ON RESEARCH AND LEADERSHIP
ENGAGING EXCELLENCE IN INEQUITIES IN EDUCATIONAL
EQUITY FELLOWS OPPORTUNITIES AND
How do community colleges
support underrepresented, racially FUNDING
minoritized students? (p. 11) Tracing unequal funding to inequitable
student outcomes in P-20 pipeline.
Reclaiming the Vol. 29, No. 2
An interveiw with Dr. Estela
Mara Bensimon on creating
equity-centered tools for
college practitioners. (p. 6)
2 UPDATE - FALL 2019
The Office of Community College Research and Leadership (OCCRL) was
established in 1989 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. OCCRL
is affiliated with the Department of Educational Policy, Organization, &
Leadership in the College of Education. Projects of this office are supported by
the Illinois Community College Board and the Illinois State Board of Education,
along with other state, federal, private, and not-for-profit organizations. The
content within publications does not necessarily represent the positions or
policies of our sponsors or the University of Illinois. Comments or inquiries
about our publications are welcome and should be directed to [email protected]
edu. The UPDATE is prepared pursuant to a grant from the Illinois Community
College Board (Federal Award Identification Number: Grant Number: D56871).
©2019 Board of Trustees, University of Illinois.
11 Our mission is to use research and
evaluation methods to improve policies, programs,
and practices to enhance community college
education and transition to college for diverse
learners at the state, national, and international
UPDATE - FALL 2019 3
DIRECTOR’S NOTE CONTENTS
Autumn in academia marks a time to start anew. 04 Reclaiming the Racial Justice
It ushers in a new year -- academically speaking.
With a new school year comes new opportunities Meaning of Equity
to be reflective scholars and practitioners that
recognize misaligned rhetoric and reality. Every Dr. Eboni M. Zamani-Gallaher
fall presents a good time to reconsider how to
advance access, affirm, and uplift diverse learners. 07 Racial Realities of Community
The Fall 2019 issue of Update on Research and
Leadership offers our readers a chance to consider College Institutional Climates
the inextricably intertwined relationship between
racial justice and equitable outcomes. At OCCRL, Chaddrick James-Gallaway
we know and embrace the origins of community
colleges rooted in social justice imperatives. 11 Engaging Excellence in Equity
Hence, broadening participation and chipping
away at inequitable completion is critical. We Fellows
are committed to promoting transformative
educational environments that produce equitable D r. Raina Dyer-Barr
I hope you find this issue stirs you to have daring 14 Inequities in Educational
dialogues that consider equity consciousness.
More aptly, conversations that do not skirt race, Opportunities and Funding
racism, and racial justice as they are not divorced
from campus realities or action steps to redress HyeJin (Tina) Yeo & Dr. William Trent
Lastly, if you haven’t noticed, this issue of Update 25 Waiting to Exhale and Experiencing
has a fresh new look you’re going to enjoy. As
always, share this issue and prior issues with Reflux in American Race Relations
colleagues! Please stay connected by joining us on
Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Dr. Eboni M. Zamani-Gallaher
Eboni M. Zamani-Gallaher
UPDATE on Research and
Leadership is a biannual newsletter with
articles on programs, policies, and research that
highlights transitions to, through, and out of
postsecondary education. Sign up via the
OCCRL mailing list to receive regular news and
updates from OCCRL.
Editor-at-Large: Eboni M. Zamani-Gallaher
Managing Editors: Eboni M. Zamani-Gallaher and Sal Nudo
Copy Editor: Sal Nudo
Graphic Designer: Jason Keist
4 UPDATE - FALL 2019
by Eboni M. Zamani-Gallaher,
Dr. Estela Mara Bensimon is a professor of higher education at Dr. Zamani-Gallaher: Since founding the Center for Urban Education,
the Rossier School of Education and the director of the Center for you have challenged the status quo of institutional and structural
Urban Education (CUE) at the University of Southern California. practices that have adversely affected students of color from accessing, as
Her focus for decades has been on increasing racial equity in higher well as excelling, in higher education. Over the years, as you’ve impacted
education outcomes for students of color. Along with founding thousands of educators and taken action toward systemic change, can
CUE in 1999, Bensimon developed the Equity Scorecard, a you share how you’ve aided college professionals who are taking steps
process for using inquiry to drive changes in institutional practice in their daily work to reverse the impact of historical and structural
and culture. Her research has been supported by grants from the disadvantages that prevent student success?
Ford Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Dr. Bensimon: In the work that I do at the center, the approach
Teagle Foundation. In addition, Bensimon’s work on equity, on we’ve taken is that in order to be able to help colleges perform better
organizational learning, and on practitioner inquiry and change for minoritized populations, it is important for practitioners—and I’m
has been published extensively in publications such as as the Review using the word practitioner to refer from presidents to faculty members
of Higher Education, the Journal of Higher Education, and the to staff—to develop a new mental schema, a new cognitive frame. Rather
Harvard Educational Review. than thinking about inequities in graduation rates and participation in
The following conversation took place during a Democracy’s College STEM as having to do with the characteristics of students, they start
podcast interview between Bensimon and OCCRL Director asking questions such as why is it that our institution performs so much
Eboni Zamani-Gallaher in May 2019. Those interested in issues better for white students? And what are we doing to contribute to these
surrounding racial justice can also listen to the full podcast with racial inequities?
Bensimon. The way our center has worked is to create tools that enable faculty
members, as well as deans and department chairs, to examine their
everyday practices through the lens of racial equity. What I would say
is that the way we support institutional actors is by creating these tools,
and by creating the structure that enables a faculty member, or teams
of faculty members to examine their syllabi, and to see how the tone
of it anticipates that students come in as potential failures rather than
as potentially successful students. And when faculty do that with the
guided protocol, they can change not only the syllabus, but also their
own ways of thinking about minoritized students. There’s much more to
it, but that’s the simple answer.
We are strong believers that faculty and everyone else we work with want
to do the right thing. We start out from that premise, but also that they
just don’t know how to do it. Our approach is a learning approach. It’s
providing the tools to mediate equity mindedness, which we define in
UPDATE - FALL 2019 5
several competencies. What’s different about this work is that most ways. And most of the accountability instruments, nationally, do not
of what we do in higher education is targeted at students. We have do that.
lots of special programs for minoritized students, and these are good
programs, but they start off on the premise that the students have What I would say about California is that we are making many
to adapt to the campus as it is. And most campuses, except for these attempts, but more important than just the Student Success Scorecard
historically black colleges and universities, were founded by whites, is the fact that we are the only state that has a student equity policy
for whites. So we need adaptation not only from the perspective of for community colleges that is actually funded. So community
tutors, but also from the institutional leaders and practitioners. colleges in California have to submit a student-equity plan where
they have to identify disproportionate impact in outcomes for
Dr. Zamani-Gallaher: The California Community College System several groups: Race, and ethnicity is one of those groups. And they
has a Student Success Scorecard, and over the years it’s drawn a lot do receive funding. This student equity planning, if it’s done well,
of praise. It’s a web-based scorecard that contains comprehensive can be an instrument that allows community colleges to focus on
information on student performance at each of your state’s race and ethnicity and to actually establish goals. In California, the
community colleges. Although the details about student outcomes chancellor’s goal for transfer is that in the next four or five years,
have become more accessible within the state of California, what can community colleges will improve their transfer rates by 35% over
you tell us about what you think colleges can do in terms of their the baseline.
presidents advancing equitable student outcomes?
One of the things we’ve done at CUE is prepared data portfolios
Dr. Bensimon: You started out the question asking me about for colleges showing what that 35% would mean for black, Latinx
California, and I have to say that it was being in California, at the students, Native Americans and so on, so that they can start
University of Southern California in 1995, which motivated me to establishing goals around that 35%. But the 35% itself is not enough
develop an agenda that focuses on racial equity. And the reason I because if everybody goes up by 35%, you don’t do away with the
did that was because everyone at the gaps. So we have actually created
time was speaking about diversity, portfolios that show getting to the
and when you looked at California’s 35% and closing the racial equity gap.
And when colleges see that I need to
...the reclaiming of racialcommunity colleges, diversity was transfer 1,000 more Latinxs in order
to get to that, it may seem daunting,
not the problem. They were very, very
“ justice is to not allow fordiverse. The problem was that diversity
was not translating into transfer rates, but it’s also a concrete goal that you can
break up into four years. It’s something
equity to be just a word thatinto associate degrees, and so access
was insufficient. And so that’s when I you can monitor, and that’s what
decided to focus only on racial equity you sprinkle like salt in a accountability is about. It’s something
and to think about that work. In we don’t do. We don’t establish goals
some ways the Equity Scorecard is an meal...” by race and ethnicity. California has
accountability tool. Regarding your an anti-affirmative action ban, but
question about the community college the student equity policy, because it
Student Success Scorecard, I would say that it has been a good includes race and ethnicity, is one of the groups that needs to be
attempt to make data more transparent. Up until the scorecard, the examined for disproportionate impact. It essentially gives permission
chancellor’s office would not publish data desegregated by race and to community colleges to focus on race and ethnicity. Having that
ethnicity, despite many of us asking for it. So the scorecard made policy is very good. It doesn’t always get implemented well, so one
that data available, but they didn’t make it available for all of the of the things that CUE has been doing is holding institutes to help
indicators that are in the scorecard. community colleges write plans that are race conscious.
The other issue is that in order for a scorecard to be usable, it has Dr. Zamani-Gallaher: Can you share examples of some of the
to have both numbers and percentages. Percentages don’t mean race-conscious plans, practices, and successful programs that are
much without the numbers. And the scorecard is only based on advancing equity? And then how might we get to the point where we
percentages. This is all to say that the scorecard is no longer going to could scale those up?
be used in California. They’re creating something that is much more Dr. Bensimon: One of the things that we did is have these institutes
institutional friendly, because those tools don’t get used if they’re in March. And based on the theory of our work, we believe it is
hard to make sense of them. important to scaffold. The reason we created those data portfolios
But the way I think about racial equity is that one dimension of was because we knew it was better for them to see it and to see the
it is accountability. And by that I mean that institutions should steps you take to make those calculations rather than just saying make
think about equity from a proportional perspective. Rather than 35% your goal. The other component of the plan that we scaffolded
comparing the success rates of, let’s say black students or Latinx is the actual plan. We created what a plan, or at least part of the plan,
students to whites or Asians, as it often is, the indicator should be might look like. And the way we started it was by saying we as a
proportionality. What I mean by that is that if 60% of students in campus don’t know how to do racial equity, so for us to address this,
an institution are Latinx, then the expectation should be that you we need to learn. We need to learn how to see microaggressions; we
would see that 60% in other outcomes. For instance, if we wanted need to see how whiteness may be an obstacle to our racial equity
to look at the students who transferred to highly selective four-year work. And some of our campuses are taking that model and they are
colleges, even if there were only 20 that did so, I would expect that using it to write their plans.
60% of those 20 would be Latinx. But we don’t look at data in those
6 UPDATE - FALL 2019
And not everybody is going to be able to do that because they’re Dr. Zamani-Gallaher: “Reclaiming my time.”
going to get pushback because it was very explicit about whiteness, Dr. Bensimon: Exactly. To stop a white male from trying to silence
about racialization, about institutional racism. And so that’s one of her.
the ways in which community college practitioners can begin to say Dr. Zamani-Gallaher: Is there a call to action or advice you can share
we really don’t know how to do this, but we’re going to learn. on how to engage in and advance racially just equitable education for
But what happens is that most practitioners, most leaders, most diverse youth and adults?
policymakers, most philanthropical organizations do not acknowledge Dr. Bensimon: One call that I would make is for leaders—including
that they don’t really know what it means to perform racial equity. minoritized leaders, because often they don’t do this either—to start
And so that’s what we’re trying to focus on and giving the colleges to normalize racial equity, just as we have normalized excellence. Let
the language. I should also say that in the community colleges, there us normalize racial equity and talk about it, talk about it directly.
is a concentration of professionals who are themselves black, Latinx, And don’t try to use euphemisms to talk about racial groups.
and Native American, and Asian American. And our work, in some The second thing is that in order to be able to do that well, you
ways, empowers them. They become knowledgeable on how to use need to be educated. And educated means reading the black and
data. That data portfolio was a big deal when they took it back to the Latinx and Asian and Native American intellectuals, which often
campus because they could show it to the institutional researchers are unknown. We have all kinds of national programs of leadership
who usually hoard data. So they feel empowered with the language development for college presidents, for new presidents, for academic
we give them to be able to advocate at their campuses because often vice presidents. The curricular of those programs do not have a focus
the people who are doing this work, they get marginalized in the on racial equity as critical. And when I say racial equity as critical, I
same way that students of color get marginalized. think that there needs to be a recognition of how institutionalized
Dr. Zamani-Gallaher: In your work you contend that the ultimate racism gets reproduced every day in minute ways.
goal is not to just make marginal changes in policy or practices but Dr. Zamani-Gallaher: So mundane that it’s not recognizable.
to have a whole paradigm campus shift toward cultures of inclusion Dr. Bensimon: Exactly. And to stop saying to individuals who bring
and broad ownership over racial equity. Could you share insights on up those issues that they make everything about race. We actually
reclaiming the racial justice meaning of equity? As you said, that is make everything about whiteness, but we just don’t mention it. I
something that is very necessary. would also say to be more bold, to stop being afraid to be offensive.
Dr. Bensimon: To start, we’re all a product of our eras. I came of age Dr. Zamani-Gallaher: That is quite the call to action. I really
in the ‘60s. I remember 1968 very clearly. And that was the height appreciate you sharing that food for thought and dropping these
of not only the civil rights movement, but also the birth of the Black pearls of wisdom.
Panthers, the Young Lords in New York City, and that movement
was very much about racial equity. It was not about diversity. Cliff Eboni M. Zamani-Gallaher, PhD can be reached at
Adelman, who recently died, once wrote an article about diversity in [email protected]
Change Magazine and said we’re whitewashing diversity. And I felt Estela Mara Bensimon, PhD can be reached at
that suddenly, now, nobody talked about equity when I started this [email protected]
work. In fact, it was a dirty word. It was seen as too activist. So now
it has been embraced. It’s everywhere.
So for me, the reclaiming of racial justice is to not allow for equity to
be just a word that you sprinkle like salt in a meal. It’s a critical term.
Equity is about dismantling whiteness, and so for me the reclaiming
of racial equity is to not allow the word equity to become about
everything, like diversity became about everything. And to not allow
it to be stripped of its critical dimension.
In the 1960s, we also had the culture of poverty, and we had This interview was part of OCCRL’s Democracy’s College podcast series,
sociologists. Patrick Monahan was senator and Oscar Lewis was an which focuses on P-20 education pathways and research and leadership
anthropologist, and they sort of demonized the black and Puerto that promotes educational equity, justice, and excellence for all students.
Rican and Mexican American communities as having this culture that
was a culture not conducive to their success, so they had to be fixed.
And we don’t have the culture of poverty anymore as a language, but
many of the reforms in higher education, which tend to be structural
reforms, I think have the potential to become a modern version of the
culture of poverty. In other words, we’re trying to increase graduation
rates for minoritized students, but those improvements are being, in
many ways, designed in the same vein as culture of poverty by white
minds, based on what they think the solution is. So that’s one of the
reasons why I wrote an article in Change Magazine, which has the
title “Reclaiming Racial Justice in Equity.” And the term reclaiming
comes from Maxine Waters, who used the phrase -
UPDATE - FALL 2019 7
RACIAL REALITIES OF
by Chaddrick D. James-Gallaway
OCCRL Research Associate
C ampus climate has the racialized campus climate also known as historically Black society (Bell, 1992). As such,
been defined in a at community colleges community colleges (Beach, the foundation of the U.S.
multitude of ways, (Baber,Zamani-Gallaher, 2011). Although community education system was founded
from students’ attitudes, Stevenson, & Porter, 2019). colleges were the least restrictive on racial exclusion and racism
perceptions, and beliefs about Race Matters and Community higher education institutions, permeates college campuses
their campus (Tierney, 1990) to Colleges they still were not adequately (Ladson-Billings, 1998; Ladson-
the summation of the objectives Until the founding of U.S. serving racially minoritized Billings & Tate, 1995; Patton,
and perceptions of the campus junior colleges, most of higher students from the 1960s through Harper & Harris, 2015). African
climate (Peterson & Spencer, education had been restricted the 1980s, since gaining access Americans have particularly
1990). Campus climate can for the White elite (Zamani- did not mean being exempt faced covert and overt forms of
also be made up of the merging Gallaher, 2016). The historical from racism on campus, finding racism from faculty, students,
structural and institutional mission of junior colleges/ inclusive spaces, or achieving and staff on predominately
diversity or the behavioral and community colleges was to create equitable outcomes. White campuses (Smith et al.,
psychological climate (Hurtado, a system of higher education Differential Perceptions 2016).
Milem, Clayton-Pederson, & that any and every person could of Campus Climate and Research has repeatedly found
Allen, 1998) or the overall ethos access. However, community Experiences by Race that racially minoritized
and atmosphere reflected in the colleges were also stratified like According to Hurtado, Milem, students and White students
sense of belonging, engagement, their four-year higher education Clayton-Pederson, and Allen, view their campus climates
and safety often reflected in counterparts, founded through (1998), “Most institutions, in completely different ways
the institutional mission and systemic racism (e.g., historically when considering diversity (Harper & Hurtado, 2007).
identity (Renn & Patton, 2010). Black community colleges) and on campus, tend to focus on Students of color (primarily
Hence, if the campus climate is evolved during legal Jim Crow increasing the numbers of African American) cite
found to be chilly, debilitating, segregation. racial/ethnic students” (p. 281). campus climates as racist,
malicious, and/or antagonistic Community colleges emerged While it is important to focus prejudiced, discriminatory,
to students of color, they are and were commonly referenced on increasing the number of and less accepting of their
adversely impacted (Hurtado, as the people’s colleges in lieu students of color on campus, it racial identities, whereas White
2002; Vacacaro, 2010). of two-year institutions created is also imperative that students students do not hold similarly
Much of the research on campus to serve freed slaves that were of color are provided with a negative experiences or feelings
climate is focused on four-year underfunded and under- welcoming and supportive of racially hostile campus
institutions while there is a resourced institutions, most campus climate. Racism is climates (Rankin & Reason,
dearth of literature on campus notably Negro Junior Colleges, culturally ubiquitous; it is 2005; Smith et al, 2016; Smith,
climate and especially little on the foundation of the U.S. Yosso, & Solórzano, 2006).
Studies have shown that African
8 UPDATE - FALL 2019
American students have less 2002). Racial microaggressions al. 2016; Franklin, Smith, & designed to help students learn
collegiate satisfaction and the are also at the root of racial Hung, 2014; Smith, Hung, & about their own and others’
lowest levels of fulfillment tensions, and an antecedent in Franklin, 2011). social and racial identities
in terms of treatment based many respects. While some research finds that and interracial differences.
on race, in comparison with Racial Microaggressions and students of color that navigate Programs may also address the
other racial groups on college College Students historically white institutions historic and current state of
campuses (Ancis, Sedlacek, & Racial microaggressions are have positive interracial relations racial relations in society and
Mohr, 2000; Suarez-Balcazar et conscious and unconscious (Matlock, Gurin & Wade- on campus and the possibilities
al., 2003). forms of colorblind racism Golden, 2002), other studies of more productive and
that affect the mental health of report racial microaggressions egalitarian learning conditions,
More than half of all their victims (Smith et al, 2016; and racial stereotyping as intergroup relationships,
undergraduates attend Smith, Hung, & Franklin, 2011; common experiences of students and joint actions for change
community colleges and well Smith, Yosso, & Solórzano, of color (Solórzano, Ceja & (Gallaway & Zamani-Gallaher,
over half of African American 2006). Racial microaggressions Yosso, 2000; Feagin, Vera & 2018).
and Latinx students in higher can mirror aversive (avoidance) Imani, 1993). Many students of
education are enrolled in racism and are present color risk damaging their self- Concluding Thoughts
community colleges (Baber, underneath the awareness of esteem and racial identity when
Zamani-Gallaher, Stevenson, “well-intentioned people” (Sue, they answer questions about race Racism is an aspect of society
& Porter, 2019). Because the 2010). Students of color often or have race-based interactions that can have overt and covert
number of students of color in face racial microaggressions that that they perceive as ignorant, constraints on community
community colleges is high, it are inadvertent, unintended, uneducated, and/or insensitive college campuses for racially
is imperative that community and unconscious. (Feagin, Vera & Imani, 1993). minoritized groups. Community
colleges, their programs, and Studies of racial microaggression Students of color often must college campuses, professionals,
their policies promote racial in college students state learn how to accommodate to, and students need to understand
parity and equity. One means that racial microaggressions or negotiate with, the dominant how racial dynamics exist
in which many campuses can on college campuses exist at White culture while explaining and impact administration,
declare a mission of diversity, alarming rates and typically in tandem to White students faculty, staff, and students.
equity, and inclusion is by hiring result in students of color what it is like to be racialized Lacking attention to detail in
a diverse faculty that represents showing signs of poor and minoritized (Feagin, Vera terms of racial dynamics on
the student population. Sadly, mental health and academic & Imani, 1993). Navigating a community college campus
African American and Latinx performance (McCabe, 2009; mainstream dominant White can have detrimental effects
faculty are disproportionally Torres, Driscoll, & Burrow, culture and enduring racial for campus climate, which can
hired on predominantly White 2010; Solórzano, Ceja, & Yosso, microaggressions contributes to create a space that is unwelcome
two and four-year college 2000). The “social-psychological racialized role strain, which is for people of color. Focusing on
campuses (Bower, 2002). stress” that is induced by racial taxing on student well-being, lessoning and addressing racial
Racially minoritized faculty microaggressions is known as retention, persistence and microaggressions, as well as
and students experience racism, racial battle fatigue, defined perceptions of campus climate other forms of microaggressions,
prejudice, and discrimination in as experiencing physical (Bowman & Smith, 2002; is a foundational step toward
academia as higher education and mental reactions due to Hurtado, Milem, Clayton- creating a hospitable and
institutions parallel race-based racialized stressors (Smith et Pederson, & Allen, 1998). In the equitable campus climate for all
issues in society, which are often face of these racial challenges, constituents of a campus.
the source of tensions in race many colleges and universities
relations (Bowman & Smith, have developed programs
Chaddrick D. James-Gallaway can be reached at [email protected]
UPDATE - FALL 2019 9
Research has repeatedly
found that racially
and White students view
their campus climates in
completely different ways.
10 UPDATE - FALL 2019
Ancis, J. R., Sedlacek, W. E., & Mohr, J. J. (2000). Student perceptions of campus cultural climate by race. Journal of Counseling and
Counseling Development, 78, 180-185.
Baber, L. D., Zamani-Gallaher, E. M., Stevenson, T. N., & Porter, J. (2019). From access to equity: Community colleges and the social justice
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Bell, D. A. (1992). Racial Realism, Connecticut Law Review, 24(2), 363-379.
Bowman, P. J., & Smith, W. A. (2002). Racial ideology in the campus community. In W. A. Smith, P. G. Altbach, & K. Lomotey (Eds.), The
racial crisis in American higher education (Rev. ed., pp. 121-136). Albany: State University of New York Albany.
Bower, B. L. (2002). Campus life for faculty of color: Still strangers after all these years? New Directions for Community Colleges, 79-88.
Feagin, J. R., Vera, H., & Imani, N. (1993). The agony of education: Black students at white colleges and universities. New York: Routledge.
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for Student Services, 120, 7-24. doi:10.1002/ss.254.
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Qualitative Studies in Education, 11(1), 7-24.
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UPDATE - FALL 2019 11
Smith, W. A., Hung, M., & Franklin, J, D. (2011). Racial battle fatigue and the “mis”education of black men: Racial microaggressions,
societal problems, and environmental stress. Journal of Negro Education, 80(1), 63-82.
Smith, W. A., Yosso, T. J., & Solórzano, D. G. (2006). Challenging racial battle fatigue on historically white campuses: A critical race
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327). Boston, MA: Anker Publishing. doi: 10.1080/09518398.2016.1214296.
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accountability in educational administration. Educational Administration Quarterly, 43, 559-585.
Solórzano, D., Ceja, M., & Yosso, T. (2000). Critical race theory, racial microaggressions, and campus racial climate: The experiences of
African American college students. Journal of Negro Education, 69, 60-73.
Suarez-Balcazar, Y., Orellana-Damacela, L., Portillo, N., Rowan, J. M., & Andrews-Guillen, C. (2003). Experiences of differential treatment
among college students of color. The Journal of Higher Education, 74(4), 428-444. Sue, D.W. (2010). Microaggressions in everyday life:
Race, gender, and sexual orientation. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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Torres, L., Driscoll, M. W., ^ Burrow, A. L., (2010). Racial microaggressions and psychological functioning among highly achieving African
Americans: A mixed-methods approach. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 29, 1074-1099. doi: 10.1521/jscp.2010.29.10.1074.
Vaccaro, A. (2010). What lies beneath seemingly positive campus climate results: Institutional sexism, racism, and male hostility toward
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Zamani-Gallaher, E. M. (2016). Community colleges and the massification of higher education. In P. Nuno Teixeira and J. Cheol Shin (Eds.),
Encyclopedia of International Higher Education Systems and Institutions. New York: Springer.
ENGAGING EXCELLENCE IN EQUITY FELLOWS:
How Equity Exemplars Support Racially Minoritized Students at Community Colleges
by Raina Dyer-Barr, PhD
OCCRL Project Coordinator
12 UPDATE - FALL 2019
One component of the two-day convenings (April,
Office of Community June, and August) in which
College Research they would work collaboratively
and Leadership’s (OCCRL) as subject-matter experts to
Equity Conscious Community contribute to the knowledge
College Pathways (EC3P) base of the best culturally
project (funded by the Bill & responsive practices to serve
Melinda Gates Foundation) and support underrepresented,
is its Engaging Excellence in racially minoritized students
Equity Fellowship. In the Fall at community colleges. In
of 2018, OCCRL identified addition, fellows would be
100 community colleges via charged with developing a
an analysis of U.S. Census virtual Embedding Equity
American Community Survey Toolkit comprised of these best
(ACS) and National Center for practices, as well as strategies
Educational Statistics Integrated for navigating barriers and with the goal of fostering equity most of them did not necessarily
Postsecondary Education Data challenges to equity-minded at their campuses. even use those specific terms
System (IPEDS) data as equity policies and practices specific to to describe their practices.
exemplars in that they served the community college context. The Engaging Excellence in Nevertheless, the descriptions of
one or more racially minoritized After an extensive nomination Equity Fellows participated in their practices aligned with what
group exceptionally well with and selection process, OCCRL three convenings held in Chicago are typically termed culturally
respect to enrollment and announced its inaugural cohort in April, June, and August of responsive practices. Specifically,
associate degree completion of 18 Engaging Excellence in 2019. The first meeting was not the fellows described the various
rates. The purpose of this Equity Fellows in February only an opportunity to begin ways that they supported the
process of identifying these 2019. The cohort of fellows the foundational work necessary development of their students’
community colleges was to was very diverse with respect to for developing the Embedding cultural and ethnic identities on
subsequently invite a subgroup gender (eight males, 10 females), Equity Toolkit, but it was also campus and in the classroom,
of institutions to nominate up race/ethnicity (eight African a chance for the fellows to get and how they worked to ensure
to two education professionals Americans, seven Caucasians, to know one another. Fellows that students felt the experiences
to become Engaging Excellence two Latinos, and one Asian/ reflected on their roles and shared and knowledge they brought to
in Equity Fellows. Pacific Islander), geography their experiences, motivations, campus with them were valid,
(fellows hailed from New York, challenges, and strategies for important, and useful for their
Nominations were restricted New Jersey, Pennsylvania, navigating obstacles in their educational success.
to practitioners in either Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, efforts to support racially “I am an advocate for
leadership and supervisory roles Illinois, North Carolina, minoritized students in an these students. I listen to
(i.e., administrators) who were Louisiana, California, Utah, and equity-minded manner. Several their stories and ensure
responsible for implementing Washington), and institutional important themes emerged their voices are heard. I
policies that foster equitable roles (13 administrators, two from the activities and in-depth use my experience, data,
outcomes for racially student affairs practitioners, conversations fellows engaged in research, and compassion
minoritized students or those in and three faculty members). during the first convening. to make changes to policies
direct service roles (i.e., faculty While the cohort was diverse, and practices that create
and staff) who utilized culturally its members had one important First, culturally responsive barriers for students of
responsive practices to support thing in common: their practices were foundational to color and other minoritized
racially minoritized students demonstrated commitment to the fellows’ success in supporting populations”
from enrollment through supporting underrepresented, underrepresented, racially
completion. Selected fellows racially minoritized students minoritized students. Culturally - Aubria Nance, Engaging
would then participate in three responsive practices are often Excellence in Equity Fellow
considered the domain of A second theme that emerged
teachers, instructors, and faculty highlighted the striking
mainly due to their origins in similarities in the motivations
culturally responsive pedagogy for why the fellows were doing
as introduced by Gloria the work they were doing—
Ladson-Billings nearly 25 years serving and supporting racialized
ago as a way of teaching that minorities at community college
intentionally centers the cultures campuses. In describing how
and experiences of groups they came to be doing this work,
that have traditionally been most of the fellows expressed an
excluded. However, these equity affinity for working with this
exemplars utilized culturally particular population because of
responsive practices seemingly
intuitively, so much so that
UPDATE - FALL 2019 13
similar personal backgrounds— A third notable theme that “The biggest support to Ultimately, the amount of
racially/ethnically, culturally, emerged from the fellows’ in- [my] success has been similarities in the fellows’
or economically. Fellows depth conversations was their the administration/ experiences, strategies, and
frequently mentioned that they repeated references to the role of leadership of our motivations in their work with
empathized with these students their institutions in helping them institution which underrepresented, racially
because they had experienced support racially minoritized also values our efforts minoritized students was a
similar circumstances of being students. They generally to support racially pleasant surprise. Their stories
a racially minoritized student, discussed this role in one of minoritized students. We also served as confirmation
a low-income student, or a two ways: 1) they either raved have gotten resources— that this cohort was the perfect
first-generation college student. about the institutional support financial, personnel, and group to serve as content experts
Fellows were motivated by they received to do their specific spatial—to pilot new in the future development of
trying to help these students jobs well or 2) they described projects in an effort to the Embedding Equity Toolkit.
navigate the institution and how the lack of institutional improve success metrics.” Their specific knowledge,
the challenges and barriers support negatively impacted expertise, and commitment
that students from racially their ability to do their job well. - Sarah Wolfe, Engaging is precisely what is necessary
minoritized groups often face— Whichever camp the fellows Excellence in Equity Fellow to build an effective and
and some of the same ones they aligned with, what was readily Conversely, fellows who useful toolkit comprised of
themselves encountered during apparent was that institutional described a lack of institutional culturally responsive tools
their academic journey. support—which they mostly support often referred to an aimed at supporting successful
“I thought about why referred to as “institutional buy- unwillingness by leadership and equitable educational
I believe I’m successful in”—was critical to serving this to adequately acknowledge or outcomes for underserved
in supporting...racially population of students well and address the specific concerns racially minoritized students
minoritized students. in an equitable manner. and needs of racially minoritized at community colleges. The
And I feel like it begins Fellows who felt their groups. Fellows described how Embedding Equity Toolkit will
with my upbringing in institutions were committed to this nonchalant attitude at the be released in early 2020.
Kansas City...Now I’m in supporting racially minoritized top often affected the campus
California and because I students described institutional and made it difficult for them
am Mexican people assume leadership that readily and to collaborate with other
that I’m able to connect consistently provided funding campus members—especially
with those [Mexican] and other resources like space faculty—to best serve these
students...But I often and equipment for programs students. Nonetheless, these
tell people, ‘I don’t speak and initiatives targeted toward fellows appeared to use the
Spanish. I didn’t grow up these students. Additionally, lack of institutional buy-in as
the way these folks grew these institutions not only had motivation to continuously
up. I’m really culturally clear strategic goals and plans push their institutions towards
different in a lot of ways in place that articulated their making changes to policies and
than these people.” But commitment to equity and practices so that they were more
I feel like my ability to diversity, but also leadership equitable for racially minoritized
empathize and to try to that actively demonstrated the students.
engage with them on a same commitment. “Some of the orthodoxies
personal level has always that a handful of our
helped me in supporting faculty and/or staff have Raina Dyer-Barr, PhD
students.” sometimes makes it can be reached at
difficult to do this work. [email protected]
- Joseph Alonzo, Engaging For example, the idea that
Excellence in Equity Fellow it is wrong to focus on a
single student population,
or the misconception that
we are engaging in “reverse
racism” through our work.
Some departments tend to
be territorial and can be
hard to collaborate with
when it comes to working
as a team to change the
culture of our institution
and becom[ing] a more
- Richard Diaz, Engaging
Excellence in Equity Fellow
14 UPDATE - FALL 2019
INEQUITIES IN EDUCATIONAL
OPPORTUNITIES AND FUNDING
by HyeJin (Tina) Yeo and Dr. William Trent
“Education, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of
men, the balance wheel of the social machinery.” – Horace Mann
In the “land of opportunity,” many Americans are taught to believe in success through education. However, educational access and quality
are unevenly resourced producing and perpetuating inequality across diverse groups. Today’s educational pipeline arguably has broadened
participation however arguably more prevalent are inequitable experiences and outcomes for scores of students – especially those from
low-income and racially minoritized communities.
Educational inequality as we define it, is the unequal distribution of academic resources such as limited access to qualified and experienced
teachers, lesser-quality educational materials curriculum, and information resources. By contrast, educational inequity results from the
everyday and cumulative effects of inequalities in P-20 education. Additionally, lacking school facilities and environments, inadequate
funding, fewer human resources, lagging educational technologies that support learning in and out of school.
Our children’s learning process begins early and starts before a child enters formal schooling. Likewise, educational inequities are a consequence
of the lacking early education. Two conditions related to educational inequity and systemic disadvantages are poverty and race. Poverty
involves complicated historical, social, and political issues regarding neighborhood and residential patterns, educational system, financial
structures, and political and civic engagement. As such, educational inequality persists across generations and minoritized status, namely
by race and ethnicity. This article describes how educational funding inequality manifests in the P-20 pipeline and describes its impact on
students’ quality of education producing inequitable student outcomes as well as highlights funding issues in Illinois.
Inequality by Race and Socioeconomic Status
Studies show that the poverty rate of individuals is highly related to race and ethnicity. Racially minoritized children are more likely to
experience poverty and face many barriers to attaining a higher level of education. In 2016 there were 40.6 million (12.7%) Americans living
in poverty. Specifically, 22% of Blacks/African Americans, 19.4% Hispanics/Latinxs, 10.1% Asians, and 8.8% White non-Hispanics were
poor (Semega, Fontenot, & Kollar, 2017). During the 2015-16 school year, 17.3% public high schools were classified as high-poverty schools
where at least three-quarters of the students were poor as indicated by eligibility for free or reduced-price lunch. Additionally, 14.3% (nearly
1.8 million students) attended high-poverty high schools.
Public high schools with a relatively large proportion of students experiencing poverty tend to have a higher proportion of minoritized
students (e.g., racial/ethnic minority, English learners, and students with disabilities); high-poverty high schools were largely made up of
Black/African American and Hispanic students, whereas low-poverty schools predominantly consisted of White students (GAO, 2018).
Studies also reveal that the effects of socioeconomic status (SES) are cumulative and long-lasting on developing cognitive and non-cognitive
skills. Identified skills include social skills, motivation, and attitudes. Studies identify these factors as the main determinants of differences
in educational opportunities and outcomes (Boocock, 1980; Bowen, Kurzweil, & Tobin, 2005; Darling-Hammond, 2010). It is not an
exaggeration to say that life opportunities of young people are shaped by their parents’ income and education. For example, children who fail
in school are more likely to have parents with lower education levels and to be from a family with a lower SES or an under-resourced home
environment. They are less likely to become involved in activities that would lead to success in school (Boocock, 1980).
In addition, readiness for advanced educational levels (e.g., going to college) may be an issue for disadvantaged and minoritized students
because they are oftentimes not encouraged to think about college, to take college preparatory courses, or to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test
(SAT) or American College Test (ACT) tests for college admission. According to Bowen et al. (2005), students’ test scores are also related
to family SES and parental education. For example, in terms of testing patterns and SAT scores, 55% of students whose parents had lower
education levels (having no more than a high school diploma) took the SAT. By comparison, 77% of students whose parents had higher
education levels took the SAT. Moreover, students of parents with no more than a high school diploma scored 200 points lower than students
of parents with college degrees (Bowen et al., 2005).
Students lacking financial support are eight times less likely to graduate from college than other students without heavy financial burdens
(Levine, 1995). Moreover, 75% of students within the top income quartile completed a college degree. By comparison, 8.6% of students
1Following Harper’s (2012) principle, I use “minoritized” instead of “minority” throughout this paper to “signify the social construction of underrepresentation and subordination in U.S. social
institutions, including colleges and universities” (p.9).
UPDATE - FALL 2019 15
within the lowest income quartile completed a college degree (c.f., 28% from the third quartile and about 13% from the second quartile).
Many people in the lowest-income quartile identify as racial minority students (Ballantine & Hammack, 2011).
Educational Inequality in School Funding
The percentage of all K-12 public schools with high percentages of poor and Black or Hispanic students has grown to 16% in 2013-2014
from 9% in 2000-2001. Those schools have 75% to 100% of Black or Hispanic students who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches
(GAO, 2016, 2018). Figure 1 illustrates the rate of children under age 18 who were in families living in poverty based on the official poverty
measure by race/ethnicity from 2000 to 2014. In 2014, approximately 15 million(21%) children under the age of 18 were in families living
in poverty, which was an increase compared to 2000 (16%). The increased percentages of children living in poverty were higher for Black
(37%) and Hispanic children (31%).
Figure 1. Percentage of children under age 18 in families living in poverty based on the official poverty measure by race/ethnicity:
2000 through 2014.
Note. In 2000 and 2001, Asian includes Pacific Islanders as well as Asians. Data are based on sample surveys of the civilian noninstitutional
population. Total includes other racial/ethnic groups not separately shown, including Pacific Islander, American Indian/Alaska Native, and
two or more races. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. The official poverty measure consists of a set of thresholds for
families of different sizes and compositions that are compared to before-tax cash income to determine a family’s poverty status.
Source: Status and trends in the education of racial and ethnic groups 2017 (NCES2017-051).
Figure 2. Student demographics in public high schools across poverty levels for the 2015-16 school year.
16 UPDATE - FALL 2019
Note. High schools are divided into four quartiles based on the percent of students in a school that was eligible for free or reduced-price
lunch as follows: schools with 0 to 24.9 percent of students in poverty (low-poverty), schools with 25 to 49.9 percent of students in poverty,
schools with 50 to 74.9 percent of students in poverty, and schools with 75 to 100 percent of students in poverty (high-poverty). Source:
GAO analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Common Core of Data and the Civil Rights Data Collection for school year
These students with different race and socioeconomic backgrounds appear to attend different schools with disparate resources. Educational
resources include school facilities, the quality of teachers, diverse curriculum, curricular and extra-curricular programs, and forms of college
and career counseling. Access to such resources are determined by school funding based on state and local funding formulas and local property
taxes, which has long been a tradition of funding in American public schools (The Education Trust, 2018; Verstegen, 2011). In fact, schools
in the highest poverty districts and that serve the most students of color received less resources and less money than districts serving the fewest
students living in poverty and students of color (GAO, 2018; The Education Trust, 2018). For example, the highest-poverty districts receive
about $1,000, or 7%, less per student than the lowest-poverty districts. The differences are almost twice as large between districts serving the
most students of color and those serving the fewest (The Education Trust, 2018). These missing funds could be used for improving crucial
factors that influence students’ performance and outcomes such as early childhood care, smaller class sizes, college readiness programs, addi-
tional school counselors, and higher-quality teachers (Darling-Hammond, 2010).
Such funding gaps can best be termed a fundamental opportunity gap. Research provides substantial evidence that levels of income and
race are generally associated with student educational outcomes. Figures below show disparities in academic curricular of STEM courses,
Advanced Placement (AP) courses, and Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) programs between schools with high poverty and students
of color and schools with low poverty and students of color (Figure 3-1). The greatest differences in math courses are shown in seventh- or
eighth-grade algebra and calculus, which are critical to preparing students for college (Figure 3-2). Similarly, in science courses, schools with
high poverty and Black or Hispanic students offered a lot fewer physics courses than counterpart schools. The lower percentage of schools
with high poverty and Black or Hispanic students offered more physics courses (Figure 3-3).
Figure 3-1. Math and science courses offered in public high schools by school poverty level for school year 2015-16. Source: GAO analysis of data from the U.S.
Department of Education’s Common Core of Data and the Civil Rights Data Collection for school year 2015-2016 (GAO-19-8).
Regarding AP courses offered, the big disparities concurrently grew with school poverty level as well (Figure 4-1). Differences in AP courses offered between
schools with high poverty and Black or Hispanic students and schools with low poverty and Black or Hispanic students were greatest (Figure 4-2). Although
the percentage of high-poverty schools offering STEM and AP courses have generally increased since 2011, the gap between low- and high-poverty schools
was still widened to nearly 35% differences (GAO, 2016, 2018). In addition, high-poverty schools with a larger proportion of Black or Hispanic students
offered fewer of the courses that prepare students for colleges and universities (GAO, 2016, 2018).
UPDATE - FALL 2019 17
Figure 3-2. Percentage of middle and high schools offering selected math courses for school year 2011-12. Note. 7th or 8th Alg.= 7th or 8th grade Algebra, Alg.II =
Algebra II, Geom.= Geometry, Calc.= Calculus.
Source: GAO analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Common Core of Data and the Civil Rights Data Collection for school year 2011-
Figure 3-3. Percentage of middle and high schools offering selected sciences courses for school year 2011-12. Source: GAO analysis of data from the U.S. Department
of Education’s Common Core of Data and the Civil Rights Data Collection for school year 2011-2012 (GAO-16-345).
18 UPDATE - FALL 2019
Figure 4-1. Number of different advanced placement (AP) courses offered in public high schools by school poverty level for school year 2015-16. Source: GAO analysis
of data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Common Core of Data and the Civil Rights Data Collection for school year 2015-2016 (GAO-19-8).
Figure 4-2. Percentage of schools offering advanced placement (AP) courses and Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) programs for school year 2011-12. Source:
GAO analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Common Core of Data and the Civil Rights Data Collection for school year 2011-2012 (GAO-16-
UPDATE - FALL 2019 19
It is true that the academic excellence of low-income, first-generation, and minoritized college students has improved substantially since the
1960s (Bowen et al., 2005). However, inequitable school- funding practices hinder full engagement in the P-20 educational pipeline for
racially minoritized and economically disadvantaged students. Indeed, the pathways to higher education are polarized and separated between
SES strata (Bastedo & Jaquette, 2011). Bastedo and Jaquette (2011) found that students from higher SES made stronger gains in academic
achievement over the same period while the proportion of low SES students in selective institutions remained constant since 1972. Specifi-
cally, postsecondary attendance rates for low SES students increased, but it is highly concentrated in community colleges and noncompetitive
four-year institutions. This finding has been replicated in other studies. Across all achievement levels, students from the lowest SES groups are
less likely to apply for or to attend college. They are also much less likely to apply to selective institutions than students from the highest SES
groups (Ballantine & Hammack, 2011; Perna & Titus, 2004).
Funding Inequality and Community College
The highly differentiated and stratified U.S. higher education system, comprised of nearly 1,050 public community colleges (941 public, 35
tribal, and 75 independent institutions; American Association of Community Colleges, 2019), as an extension of the K-12 system, provide
both academic and vocational programs. Community colleges, many operating as open-access postsecondary organizations, contribute to
individual mobility by enhancing workforce preparation and educational attainment through college transfer and economic development
(Cohen, 2014; Dougherty, 2014, printed in Zamani-Gallaher, 2014). Community colleges facilitate access to and success in postsecondary
education, especially for Black and Hispanic students who are their majority student population. From the G.I. Bill and the Higher Education
Act of 1965, the enrollment in public community colleges has grown to approximately seven million in the fall of 2017 (American Associ-
ation of Community Colleges, 2019). There is a tendency to think that most underserved, minoritized students start their postsecondary
education at community colleges, and the statistics prove this to be true. About 44% of low-income students with family incomes of less than
$25,000 per year are first-time college students who enrolled in a community college in 2010; 20% were students with disabilities (National
Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, 2011). Demographically, 56% of Hispanic students, 44% of Black students, and 40% of
Asian students enrolled in the public two-year sector in 2014 (Ma & Baum, 2016).
In the American systems of higher education, however, community colleges command the lowest level of prestige. Also, students are stratified
by race/ethnicity, or SES, in stratified education systems (Ballantine & Hammack, 2011; Bowen et al., 2005). Moreover, lower graduation
rates at community colleges are a major concern. About 20% of full-time students in a public community college earn an associate degree or
a certificate within three years, compared to about 60% of students at four-year colleges and universities who earned a bachelor degree within
six years (Hosansky, 2015). Further, there is a strong correlation between graduation and completion rates and the likelihood of employment,
which in turn perpetuates the large socioeconomic divide (Carnevale & Strohl, 2013; Hosansky, 2015). In this regard, lowering the barriers
that prevent students from continuing their education is significant in order to raise completion and graduation rates in community colleges
(Kotamraju & Blackman, 2011). One of the biggest barriers would be the costs.
The educational costs for postsecondary education have increased dramatically and federal loan limits are too low to fully cover expensive
tuition and fees and living costs, particularly for underserved minoritized students. The majority of lower-income students who enroll in
public community colleges receive benefits from the federal and state direct student aid resources, but only marginally so. (Alexander, 2002).
Arguably, it is because of shifting from student grants to loans, a pattern of cost escalation , and inequitable distribution of the resources. In
spite of these issues, most low-income students attend public community colleges.
Only 12% of lower-income students at public community colleges received state grant aid. In contrast, 42% of lower-income students from
comparable economic backgrounds attending private non-profit two-year institutions and 24% of students attending proprietary two-year
institutions received state grant student aid and received disproportionately larger average aid awards (Alexander, 2002). In 2016-17, public
two-year college students received 34% of the available Pell Grant funds, and students received less than their proportionate share of funds
from all other federal student-aid programs (The College Board, 2018).
Goldrick-Rab and Kelly (2016) argued “tuition and fees are the price of access — living costs are the price of success (p. 56).” According to
a nationwide survey conducted by the Hope Center in 2018, one in three students at community colleges experiences hunger, while 48% of
survey respondents in community colleges reported having food insecurity. Sixty percent of the respondents reported experiencing housing
insecurity (The Hope Center, 2019). Worse still, 13 to 14% of community college students are homeless and half of the students reported
having food insecurity in 2015 (Brown, 2017; College Promise Campaign, 2017). Demographic disparities revealing such basic needs were
shown as well. For example, the overall rate of food insecurity among participants identifying as Black/African American was 59%. It was
62% among American Indian or Alaskan Natives, and 51% for Hispanic/Latinx students. These rates are approximately 15 to 20% higher
than the overall rate of White students (43%) (The Hope Center, 2019). Given these disparities, more aggressive and equitable policies and
programs of financial aid for minoritized students are necessary. The educational opportunity lost by minoritized students are taken into
account as the lost of social benefits from higher education (e.g., economic development, job security, lower poverty rate, reduction in crime,
etc.) (McMahon, 2009; Trostel & Smith, 2015).
Educational Funding Challenges in Illinois
Under the previous funding formula, Illinois public schools relied heavily on the revenue from local property taxes (approximately 60%),
28% from the state and 12% from the federal government (Houston, 2018). Despite increased education for education during the past 10
years, “Illinois ranked lowest among states in the percentage of revenues from state sources” (Fritts, 2012, p. 1). Such a decentralized funding
structure has led to substantial regional disparities and stratification in school funding and educational outcomes (Greene, Huerta, & Rich-
20 UPDATE - FALL 2019
ards, 2007; Lewis & Nakagawa, 1995). In turn, educational funding matters for educational upward mobility (Houston, 2018). A report
published by The Education Trust, Funding Gaps 2018, examined funding equity by race and poverty. The report compares the state and local
funding for different districts by the percentage of students in poverty and by the percentage of students of color. According to the report,
funding inequities continue to be large nationally, and a great deal of variation in allocating educational funding by states was revealed. Illinois
was noted as being among the lowest ranked in funding equity with regard to poverty and students of color (see Figure 5 and 6).
Figure 5. Gaps in state and local revenues per student between districts serving the most and the fewest students in poverty.
Note. The term progressive means states allocated more funding to the highest poverty districts. In states shaded in dark green, the highest
poverty districts received at least 15% more state and local funds than the lowest poverty districts; light green shading indicates that the
highest poverty districts received between 5% and 15% more. In states shaded in dark red, the highest poverty districts received at least 15%
less state and local funds than the lowest poverty districts; light red shading indicates that the highest poverty districts received between 5%
and 15% less. Gray shading indicates similar levels of funding for the highest and lowest poverty districts. States are ordered and classified
as providing more or less funding to their highest poverty districts based on unrounded percentages. Source: Funding gaps 2018 from the
Compared to other states, the highest poverty districts in Utah received 15% more in state and local funds, while in Illinois the highest
poverty districts received 29% less in state and local funds per student than the lowest poverty districts (Figure 5). Districts serving the most
students of color in Illinois received 18% less in state and local funds per student than districts serving the fewest students of color (Figure 6).
In other words, the districts with the highest percentages of students from low-income families and students of color received considerably
less funding. Considering nearly half of Illinois students are students of color and qualified for free and reduced-price lunches, these findings
clearly show inequitable funding practices in the state and a strong need for a more equitable approach for distributing state education dollars.
Figure 6. Gaps in state and local revenues per student between districts serving the most and the fewest students of color.
2 Cost escalation means that overall spending in higher education has grown faster than the cost of living or the national income (p. 198, Kimbal & Luke,
UPDATE - FALL 2019 21
Note. The term progressive means states allocated more funding to the highest poverty districts. In states shaded in dark green, the districts
serving the most students of color received at least 15% more state and local funds than districts serving the fewest students of color; light
green shading indicates that districts serving the most students of color received between 5% and 15% more. In states shaded in dark red, dis-
tricts serving the most students of color received at least 15% less state and local funds than districts serving the fewest students of color; light
red shading indicates that the districts serving the most students of color received between 5% and 15% less. Gray shading indicates similar
levelsof funding for the districts serving the most and fewest students of color. States are ordered and classified as providing more or less fund-
ing to their districts with the most students of color based on unrounded percentages. Source: Funding gaps 2018 from the Education Trust.
Figure 7. Student demographics in Illinois. Source: Funding gaps 2018 from the Education Trust.
Figure 8 illustrates the differences in funding between the highest and lowest poverty districts in Illinois. The highest poverty districts received
$3,380 less (22% less) per student than the lowest poverty districts. When adjusting for the additional needs of low-income students, the
gaps are even bigger: $4,281, or 29% less per student, is allocated in the highest poverty districts. Districts serving the most students of color
received $ 2,573, or 18% less per student, than districts serving the fewest students of color (Figure 9).
22 UPDATE - FALL 2019
Inequitable school funding is associated with educational
Figure 9. The amount of funding among Illinois districts serving the most and fewest pathways and upward social mobility. For example, Houston
students of color. Source: Funding gaps 2018 from the Education Trust. (2018) found a positive relationship between funding and
student outcomes, meaning the district per-pupil revenue
was a statistically significant explanatory and predictive factor
in education outcomes. More dollars spent in schools with
wealthier students and with fewer students of color in Illinois
may explain lower ACT composite and math scores as well as
the likelihood of lower postsecondary enrollment and degree
attainment in schools with larger numbers of students of color
compared to White students (Houston, 2018). In addition,
such gaps in resources in K-12 education are likely to impact
postsecondary outcomes. Students with higher ACT scores are
more likely to enroll in a postsecondary institution, especially
in a four-year institution (Houston, 2018). Other studies
show that school factors (e.g., a college-prep curriculum
and the average quality of teachers) and student factors
(such as parental income and education, GPA, and student
aspirations) are positively associated with students’ educational
achievement and attainment (Bowen et al., 2005; Dixon-
Roma, Everson, & McArdle, 2013; Palardy, 2013). Therefore,
school funding disparities can be an indicator used to estimate
the extent to which students may lose or have fewer educational
opportunities to advance their learning.
Furthermore, students with strong postsecondary credentials are more likely to be viewed as greater assets to the state (McMahon, 2009).
However, the recent state budget crisis has increased the unpredictability in higher education funding in Illinois. In 2016, 60% of students
who were eligible students for the Monetary Awards Program (MAP), one of the oldest need-based aid programs in Illinois, did not receive
funding due to the recent state budget crisis. A potentially greater problem is the substantial increase in tuition levels in Illinois. Low-income
students can only cover a small portion of tuition with MAP awards (Partnership for College Completion, 2017). Nevertheless, more than
half of first-generation, low-income students and Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino students who were awarded MAP grants are
more likely to earn a college degree at public institutions (Partnership for College Completion, 2017). Considering financial burdens are one
of the biggest barriers to persist in enrolling and completing postsecondary education (Levine, 1995), it is no exaggeration to say that MAP
grants play a significant role in educational and social mobility for low-income students in Illinois.
Under the tight state appropriations, most public higher education institutions, including community colleges, have increasingly relied
on tuition and fees as a revenue source (Baime & Baum, 2016). Such widening gaps in school funding and decreasing funding in higher
education are not Illinois’ only issues. A recent report from the Institute for Higher Education Policy (Mugglestone, Dancy, & Voight,
2019) illustrates that students from wealthier families are far more likely to get benefits from financial aid than lower-income students due
to systemic inequities in the educational funding (e.g., poor aid prioritization). Public flagship institutions nationwide are less affordable for
lower-income students. Nearly one-third of financial aid in many state or public flagship institutions goes to typically high-income students
whose family income is more than $167,000 per year (Mugglestone et al., 2019).
Changing Methods for Equitable Funding in Illinois
Inequities in school funding based on local property taxes have been pervasive in funding American public education and have been a
persisting source of inequity in the funding of Illinois public education. The soaring tuition and fees of higher education and decreasing
financial aid in Illinois are the main factors for the increasing out-migration of young adults who are opting to attend college out of state.
The enrollment of potential Illinois college students in out-of-state colleges and universities has increased by 73% since 2000 (The Illinois
Chronicle, 2018). This brain-drain issue has been caused by the volatility in state funding for higher education and inequitable school funding
in Illinois, both issues that should be catalysts for urging lawmakers to improve educational funding policies in Illinois.
In order to address these funding inequities, Illinois adopted a new funding formula in 2017, a research-based school funding formula
that offers a more equitable distribution of state dollars to the neediest districts by explicitly addressing funding inequities. Following the
evidence-based funding formula, the majority of new school funding in the 2018 state budget went to the neediest districts first: 89% of
the new school funding allocated at tier one schools that were furthest from their Adequacy Target and more than 85% of all dollars went to
districts with greater than 50% low-income students (Finke, 2018). Institutions of higher education in Illinois are taking steps to ensure more
affordable access. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign initiated Illinois Commitment, a program that provides financial aid for
in-state students from families with annual household incomes of less than $61,000, along with institutional, federal, and state aids such as
Pell Grants and MAP grants (Illinois News Bureau, 2018). Thus, Illinois Commitment expects to contribute to reducing students’ debt and
the brain-drain issue (Illinois News Bureau, 2018; The Illinois Chronicle, 2018).
UPDATE - FALL 2019 23
Although the educational funding system has been revised to address inequity in education, it needs to do much more to decrease the funding
inequities in education. Having a deeper understanding of the history of disparities and an intentional commitment to addressing the ways
in which racially minoritized and economically disadvantaged groups have been historically, politically, and socio-culturally marginalized is
a significant foundation for ensuring an equitable funding structure going forward. By doing so, policymakers and institutional leaders can
highlight contextual factors such as race and poverty, and initiate and legislate a more equitable funding system. All states should increase
appropriations to better fund public education and allocate educational funding commensurate with school districts’ needs based on student
demographics and resources. States and institutions should design and provide needs-based aid programs so that the lowest-income students
can get help from federal, state, and institutional dollars to cover the real cost of college, not just tuition.
To the state’s credit, Illinois has taken multiple meaningful initial steps to improve equity and establish an important accomplishment in
education. The new school-funding formulas Illinois Promise and Illinois Comminitment for instance, have the potential to improve access
to higher education for a broader segment of Illinois residents. While it is too soon to determine the benefits of the new allocation formula
and financial-aid program results, the preliminary evidence shows promise.
Dr. William Trent can be reached at [email protected]
HyeJin (Tina) Yeo can be reached at [email protected]
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26(7), 659-679. doi:10.1080/10668920290102680
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Association of Community Colleges.
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high school students’ SAT performance. Teachers College Record, 115(4), 1-33.
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24 UPDATE - FALL 2019
Houston, D. A. (2018). Public school funding and postsecondary outcomes in Illinois: What is reasonable to expect from Illinois’ school funding reforms? (Policy
Research. IERC 2018-1). Edwardsville, IL: Illinois Education Research Council.
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UPDATE - FALL 2019 25
WAITING to Exhale and
Reflux in American
by Eboni M. Zamani-Gallaher,
We are three-fourths of the way through 2019 and well over 600 people have been killed by
police officers, according to The Washington Post Democracy Dies in the Darkness: Fatal
Force police shooting database. As these records show, there are disproportionately higher
rates of deadly force applied to Blacks per population in contrast to Whites. In fact, Whites
comprise 76.5% of Americans but account for just 205 deaths by the cops, which is less than
1% of those killed this year by police. Blacks, meanwhile make up 13.4% of the population,
but 143 (9.4%) of them have been killed by cops in 2019. Further, 139 of the 143 Black people
shot to death by police officers this year were Black men, 7 of them being unarmed and 6 of
them identified as having possession of an unknown weapon.
Nearly five years ago, I wrote the following blog post, “Waiting to Exhale,” feeling like my racial
battle fatigue was at an all-time high, knowing that my “Black-is-tired” and so many other of
folks were having similar feelings. Prior to the 2014 killings of Michael Brown and Tamir
Rice, and before the 2015 killing of Eric Gardner, there was Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Trayvon
Martin, Jordan David, and Renisha McBride. As I wrote the blog piece “Waiting to Exhale”
in December 2014, I never fathomed that I would see 2015 ushered in with yet more of my
people—unarmed Black folks—being killed. Floyd Dent, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Sandra
Bland, and Samuel DuBose. Stephon Clark and Botham Shem Jean in 2018, Isaiah Mark
Lewis this April … and the list goes on and on. Black folks who were killed for walking while
Black, standing while Black, playing while Black, driving while Black, trying to get home on
public transportation while Black, being in their own backyard while Black, being in their own
subdivision while headed home with Skittles and tea while Black, playing loud music at a gas
station while Black, and for trying to seek help after following a car collision while Black. Time
after time, I and other Black folks collective breaths are taken away. It’s laborious trying not to
have asphyxia from continual injustice that permeates as no charges or acquittals result after
killing us. The past five years have flown by, yet the painful reality is that the more things have
changed, the more nothing whatsoever is different when it comes to the unparalleled loss of
innocent Black lives.
26 UPDATE - FALL 2019
Original Post With Garner’s death filmed, the Obama administration’s plans offer
December 22, 2014 little consolation. It is criminal not applying accountability to those
dishonoring the badge bringing peril, not protection, to the people.
On November 24th, a St. Louis County grand jury brought The reactions I have had to the recent events depict the cumulative
no criminal charges against officer Darren Wilson, a white effects of what William Smith refers to as RBF – Racial Battle Fa-
policeman who shot an unarmed African-American teen- tigue. Smith coined the term in describing emotional, psychological,
ager, Michael Brown multiple times resulting in his death. As I physiological, and behavioral symptoms that manifest as people of
watched the news coverage of the Ferguson, Missouri grand jury color deal with the toll of daily racial macro- and microaggressions
announcement unfolding, I felt disbelief for what appeared to be (Smith, 2010). The mainstay of marginalization is not manufactured
immunity for prejudicial policing. Some may balk that justice pre- making mending what is broken far reaching. Scholar Joe Feagin
vailed; however, those embittered by the result in Ferguson have contends that this country was founded on extensive white-on-black
tired of excessive force being commonplace. oppression and has never recovered. The symbiotic relationship
December 3rd, I viewed coverage of protests in dismay of another between policing and racism has contributed to militarism and in-
failure to indict in the case of Eric Garner, a black man killed by a creased brutality of the disenfranchised.
white officer. The fatal exchange, all captured on video tape, shows We Aren’t There Yet
Garner saying, “I can’t breathe” multiple times. The medical exam- A post-racial society is still merely rhetoric not reality. Across the
iner ruled Garner’s death a homicide. As I watched MSNBC, my spectrum of difference, dominance functions by remaining unexam-
two 10 year-old daughters ready for bed, came to say goodnight. ined. It is only when it hits close to home for us that the particular
One looked at the screen inquiring, “Mom, why are you watching group membership in question is more salient. It is then that uneven-
that show again? You watched it last week. Why are you watching ness registers; that we all have racialized realities, gendered experienc-
a re-run?” My heart sank. Really, a re-run? While this was not a es, social class matters, who you love can come at a cost, and so forth.
television series, the scene was a familiar repeat on prime time TV. As we clamor for new codes for cops, there should also be new rules
I attempted to explain what was occurring. My other child asked, for engagement on college campuses. One thing we can do as schol-
“Aren’t the police suppose to protect us?” and with panic asked, “Is ar-practitioners is to encourage students to know their rights, have
Daddy going to be safe?” Geez! How do I inform them without a sense of agency and voice, as well as stay encouraged. Many times,
setting off an alarm that the black boys/men in our family will not the positive changes that occur in society are due in part to youth
meet harm’s way just for walking and driving while black? activism. The democratic distresses of the 1960s challenging social
Walking the Line inequality that brought about campus movements are still relevant
in today’s society.
I feel particularly paradoxical as a black female that grew up as a As a scholar-practitioner with a social justice imperative and as a per-
cop’s kid. On one hand, my father is a retired police officer that was son of color, it is hard not to feel that there is a devaluing of our lives.
awarded a life-saving commendation from the Superintendent of I have ordered and worn a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt numerous
the Chicago Police Department. On the other hand, I know that times the past few weeks. The shirt is symoblic and gives me affirma-
every police officer will not be a dignified upholder of the law but tion but only fleeting relief. It is unnerving that in the 21st century
may demonstrate dereliction of duty. I have seen my father racially we are still plagued with the charge to move black lives from the
profiled when in plain clothes. Why would he have to be in uniform margins to mattering. I guess I want a utopia where we get real about
with badge and gun in tow for some of his colleagues to see he was the scar of race and have systemic and sustainable change. Is trying
not a threat – to see his full humanity? There is irony in the pride to be the change you want to see in the world an exercise in futility?
and pain I feel toward members of the fraternal order of police. The Well, I cannot go there. I would rather be in a fool’s paradise where
circumstances contributing to the recent death of Eric Garner indi- the newsreel is full of stories with a different ending than pipelines
cates a need to deescalate the divisions. The contemporary divisions to prison instead of postsecondary for brown and black men, to each
between communities of color and the police are but a “re-run” or person seeing one another, moving beyond the “me” but considering
repeat if you revisit American history. the “we.”
Race has been inextricably intertwined with social control in the
U.S. Therefore, it is nothing new to find historical and current cases Eboni M. Zamani-Gallaher, PhD can be reached at
of no culpability for misconduct. Fifteen years ago, the Clinton Ad- [email protected]
ministration called for $40 million dollars to be spent on ethics and
integrity education, $2 million to recruit more minority police of-
ficers, and $5 million for citizen police academies to curb racial pro-
filing and police brutality. On Monday, December 1, 2014, Presi-
dent Obama asserted the Eric Garner case is “an American problem”
announcing plans to roll out a $253 million dollar plan to address
police brutality with $75 million toward police worn video cameras.
UPDATE - FALL 2019 27
Mom, why are you watching that
You watched it last week.
Why are you watching a rerun?
28 UPDATE - FALL 2019
Editor-at-Large: Eboni M. Zamani-Gallaher
Managing Editors: Eboni M. Zamani-Gallaher and Sal Nudo
Copy Editor: Sal Nudo
Graphic Designer: Jason Keist