A new analysis from The Education Trust shows that inequitable state funding formulas are leading to significant funding gaps for districts that serve large populations of students of color and students from low-income families. Funding Gaps 2018 examines state and local revenue sources to provide both national trends and state-by-state breakdowns of funding patterns.
By providing digestible information customized for each state, EdTrust’s past work on funding inequities has helped state advocates achieve meaningful progress on school finance. The 2015 edition of the Funding Gaps report informed efforts to achieve Illinois’ historic school funding win in 2017.
“The data helped galvanize support for a more equitable approach to providing state dollars,” said Ben Boer, deputy director at Network member Advance Illinois. Advocates for funding reform in Illinois emphasized the state’s position as worst in the nation in terms of equity, and media coverage followed suit.
Key insights include:
- School districts that serve the largest populations of Black, Latino, or American Indian students receive 13 percent less per student in state and local funding than those serving the fewest students of color.
- School funding patterns vary widely by state. In 14 states, districts that serve the most students of color receive substantially more funding, but in 14 other states, they receive substantially less.
- When adjusted for the added costs of educating low-income students the funding gap between the highest and lowest poverty districts is 16 percent.
School finance is one of the most difficult advocacy issues to advance, and PIE Network’s annual pulse check of advocates’ priorities shows that fiscal issues are a top concern for more than 20 Network organizations in 17 states. Ed Trust hopes that tools like Funding Gaps 2018 can support further progress by providing digestible information customized for each state.
“The good news, and the reason we believe this analysis is so important now, is that more and more advocates, parents, educators, and district and state leaders are pushing for change,” said Ary Amerikaner, Ed Trust’s director of P-12 resource equity.