$23 billion—that’s the amount of money less that nonwhite school districts get compared to white districts, despite serving the same number of students, according to a new report from EdBuild.
In the report, titled $23 Billion, EdBuild uses a novel methodology to examine school district revenues based on racial and socioeconomic characteristics at the national and state level. For every state, EdBuild compares the average revenue of school districts that have high concentrations of white with districts that have a high concentration of nonwhite students. The analysis points to an important equity concern for states: locally funded school districts paired with arbitrarily drawn school district borders creates a system of haves and have-nots where low wealth communities, which tend to be segregated, have substantially less resources for their schools. The report argues that although many states have attempted to ameliorate the inequity through state funding, massive inequity remains. Large media outlets have run with the analysis, including the New York Times, US News, and NPR, among many others.
On the ground, advocates, including PIE Network Member A for Arizona have applied the report to their local context. In a blog post, A for Arizona agreed their state “should seek an equalized system of school funding that is student-centered and move away from district-centric funding systems,” but cautioned that the results of this specific report could be misinterpreted due to the methodology of the report. EdBuild averaged funding at the school district level without accounting for the amount of students in the district. Additionally, A for Arizona points out that funding for charter schools are not considered in the report, which is a big source of inequity in the state.
Previous state-by-state analysis have also found massive funding inequities in local and state dollars. Last year, The Education Trust released a report, Funding Gaps 2018, that showed many states had regressive funding formulas creating large gaps in funding for districts serving low-income students and students of color.
Advocates can head to the view Ed Build’s report on their website to find state specific data and analysis on funding for racially concentrated low-income districts. If you’d like to connect with EdBuild or other members working on funding reform, please reach out.