United States Tackles “Unfair” Funding of Schools, Report Says | Best States


More than half of the states have per-student funding levels below the national average, which is part of an overall grim picture of public education in the United States painted by a report published Thursday.

Findings from the Education Law Center, a nonprofit organization focused on equity in education, underscore the “persistence of unfair funding of schools across the country,” according to a press release. The southern and western states struggle the most to provide adequate funding for public school students, and a majority of states fail to provide higher dollar amounts to poorer schools and districts that do. most needed, the annual “Make the Note” report found.

“This year’s report makes it clear that even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the funding situation for schools in many states was grim,” said Danielle Farrie, director of research and co-author of the report. Education Law Center, in a statement. “While the obligation to fully invest in public education rests primarily with states, it is time for the federal government to use the tools in its toolkit to push for fair and equitable funding of schools across the country. “

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The authors assigned ratings to each state based on three measures of education financing: level, distribution, and effort. Funding level refers to expenditure per student, distribution refers to the allocation of funds to districts relative to their concentration of students from low-income families, and effort measures the share of gross domestic product of a state that is incorporated by its public K-12 education system. The data was compiled from surveys based on 2019 from the US Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

A whopping 22 states received F ratings in at least one of the three measures. Two states – Florida and Nevada – scored Fs in all three, while five others scored the lowest possible in at least two categories. Most of these states also had poverty rates among school-aged children among adolescents. Mississippi – which had the highest poverty rate among states, according to the report – got an F for funding level but a C and a B for distribution and effort, respectively.

States with at least two F scores and their funding levels per student

State Funding per student adjusted for costs
Alabama $ 11,694
Arizona $ 9,717
Florida $ 10,979
Nevada $ 10,317
North Carolina $ 10,595
Tennessee $ 11,139
Utah $ 10,039

Utah provides an interesting case, as its progressive funding system – when higher per pupil funding is provided to very poor districts – led it to an A grade in the distribution measure, but it received grades. F for level and effort. The state’s low level of funding – just over $ 10,000 per student, the second lowest in the country – means that even its poorest districts “are funded at the aggregate national average, which is unlikely to rise. providing the opportunities and resources these students need, ”according to the report.

For the distribution metric, 20 states scored a D or lower, meaning that low poverty districts in those states received more funding per student than high poverty districts. Most of these states have a regressive system, which means that very poor districts enjoy lower levels of funding. The most drastic example is Nevada, where students from very poor neighborhoods received 32% less funding than those from poor neighborhoods. Connecticut and New Hampshire were other states that experienced similar shortcomings.

Not all of the report’s conclusions were gloomy. More states have progressive (18) than regressive (15) or flat (14) funding systems, where there is no significant difference in funding by poverty level, according to the Education Law Center. Wyoming was the only state with general A ratings, while Alaska – which was tied with Utah for having the most progressive funding system in the country – received a B rating for its level of funding and As for the other two measures. The report also noted that California recently overhauled its school funding system and subsequently saw its funding level and distribution rank increase.

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