Education Trust Report Documents Huge Gap in School FundingWASHINGTONDeep inequities in school funding continue to plague most states, according to a new report released this month by the Education Trust. The report, “The Funding Gap: Low-Income and Minority Students Receive Fewer Dollars,” documented large funding gaps between high- and low-poverty and minority districts in many states. The analysis reveals that, in most states, school districts that educate the greatest number of low-income and minority students receive substantially less state and local money per student than districts with the fewest low-income and minority students. “In too many states, we see yet again that the very students who need the most get the least,” says Kati Haycock, director of the Education Trust. “At a time when schools, districts and states are rightly focusing on closing the achievement gap separating low-income and minority students from other students, states can and must do more to close these funding gaps.”Whereas most education finance data is reported either in averages or in terms of inequities, regardless of whom those inequities affect, “The Funding Gap” focuses on the question of what levels of state and local funding are available for different groups of students. Key findings of the study include:• In 30 of 47 states studied, the quarter of districts educating the greatest number of poor students receive substantially less (i.e., a difference of $100 or more per student) state and local money per student than the quarter of districts educating the fewest poor students.• In 31 of 47 states studied, districts enrolling the highest proportions of minority students receive substantially fewer (i.e., a difference of $100 or more per student) state and local education dollars per student than districts enrolling the lowest percentages of minority students. These gaps have real consequences for the quality of education low-income and minority children receive. In New York, for example — the state with the largest funding gaps — the $2,152 per student difference by poverty enrollment translates into a whopping $860,800 difference between high- and low-poverty elementary schools of the same size (400 students each). That amount would easily be enough for the high-poverty school to compete with elite suburban schools for the most qualified teachers and also provide extra instructional time for students who are behind. Nationally, districts that educate the greatest number of poor students receive $966 less per student than low-poverty districts.“The good news is, nationally and in some states, the gap between high- and low-poverty districts is shrinking. But overall, these data indicate clearly that those of us who are interested in ensuring that high-poverty and high-minority schools get the resources to help their students achieve at higher levels must urge states to do more to close their funding gaps,” Haycock says. For a more information or a copy of the report visit the Education Trust Web site at <www.edtrust.org>.
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