Report: Federal government should take action on ensuring equitable funding
- The most recent report by the U.S Commission on Civil Rights suggests that the federal government should play a larger role in ensuring equitable funding financially rewarding states and school districts that are devoting increased resources to programs and facilities for underserved students, District Administration reports.
- The Every Student Succeeds Act is already requiring that states begin collecting data about school spending on a school-by-school basis and the report recommends that Congress monitor and evaluate school data to see how funding is impacting student outcomes.
- Three years ago, the superintendent of the Schenectady City School District in New York filed a complaint against the state for underfunding poor school districts, partnered with other superintendents and the Capitol Region Chamber of Commerce, and received additional funding for his district. This action indicates that proactive measures based on funding data can help correct systems that are often unintentionally discriminatory because of faulty funding formulas.
While the upcoming ESSA requirement to present data on funding at the school level may seem like an added burden to schools, it may also shine a light on whether such funding is distributed equitably. In the current era, state and local governments do not usually discriminate deliberately. However, their policies and funding formulas often do not always account for the additional resources needed by underserved populations. They also often do not account for the ability of richer districts to obtain additional funding from donations and grants because they are in a position to do so.
As more focus is placed on equity, school administrators need to keep a close eye on funding for their school districts to see if such inequities exist and then be willing to champion their district’s cause based on solid data, not emotional rhetoric. In the state of Washington, the issue of funding inequities went to the state Supreme Court. This issue is important because funding can be tied to student achievement, in many cases.
- District Administration Report urges federal action on equitable funding for schools