The 3rd Edition of Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card, was released on February 5th by the Education Law Center. A summary of the findings can be found at http://schoolfundingfairness.org. The full 49-page report can be downloaded for free at the site as well. The report evaluates all 50 states in the U.S. and the District of Columbia with respect to funding level, distribution, state fiscal effort, and coverage.
The Great Recession, which began in late 2007, had severe impacts on state and local tax revenues in the United States, and on budgets for education. The federal government stepped in on a temporary basis and provided additional funding to states to aid them in maintaining their levels of funding for education. But by 2010 this program ended. Almost all the states cut back on their investment in K-12 education as the federal funding was pulled back.
“As this National Report Card shows, most states did not step up when the federal stimulus dried up. Instead, they cut education funding, eroding fairness in some states and further retreating from that goal in others,” said David Sciarra, Education Law Center Executive Director and NRC co-author. “These latest results show school finance in most states is decidedly unfair, a condition which deprives equal educational opportunity to millions of public school children across the nation.”
The major findings of this 3rd Edition of the National Report Card include:
- There are significant disparities in funding, with per pupil expenditure ranging from less than $7000 to over $17,000, depending on the state.
- Most states do not have progressive funding distribution patterns in response to the needs of high poverty districts. And in 5 states, the poorest districts have funding at least 20% lower than other districts.
- States with the greatest commitment to education direct over 4.5% of their economic productivity to schools. The least committed states devote 2.5% or less.
- Some states have relatively large numbers of children not in public schools. The report expresses a concern about the effects of this on support for adequate levels of funding for public education in such states.
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