. . . .The separation of young people into this two-track system matters so much because the outcomes vary so much for students at the most and least selective institutions. Among black and Latino students with above-average SAT scores, 81% at selective public institutions complete their degrees, compared with just 46% at the less selective public schools, the Center on Education and the Workforce found in "Our Separate & Unequal Public Colleges," a comprehensive study released last fall.
The disparity isn't difficult to explain: The selective public institutions can afford to spend about three times as much on their students as the least selective institutions. Amid sustained cuts in taxpayer funding for public higher education, that spending gap is now about one-fourth larger than it was a decade ago. It's one reason why the gap in college completion is also widening between whites on the one hand and African-Americans and Latinos on the other, even though the latter groups have significantly increased their share of the total postsecondary population.. . . .