Home > Uncategorized > Powerful Video by Texas Superintendent Explains Why FUNDING Accountability is Needed, and USNews and World Report Explains Why it is Difficult to Accomplish

Powerful Video by Texas Superintendent Explains Why FUNDING Accountability is Needed, and USNews and World Report Explains Why it is Difficult to Accomplish

December 10, 2017

Diane Ravitch’s blog included a link to this two-minute video of Texas Superintendent John Kuhn explaining to an audience how funding inequity tilts the playing field in favor of affluent school districts. Unfortunatly the description Texas’ unfair funding formula plays out in at least 20 other states. As the US News and World Report noted in a recent article by Lauren Camera:

….21 states, up from 14 last year, use funding formulas that provide less funding to school districts with higher concentrations of low‐income students, according to recent research from policymakers at the Education Law Center and Rutgers University‘s Graduate School of Education.

As noted in many earlier posts on this blog, at least 35 states face lawsuits because they offer insufficient and/or inequitable funds for schools… and what is distressing to public school advocates like me is that this reality is repeatedly glossed over in favor of a narrative that assigns the responsibility for “failing schools” onto teachers.

But, as Ms. Camera reports in her article, changing funding formulas is impossible as long as the amount of funding remains constant. Why?

That’s because changing formulas means shifting how a single pot of money is distributed within a state, meaning some districts would receive more funding and others would receive less. Regardless of whether the change is seen as creating a fairer funding system, politicians have been hard-pressed to convince residents of would-be “losing” districts that it’s in their best interest to support a plan that directs less funding to their schools.

But what if the public understood the reality of school funding: most public schools are receiving less money today than they were receiving a decade ago before the financial meltdown. Ms. Camera acknowledges this in her article:

In 2015, the latest year for which comprehensive spending data are available from the U.S. Census Bureau, 29 states were still providing less total school funding per student than they were in 2008, according to a recent report from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, D.C. In 19 states, local government funding per student fell over the same period, adding to the damage from state funding cuts.

If the economy has recovered, now is the time to increase spending in education, especially in the seven states who are being sued for underfunding public schools. And when the pot of money earmarked for schools expands, that is the time to fix the funding formulas. But with 35 states under GOP control it is doubtful that any action will be taken to remedy this inequity. From their perspective, when times are good it is an opportunity to cut taxes for the wealthy and for businesses.

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