Racial and Socioeconomic Distribution of Public Green Ribbon Schools
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The purpose of this study is to investigate whether all students, regardless of racial and socioeconomic status, have equal access to the Green Ribbon Schools. Recent research on the benefits of green schools and green school programs have demonstrated positive effects correlated with green spaces, particularly with enhanced attention, improved academic performance, fostered outdoor education, and overall well-being. The Green Ribbon award is a recognition award that honors schools that are environmentally conscious and have a focus on sustainability. Any school may apply for this award through their state. If a state nominates more than two schools or districts, at least one of the schools must serve at least 40 percent of students from disadvantageous backgrounds. This specific aims of this study is to find out whether the majority of awarded public Green Ribbon Schools are equally distributed among disadvantaged students. The list of ED Green Ribbon public schools for the years 2013 through 2015 was collected from the Green Ribbon School website through the Department of Education. Racial/ethnic and socioeconomic data was collected from the Elementary/Secondary Information System, which is a database created by the National Center for Education Statistics. The data was then analyzed to determine racial and socioeconomic distribution. The study found that the majority of awarded public Green Ribbon Schools did not serve at least 40 percent disadvantaged students. The majority of Green Ribbon Schools (61%) are primarily attended by White students. Just under 50% of Green Ribbon Schools serve at least 40% socioeconomically disadvantaged students. The chi-squared test found that race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status of the students were not equally distributed for the Green Ribbon Schools (= 30.60, p< 0.0005). This determined that race and socioeconomic status are related factors, and it is not just due to chance that the majority of Green Ribbon Schools are White and Not Disadvantaged. This study is important because it shows that disadvantaged populations are less likely to get an education that may allow their students to learn about sustainability while also potentially becoming a more sustainable school. With this knowledge, the recognition process of bestowing Green Ribbon awards can become more conscious in reaching out to schools that serve more disadvantaged populations.