White voters don’t like paying for the education of minority schoolchildren, or so we learn from a New York Times article this week that looked at places in New York where school budgets were voted down this year. The article’s author, Sam Roberts, found that in places where the majority of voters were white and the majority of schoolchildren were minorities, the budgets “fare[d] worse.”
Roberts also cites research that has shown the same trend to be true at the state level – in states where most voters are white but most children are minorities, spending on education is lower.
In part, this may be an older people vs. younger people dilemma. Many of these places are sites of changing demographics, where young minority families are moving in alongside a population of white empty-nesters who’ve stuck around after young white families have moved on. The white voters may be reluctant to pay for schools when they don’t perceive any benefits accruing to themselves or their children. In terms of property values, some might argue that the voters’ behavior is shortsighted because real-estate prices are so often dominated by school quality, especially in the suburbs where these trends are playing out.