School District Secession Is a Pretty Minor Issue in 48 States

The 74 reports that we’re seeing an epidemic of suburban areas seceding from big urban school districts:

EdBuild argues that residents who push to create their own school systems are often motivated by one overarching factor: school funding. “We are seeing over and over that it’s about the money,” said Zahava Stadler, director of policy at EdBuild, a think tank focused on education funding equity.

….When one district splits into two, the move often creates a wealthy school system that leaves behind one with high poverty and poor funding. Since 2000, at least 128 communities have launched campaigns to secede from their local school districts to create their own, smaller education systems. Of those, 74 have been successful, 11 of them finalized in just the past few years. Another 16 secession efforts are currently underway.

Secession efforts of any kind are almost always about money.¹ Rich areas want to keep their money to themselves, and the way to do it is to secede. They generally also want to stay white, and secession paves the way for that too. The whole thing is loathsome and offensive.

However, it’s not really very widespread. It turns out that of the 74 school district secessions, 47 are in Maine and Alabama and another six took place in Shelby County, Tennessee, a year after a school district merger. Outside of that, there have been 21 secessions since 2000, or about one per year in a country with more than 13,000 school districts. In other words, we might have a Maine and Alabama problem, but in the other 48 states there’s not really much going on.

¹On a national level, language often plays a role too. But even then, there’s usually a money angle as well.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate