April 1, 2021

School District Spending And Equal Educational Opportunity

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No April fooling here. The Shanker Institute has teamed up with school finance data wizards Bruce Baker and Mark Weber to create a data set, rendered as a map, looking at the adequacy of funding from district to district. There are some big numbers involved, as explained by Matthew Di Carlo:

There is good news and bad news. The good news is that thousands of districts enjoy funding levels above and beyond our estimates of adequate levels, in some cases two or three times higher. The bad news is that these well-funded districts co-exist with thousands of other school systems, some located within driving distance or even in the next town over, where investment is so poorly aligned with need that funding levels are a fraction of estimated costs. To give a rough sense of the magnitude of the underfunding, if we add up all the negative funding gaps in these latter districts (not counting the districts with adequate funding), the total is $104 billion.

But here’s a fairly simple one that brings it closer to home.

The average negative gap (not counting positive gaps) is $4,254 per-pupil, or 25.6 percent below the adequate level.

This quick overview includes links to the full brief so you can dive as deeply as you want. And if you happen to run into somebody who asks, “Well, how will we know which districts need to be targeted for support,” here’s a good resource for addressing that question. 

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