New report shows education funding inequities remain
- According to a column in the Hechinger Report, though federal funding has helped level the playing field in school spending over the years, a recently released report of school spending during the 2014-15 academic year reveals that 25% of the poorest schools in the nation received 3.4% less in per pupil spending than 25% of the wealthiest school districts, creating a national funding gap of $449 per student.
- When considering all funding sources, poorer districts in most states receive more funding than wealthier ones, with high-poverty districts in eight states receiving 20% or more in increased funding. However, in six states—Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, Nevada and Virginia — high-poverty districts received less funding.
- Marguerite Roza, director of the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University, says that the numbers represent a temporary step backward caused by the effects on state spending as a result of the 2008 recession and sees the situation improving as states are in economic recovery.
This newest report on school revenues and expenditures released by the National Center for Education Statistics in June reveals the complexity of school funding and the continuing struggle to improve the equity equation in schools. The issue of the money problem in schools has received more attention in recent years. In 2015, former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the funding gaps make education “separate but unequal.” However, the issue is complex, because school districts in more affluent areas receive more local funds and parents who buy real estate in those areas expect that to happen.
States also face challenges to their school funding formulas. The Supreme Court in Kansas recently told the state legislature that the school funding formula is not enough to meet the dual tests of “adequacy” and “equity.” And a 2016 study from the Educational Testing Service suggested that the solution is to improve state finance systems in many states.
A report released this year by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights suggests that the federal government should play a larger role in making sure that funding is equitable. Under the provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act, schools will have to meet mandates in December 2019 that require more financial transparency at the school level. A look a that data should reveal more about where and why these inequities exist and may lead to a better solution.