"Growth and Disparity: A Decade of U.S. Public School Construction 1995-2004," is a new study that finds that the nation's school districts spent more than $300 billion for hard bricks and mortar costs to build and renovate schools, but when counting all costs related to construction -- land, fees, furnishings, and interest payments -- the total for school construction approached $600 billion.
But despite this massive investment in public infrastructure, many of the nation's children are still in crowded and substandard buildings. This report shows that the schools with the greatest need, primarily those in high-poverty and predominantly minority school districts, have seen the least investment.
Further, the money spent on schools in low-income communities was more likely to go to basic health and safety needs such as asbestos removal or roof replacement rather than educational enhancements. The No Child Left Behind Act, which is silent on school facilities, should identify the quality of school buildings as a critical factor in closing the achievement gap.
Greater attention needs to be paid to what is happening and who is benefiting from massive school construction spending.
Read the PDF of the report, here.