America’s Education Spending Conundrum

Hello, my name is Eboni Brown and I am currently a freshman here at the College. I plan to major in Government and minor in Africana Studies. I am very interested in civil rights and government and my research this summer combines my two interests into one collective project.

Last semester I took a class entitled “African American English” by Professor Anne Charity Hudley, where I learned a lot about African American Vernacular (AAVE) and how this affects students in public schools. I was inspired by Professor Charity Hudley to research specific educational inequalities pertaining to African American English and this is how I stumbled upon my research question.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has long been a fighter in the arena of social justice and equality for people of color here in the United States. The mission of the NAACP is simple: to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination. The part of that mission that is my focus is education. Here in America, there is a serious need for education reform as well as a need to make all level of education accessible for all citizens. The issue of educational inequality is an issue that prevents all students from not only achieving a basic education, but from pursuing a post secondary education and ultimately achieving the optimal amount of success in life. I want to research this topic and see how the NAACP helps to fight educational equality here in America. My research question is: How does the NAACP Washington Bureau use their legislative powers to explain the discrepancy between school district’s high cost per pupil expenditures and their low standardized testing scores? By researching this topic I hope to learn more about how the NAACP fights for educational equality, and how lawmakers and politicians go about fixing the education system here in America so that it is truly equal for all students.

This summer I will be interning with the NAACP Washington D.C. Bureau as a Legislative Assistant through my summer fellowship with the William and Mary D.C. Summer Institutes. My internship will consist of me working with the leaders of the NAACP to improve the education system here in America by reducing financial disparities between schools in America. Despite the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution, decades of civil rights laws and volumes of talk about improving our schools, a dramatic disparity in the quality of public education continues to plague our nation.  The quality of our children’s educations, and the amount of resources dedicated to our schools, varies radically based on where you live; yet all children must take the same standardized tests regardless of the conditions of their school.  Schools are then rated on how the students performed on these tests, regardless of any other factors, such as the number of certified teachers at the school, the quality and quantity of the textbooks being used, whether modern technology is available, including computers and internet access or the size of the classrooms. Despite these differences, a recent report describes the peculiar case of the Washington D.C. Public School System that spends around $30,000 per student but boasts some of the nations lowest math and reading scores on standardized tests and a dropout rate well below the nation’s average. The D.C. Public School system has a high cost per pupil expenditure but doesn’t have any substantial academic proof to justify these high costs. This is where my research interest and topic begins. There are two types of school systems in America: One school system spends high amounts of money on its students, while the other student can’t afford to have a high cost per pupil and therefore has a low cost per pupil. Despite the cost per pupil both of these school districts perform badly on standardized tests. I want to understand why this problem exists and what school districts can do to ensure that their students are receiving a quality education and they each student can pass the state mandated standardized tests. My internship with the NAACP will provide me with first hand access to legislators and lawmakers on Capitol Hill and allow me to understand this complicated issue of school districts per pupil expenditures.


  1. castephens says:

    A very interesting topic. You can’t always throw money at a problem and expect that to fix it. I’m interested to see what you find! I’d like to know how they calculated the cost per students. Facility, teacher salaries, food, and teaching materials like textbooks I can understand, but are they invested in educating the educators? Are schools sponsoring alternative methods of teacher training conducive to a test-heavy environment for students?