BOULDER, CO (February 14, 2023)—Recent reports from the Education Trust and Bellwether discuss the fair and adequate funding of schools. A review of both concludes that they have varying degrees of merit and value for policymakers.
Bruce Baker, professor and chair of the Department of Teaching and Learning at the University of Miami, reviewed Education Trust’s Equal Is Not Good Enough: An Analysis of School Funding Equity Across the U.S. and Within Each State and Bellwether’s Balancing Act: How States Can Address Local Wealth Inequity in Education Finance.
In his joint review, Baker explains how the Education Trust report is a valuable discussion of equitable school funding. But he describes the Bellwether report as lacking useful guidance, critiquing that report for providing no analyses of whether the policies mentioned in profiled states actually accomplish greater equity or stability of school revenues and spending.
The Education Trust report, Equal is Not Good Enough, and an accompanying piece, Access Granted: School Funding Between Schools in Districts, evaluate district revenue and school spending per pupil with respect to poverty, race, and language status. They focus on the extent to which states and local districts target sufficient resources fairly to these subgroups of students. They clearly lay out consistent evaluation criteria and conceptual framing, apply appropriate empirical methods with that framing, and provide data visualizations for understanding whether and to what extent states and local districts provide equitable school funding.
The primary value of the main Education Trust report and its supporting materials, Professor Baker explains, is their focus on racial disparities. As a result, policymakers can use these publications to understand which states and districts have the most work to do to improve racial inequality in education funding. These reports also provide literature-based guidance for establishing funding policy that directs resources where they are most needed in order to provide equal educational opportunities for all students.
The second report, Bellwether’s Balancing Act: How States Can Address Local Wealth Inequity in Education Finance, addresses how state finance systems rely on and regulate local property taxes and what design features should be included in state school finance systems.
The Bellwether report contains a collection of state school funding profiles from six states. But it lacks empirical analyses that link its recommended property tax policies to improved school funding equity or revenue stability. Lacking such analyses, Professor Baker concludes, the Bellwether report can provide no useful, validated guidance for policymakers.
Find the review, by Bruce Baker, at:
Find Equal Is Not Good Enough: An Analysis of School Funding Equity Across the U.S. and Within Each State, written by Ivy Morgan and published by the Education Trust, at:
Find its accompanying piece, Access Granted: School Funding Between Schools in Districts, at:
Find Balancing Act: How States Can Address Local Wealth Inequity in Education Finance, written by Indira Dammu, Bonnie O'Keefe, and Jennifer O'Neal Schiess and published by Bellwether, at: