On Wednesday July 6, the Environmental Program Officer for the Rauch Foundation, John McNally, gave a conference at Hofstra University in Dempster Hall. While being there, he spoke with students about how tax property was affecting the education on Long Island. According to McNally one of the biggest problems that Long Island is facing is the fact that it contains 901 separate tax districts and the money is not being shared equally, or correctly amongst all the counties.
The Rauch Foundation is a foundation that has three main goals. These goals go from improving the lives of young children and their education, to the Long Island Index Program (LIIP). The LIIP promotes leadership for Long Island residents and tries to unite as many districts as possible in order to better the education received by students. 60% of taxes from homes go to schools in Long Island, however, the schools districts are not receiving the amount of money they really need.
In one instance, most of the tax revenue from Roosevelt Field goes to Garden City schools, a higher income district, while none of this tax revenue goes to Hempstead, a lower income district.
Research done by the LIIP, shows that Long Island is the third most segregated suburban area and that most of the tax money goes to the low poverty schools, when it should actually go to the high poverty schools whose students have a need for it.
Research also shows that most of the high poverty schools, are composed of minorities such as African Americans and Latinos while low poverty schools are mainly composed of Caucasians.
The fact that the money is not going to the districts it should go to does not only affect the materials that the students receive, but it also affects the performance of the students.
Research shows that in high income districts, 80% of fourth graders pass their English Language Art state exams and their eighth grade math state exams, while only 60% of them are able to pass those tests in lower income schools. It also affects the graduation rates of many students. On the LIIP website (longislandindex.org) it states that “over the three year period of 2002-2004, low poverty schools have maintained a graduation rate of 95%, while high poverty schools have a 69% graduation rate.”
According to McNally, although this is a big issue, there is still time for solutions. He suggests “merging school districts together,” instead of having many different school districts as Long Island has now will help improve these numbers. He also spoke of another solution known as “magnet schools,” which are schools that take students from different districts and put them together with a great amount of diversity. Although “the clock is still ticking for Long Island,” it is not too late to change the ways of dealing with these problems. There is still time to turn everything around.