Unequal Schools: Connecticut's Racial, Socioeconomic, and Geographic Disparities in Kindergarten Class Size and Teaching Experience

Unequal Schools: Connecticut's Racial, Socioeconomic, and Geographic Disparities in Kindergarten Class Size and Teaching Experience

Kenneth Feder, Sarah Iverson, and Cyd Oppenheimer, J.D., Connecticut Voices for Children, March 2015, available here.

Low-income students and students of color are more likely to attend public schools with the largest kindergarten classes and least experienced teachers, this report finds. 

Connecticut’s residential segregation is a key factor in these disparities, and this inequality in resources is widening the state’s educational opportunity gap.  Among the report’s key findings:

  • Schools with the largest kindergarten classes are comprised primarily of students of color and low-income students.  In the fifth of Connecticut public schools with the largest kindergarten classes, nearly four out of every five students (78%) is a student of color, and more than three out of every four students (76%) is eligible for free or reduced price meals (a common measure of student poverty).
  • Similarly, schools with the least experienced teachers are made up primarily of minority and low-income students.  In the fifth of public schools with the lowest average levels of teaching experience, two-thirds of students (67%) are students of color, and three out of every five (61%) are eligible for free or reduced price meals.

The report’s findings suggest that the roots of these inequalities in resources lie in Connecticut’s residential segregation:

  • A majority of schools with largest kindergarten classes (67%) and least experienced teachers (53%) are concentrated in the 10 towns with the lowest percentage of white residents.
  • These under-resourced schools are also disproportionately located in high-poverty towns.  Sixty-one percent of schools with the largest kindergarten classes and 47% of schools with the lowest average levels of teaching experience are located in the ten towns with the highest child poverty rates.

To broaden access to well-resourced schools, the report recommends:

  • Reforming the state’s system of education funding to ensure that towns can afford to offer every student a high quality education, regardless of their property tax base.
  • Increasing transparency in public education spending to ensure that dollars are invested in evidence-based resources.
  • Investigating and remediating barriers that prevent families from being able to live in integrated communities with well-resourced schools.
  • Open Communities Alliance
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