A new research report from the Education Law Center (“Is School Funding Fair–A National Report Card”) grades the 50 states on the fairness of their school-funding systems. Most notable findings: Texas rates a C for fairness of funding distribution (measured by extra funding for districts that have more students with greater needs) and a D for funding effort (funding relative to the overall size of the state’s economy). The state’s funding level, adjusted for interstate differences, puts Texas 42d among the states in average state and local revenue per pupil. This critical report arrives on the eve of yet another hearing at the state capitol on whether and how to overhaul the Texas school-finance system.
AFT President Randi Weingarten today commented on the “disheartening” implications of the report for the nation as a whole. “It is unacceptable that just seven states were given an A or B on their funding distribution to schools with high poverty concentration,” she said.
Weingarten added: “Our nation needs to set priorities for students living in poverty, to help them overcome economic challenges and become productive citizens. This starts with a commitment to early-childhood education so all kids enter kindergarten knowing their numbers, letters and colors, and a resolve to provide wraparound services at schools so disadvantaged children and their families receive academic, nutritional, health-care and other programs and services that they need.
“Just a month ago,” she noted, “the U.S. Census Bureau reported that American poverty levels are the highest since the federal government began keeping track more than 50 years ago. Today, one in five American children is living in poverty. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that disadvantaged children not be left behind by inadequate support for their schools….AFT will continue to work at the national, state and local levels to urge school funding systems that provide equality of educational opportunity, backed by the resources required to overcome the barriers to success that poverty creates for too many students.”