Academic journal article Atlantic Economic Journal

Federal Funding of Public Schools: De Facto Affirmative Action?

Academic journal article Atlantic Economic Journal

Federal Funding of Public Schools: De Facto Affirmative Action?

Article excerpt

The Federal government has at its disposal numerous methods of implementing programs which favor one group over another. A prime possibility is that Federal funding for education can be used as a defacto affirmative action program to redress past inequities. This study examines whether such has been the case, using data from Georgia schools. Specifically, the study examines the funding of school districts outside the Atlanta metropolitan area for the 1987-88 school year. In all but 23 of the 176 school districts examined, the school district boundaries coincide with the county lines. The other 23 school districts are city districts located in counties maintaining separate districts. On average, 29.2 percent of the population of these counties is black. The fraction ranges from nearly 0 to 78.2 percent, with the fraction exceeding 38 percent in one-fourth of the counties. Thus, there is a significant amount of variation in the fraction of black students among the districts, On average, Federal funding accounts for 4.7 percent of the districts' funding, with the fraction ranging from 1.2 percent to 16.5 percent; it is below 6.1 percent in three-fourths of the school districts.

The authors estimate the Federal government's share of spending F as a function of the percent of population which is black B, holding the following constant: school district size S, average income I, the fraction of the population which is rural R, the fraction which falls below the poverty line P, the fraction of under- 18-year-olds receiving AFDC payments A, and the fraction of school children qualifying for free lunch L. …

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