It's not the size of the budget, it's how it's spent

Don't worry, we are indeed aware that the US, like everywhere else, is not quite entirely the land of peace, love and understanding which we would all hope for, even on matters such as race. We also entirely agree that not everyone gets an entirely fair shake of the stick in this imperfect world.

However, there is something we do think should be mentioned concerning this piece in The Guardian:

Two summers ago, Indigo Williams couldn’t have been more thrilled to send her son off for his first day of school.

Her home was zoned into Madison Station elementary school in Madison, Mississippi, an “A” rated school and district where her son JS, then five, quickly dove into Kindergarten with enthusiasm. JS was taking Taekwondo lessons and was served fresh fruits and vegetables in the cafeteria. He had access to tutoring.

But when Williams and her children moved just a few miles away before the start of the following school year, her home was instead zoned to an elementary school in the Jackson, MS school district. She was horrified to see just how dramatic the difference could be.

Now attending Raines Elementary, Williams says Jonathan’s environment “feels more like a jail than a school. Paint is chipping off the walls. They’ve served him expired food in the cafeteria,” she said.

That first school district is majority white, the second overwhelmingly black. Thus a court case over the inequality. Which we do indeed hope succeeds. For there's an interesting little point which The G's story doesn't tell us.

School funding in the US is almost entirely local, paid for from property taxes inside the school district. There's also some levelling and topping up from the State in most places. It's thus obvious enough that poorer school districts could have lower budgets than richer ones and yes, as we all know, there's a racial imbalance in the US in who has all the money and the nice expensive houses.


Except. The Madison school district spends some $7,500 a year on each pupil, a little lower than the Mississippi state average (and well below the US one but then wages in general are lower too) and the Jackson one $8,100.

As we've been known to point out before it's not, often enough, the size of the budget that matters, but how it is spent that does.