Education finance sets the foundation for what is possible in every school in the country. Education finance equity is critical to leveling the playing field for underserved students in under-resourced schools. But in too many states, the education funding system remains inequitable, inadequate, and opaque to all but a few. Even state school finance systems designed to reflect strong principles around equity can be rife with technical pitfalls or loopholes that jeopardize the realization of those principles for students and schools.
How can advocates make these systems work more effectively in order to provide the necessary resources for all students?
Bellwether Education Partners’ series Splitting the Bill: Understanding Education Finance Equity gives advocates a crash course in the fundamentals of education finance and in key questions to ask in their states and communities. This series of short briefs is part of Bellwether’s ongoing examination of how finance and inequity in education shortchange millions of students and families.
- What Is School Finance Equity and Why Does It Matter? lays the foundation for education finance by outlining what an equitable system looks like, the ways in which money matters, and how spending can help or hinder schools.
- How Are Public Schools Funded? gives an overview of how America’s public K-12 schools are funded at the local, state, and federal level.
- How Are State Education Funding Formulas Structured? examines common state school funding formula structures and how different systems promote or detract from equity.
- What Are the Biggest Equity Problems in State Education Finance Systems? highlights five common pitfalls in education finance equity across the country.
- How Can School Finance Systems Support Students With Additional Learning Needs? explores the ways in which students with disabilities, English language learners, and economically disadvantaged students need additional resources and support to succeed in school, and how state school funding formulas should account for those additional needs so that every school can support every student.
- How Do Local Taxes Affect School Finance Equity? shows how the most common mechanism to generate local revenue for public school systems — property taxes — are also a long-standing driver of inequity.
- How Do Districts Distribute Money to Schools? illustrates the process by which school districts exercise discretion in how they distribute funds to schools and how that discretion can contribute to education finance inequity — even in highly equitable state systems.
- Are School Finance Lawsuits Effective? discusses the opportunities and tradeoffs of lawsuits as a tool for reforming state school finance systems and outlines key considerations for state-based advocates.
- What Should the Future of School Finance Equity Look Like? finishes the Splitting the Bill series by giving advocates a roadmap to develop stronger school finance expertise, and envisions how state education finance systems could work better for young people furthest from opportunity.