% more likely than people of color to graduate with a bachelor's or higher; people of color are 3.6% more likely than whites to finish high school.
    —White: 19% bachelor's or higher; 14.8% do not finish high school
    —People of color: 16.3% bachelor's or higher; 11.1% do not finish high school
    —Black or African-American: 15.8% bachelor's or higher; 12.1% do not finish high school
    —American Indian and Alaska Native: 6.3% bachelor's or higher; 12.7% do not finish high school
    —Asian: 53.6% bachelor's or higher; 10.9% do not finish high school
    —Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander: 0% bachelor's or higher; 0% do not finish high school
    —Two or more races: 5% bachelor's or higher; 8.6% do not finish high school

    Gender gap
    Women are 4.3% more likely than men to graduate with a bachelor's or higher; women are 0.7% more likely than men to finish high school.
    —Female: 20.8% achieve bachelor's or higher; 14% do not finish high school
    —Male: 16.5% achieve bachelor's or higher; 14.7% do not finish high school

    In April 2018 thousands of educators in Kentucky found their benefits cut and their pensions gutted. Per-pupil school funding was also cut by 16%. These dramatic changes saw many educators retire from teaching, or quit their jobs in search of greener pastures in other states. Given Kentucky's already abysmally low levels of educational attainment (fewer than 20% of Kentucky residents of any race earn bachelor's degrees), these cuts to teacher benefits could spell further doom for Kentucky students.

  • #41. Utah

    Race gap
    People of color are 3% more likely than whites to graduate with a bachelor's or higher; people of color are 2.5% more likely than whites to finish high school.
    —White: 21.2% bachelor's or higher; 10.4% do not finish high school
    —People of color: 24.3% bachelor's or higher; 7.9% do not finish high school
    —Black or African-American: 22.7% bachelor's or higher; 4.7% do not finish high school
    —American Indian and Alaska Native: 9.8% bachelor's or higher; 28.2% do not finish high school
    —Asian: 47% bachelor's or higher; 5.6% do not finish high school
    —Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander: 8.8% bachelor's or higher; 5.7% do not finish high school
    —Two or more races: 21.4% bachelor's or higher; 3.8% do not finish high school

    Gender gap
    Men are 0.1% more likely than women to graduate with a bachelor's or higher; women are 0.4% more likely than men to finish high school.
    —Female: 21.4% achieve bachelor's or higher; 10.1% do not finish high school
    —Male: 21.5% achieve bachelor's or higher; 10.4% do not finish high school

    People of color in Utah are 3% more likely to obtain a bachelor's degree than their white counterparts. One contributing factor to this could be the presence of Mormonism in the state. The Mormon Church is largely a white one, and 62.8% of the state's residents are members. Some within the church speculate that low graduation rates among Mormon students are related to high rate of young marriage by women in the church. There has been a trend for some years for Latter-Day Saints women to attend university for a year or two and then leave to marry and start a family.

     

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