According to John McNally of the Rauch Foundation, there are many issues that are affecting the educational system of Long Island: racial segregation being linked to the varying poverty levels of districts, neglect towards fruitful childhood education programs, and unfair money budgets for districts based on each district’s wealth. McNally shared information regarding how these factors are influencing the fate of the educational system of Long Island at a press conference that was held on July sixth at Hofstra University’s Dempster Hall.
The educational system on Long Island is affected by numerous factors. Different school districts request different sums of money for their budget. The amount of money allotted to each district depends on the demographics of the area. Often times, high-income districts have a higher budget for their educational systems, whereas low-income districts have a significantly lower budget. With a lower budget, some districts have lower educational standards and tend to do poorly on state exams as compared to the higher-income schools on Long Island. According to McNally, in 2007 over eighty percent of students from middle income and high income districts passed the fourth grade English state exam, whereas only about a mere sixty percent in lower-income districts passed the same exam.
Districts with low poverty levels usually have lower racial diversity than districts with high poverty levels. According to McNally, this is because Long Island is the third most segregated region in America, since it was a region that was built upon a population that was comprised mostly of white people. Because of this heavy concentration, high-poverty districts consist of mostly minorities, while low-poverty districts consist of mostly white people.
An excess of districts has also become a problem. Suffolk County, with a total of sixty-eight districts, is ranked fourth in the nation for amount of county school districts. On the same list, Nassau County is ranked seventh with fifty-six districts. Because there is an excess of these districts, 124 in all, there is too much segregation between the districts. Low-income districts consist mostly of minorities. As pointed out by McNally during his presentation, if Long Island only had twelve districts in total, then there would be a better balance of power and race between each district, thus all districts will achieve more.
The quality of a student’s childhood education plays a major role in how the he or she and the Long Island economy are affected. Studies have shown that about ninety percent of a human’s brain is developed during the first three years of life, meaning that how a child is educated from nursery to fifth grade affects his or her academic success later on in life. This fact is often left unnoticed, and only about 14 percent of public education dollars are spent on early childhood education. This proves that elementary schools aren’t getting the funding that they need to properly enrich their students. Since these schools in particular aren’t receiving enough funding, then young children most likely will not be able to reach their full potential in their later years of life. However, McNally mentioned that for every one dollar invested in early childhood education, the government could save seven dollars later on, keeping Long Island’s economy stable.
John McNally of the Rauch Foundation presented only the facts when discussing the factors affecting the Long Island educational system. However, it is possible for these factors to be changed. The Rauch Foundation focuses on helping to repair these and many other problems in Long Island’s educational system.