Despite recent, widespread attention to inequitable education funding formulas, school districts serving low-income students and students of color still receive far less funding than districts serving White and more affluent students. This is just one of the findings of “Funding Gaps 2015,” a new report by The Education Trust that analyzes education funding equity across the United States and within each state.
In order to understand how states allocate the resources they oversee, “Funding Gaps 2015” explicitly removes federal funds from its analysis and focuses only on state and local funding. The results are discouraging, and highlight how low-income students and students of color are disadvantaged by funding policy.
The report finds that there is great variation among states in terms of their funding patterns. For example, Minnesota and Ohio both provide 22 percent more in state and local funds to their highest poverty districts, while Illinois provides 19 percent less. Similarly, Massachusetts provides 18 percent more funding to districts serving the most students of color, while Texas provides 15 percent less.
Other key findings from the report include:
- Nationally, the highest poverty school districts receive about $1,200, or 10 percent, less per student in state and local finds than the districts with the lowest poverty levels.
- Districts serving the most students of color receive about $2,000, or 15 percent, less per student in state and local funds than districts serving the fewest students of color
Sadly, the inequities described in “Funding Gaps 2015” have existed for decades. The quality of teachers, resources, and educational opportunities that a child has is far too often partly determined by their family’s income, or the color of their skin.
“If this nation is truly to live up to its promise of being the ‘land of equal opportunity,’ states must take a hard look at their funding formulas and ask themselves, ‘Are we giving all students the resources they need to reach their full potential?’ The answer is ‘no’ in far too many states,” said Natasha Ushomirsky, K-12 senior data and policy analyst and co-author of the report. “The good news is that closing funding gaps is possible. There are many states that are paving the way.”
To get detailed data on funding patterns in your state, check out The Education Trust’s new online data map.