Funding Gaps 2018


Throughout history, public education has been called the great equalizer — the single most in uential factor that allows all students, regardless of zip code, to one day excel in the workforce and contribute to the nation’s economic well-being as well as their own and that of the communities in which they live.

While that may be true, the educational opportunities provided to the nearly 51 million children who attend public schools are anything but equal. Students of different races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds tend to end up at very different schools, ones with disparate resources, including those most crucial to student success— for example, high quality teachers, effective early education programs, and meaningful forms of college and career counseling.

Access to these and other resources are intrinsically linked to historical inequities in school funding that have been pervasive in American public schools. Coupled with state and local policies, funding allocations determine how much teachers are paid, the extent and frequency of professional development, the length of the school day, the number of students in a classroom, the availability of student supports and extracurricular activities, and myriad other factors that can have an impact on student learning.

In 2015, the last time The Education Trust examined this issue, we set out to determine how state and local funding for different districts compared by percentage of students in poverty and by percentage of students of color. What we found was that many states were not sending additional resources to their highest poverty districts or to districts serving the most students of color, and across the country, these districts were in fact receiving less money than the districts serving the fewest students living in poverty and students of color. In this report, we take another look at how state and local school funding decisions can either advance or hinder equity. In doing so, we ask the following questions:

  • How do the revenues of districts serving the most students in poverty (the highest poverty districts) compare with those serving the fewest students in poverty (the lowest poverty districts) in each state and across the country?

  • How much funding does the state provide to districts, and how does it distribute those dollars?

  • How do the revenues of districts serving the most students of color compare with those of districts serving the fewest students of color?

We focus specifically on state and local revenues and exclude federal sources because federal dollars are intended— and targeted — to provide supplemental services to such specific groups of students as those in poverty, English learners, and students with disabilities. In this analysis, we are interested in learning how states allocate the resources they oversee.

Funding Gaps 2018 is part of a rich body of work on funding inequities conducted by many terri c researchers and advocates at both the local and national level. This brief provides an up-to-date, straightforward analysis of funding equity — between districts — that is comparable across states and allows advocates and policymakers to understand how their state fares in a national context against a few key criteria. This report gives an overview of funding equity by race and poverty concentration across states, while our interactive, online data tool offers more detailed information for each state. We hope this work will help advocates keep the focus on equity.

Source: The Education Trust, FUNDING GAPS 2018

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