The benefits of a decent education are vital to being successful in life and an important determinant of income security, yet far too many students continue to be left behind and are unprepared to seek quality employment. There are considerable disparities in educational opportunity across race and income on Long Island. Schools with the highest percentages of African American, Latino, and English Language Learners, who frequently also are low-income, have the least-experienced, least-qualified, and lowest-salaried teachers, high teacher turnover and less access to pre-Kindergarten programs, computers, enrichment programs, and Advanced Placement courses than do students in higher income, predominantly white schools. Nine of the eleven New York State school districts with the largest proportion of Black and Hispanic students are on Long Island; all nine are high-poverty, high-need districts, have the highest percentages of English language learners, and are among the lowest performing districts in the region. The Public Policy and Education Fund of New York reports that there is a 31 percent gap in high school graduation rates, a 40 percent gap in Regent’s diplomas, and a 44 percent gap in college enrollment between Long Island’s high-need and low-need districts.
Moreover, despite the fact that STEM occupations are growing at a faster rate, are higher paying, and more stable than jobs in other fields, there is an overall lack of proficiency and lack of interest in STEM subjects across the region’s school districts, regardless of demographics and student achievement. A recent study showed that 16 percent of Long Island's high school students scored unsatisfactory in math and 14 percent scored unsatisfactory in science; this number nearly triples in the region’s high-need school districts that serve primarily students of color — 46 percent and 36 percent respectively. While Long Island is home to world renowned research facilities and high tech industry, only 4.8 percent of Long Island’s workers are in science and engineering fields as compared to the national average of 5.7 percent.
On Long Island:
- There is a 31% gap in high school graduation rates, a 40% gap in Regent’s diplomas, and a 44% gap in college enrollment between Long Island’s high-need and low-need districts.
- On average, almost $6,000 more is spent each year on a child in one of the wealthiest districts than a child in one of the poorest.
- The majority of Long Island’s Black & Latino students are concentrated in 13 of the 125 school districts, which tend to be relatively low performing schools with high rates of poverty.
- Nine of the eleven NYS school districts with largest population of Black & Latino students are on Long Island.
- 16% of Long Island’s high school students score unsatisfactory in math and 14% score unsatisfactory in science; this number nearly TRIPLES in high need school districts.