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Bullying and Bias Can Cost Schools Millions in Lost Funding

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July 22, 2017, News

When children avoid school to avoid bullying, many states can lose tens of millions of dollars in funding, and California alone loses an estimated $276 million each year because children feel unsafe.

New research from The University of Texas at Austin published in School Psychology Quarterly highlights the hidden cost to communities in states that use daily attendance numbers to calculate public school funding. When children are afraid to go to school because classmates target them because of bias against their race, gender, religion, disability or sexual orientation, schools lose tens of millions of dollars each year linked to this absenteeism.

The research used data from the 2011-2013 California Healthy Kids Survey and information from the state’s Department of Education. Researchers also calculated the average amount of money allocated for each student each day based on average daily attendance funding (about $50).

Analyses showed that 10.4 percent of students reported they missed at least one day of school in the past month because of feeling unsafe. This extrapolates to an estimated 301,000 students missing school because of feeling unsafe and $276 million in lost revenue each year in California public schools.

 Nearly half of the absent students — 45 percent — reported that they missed school and felt unsafe because of being targeted for bias. When Russell and colleagues calculated the lost revenue to California schools each year, it was up to $78 million for bullying due to race/ethnicity bias, as much as $54 million based on a religion bias, up to $54 million for gender bias, as high as $62 million for bias related to sexual orientation and as much as $49 million for disability-related bias. Many children reported they were bullied in more than one of these categories.

This study was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, UT Austin’s Priscilla Pond Flawn Endowment and the Communities for Just Schools Fund. Craig Talmage of Hobart and William Smith Colleges co-authored the paper with Russell and Baams.

Read the full article on the University of Texas at Austin website.

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