We’ve talked about inequities in New York’s school funding formula quite a bit over the past year. (You can read some of what we’ve had to say here, here, here, and you watch all of our videos with Statewide School Finance Consortium Executive Director Dr. Rick Timbs here/)
A new report published in June by the Education Law Center and Rutgers University Graduate School of Education aligns with what we have been been saying, in that it argues that inequities at the district level may be exacerbated by the formulas states use to allocate funds to school districts.
The Education Law Center report, “Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card,” measures ‘fairness’ in school funding – defined as providing schools with adequate funding to educate the students in their district, including additional costs created by higher poverty rates – on four metrics.
From the Executive Summary of the report:
“All 50 states were evaluated on the basis of four separate, but interrelated, fairness measures:
- Funding Level: Using figures adjusted to account for a variety of interstate differences, this measure allows for a comparison of the average state and local revenue per pupil across states. States are ranked from highest to lowest per pupil funding.
- Funding Distribution: This measure shows whether a state provides more or less funding to schools based on their poverty concentration. States are evaluated as “regressive,” “progressive” or “flat” and are given letter grades that correspond to their relative position compared to other states.
- Effort: This measures differences in state spending relative to the state’s fiscal capacity. States are graded according to the ratio of state spending on education to per-capita gross domestic product.
- Coverage: This measures the proportion of school-age children attending the state’s public schools and also addresses the income disparity between families using private schools and those sending their children to public schools. States are ranked according to both the proportion of children in public schools and the income ratio of private and public school families.”
New York scores very well on levels of funding (we’re third in the nation behind Wyoming and Alaska), and we get an “A” for effort. But sadly, we get a “D” on funding distribution. 16 states have regressive funding systems, providing high-poverty districts with less state and local revenue than low-poverty districts, and New York is one of them.