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NATIONAL REPORT CARD SHINES NEW LIGHT ON WHY FAIR SCHOOL FUNDING MATTERS
Last month, Education Law Center released the 4th edition of the National
Report Card, "Is School Funding Fair?" The picture is bleak: the vast
majority of states are not funding public schools adequately or equitably;
the fiscal retrenching connected with the Great Recession has not been
reversed; and at-risk students are not being provided with the resources
they need to succeed.
Bottom line: disinvestment in public education continues in most
states, along with the unequal distribution of funding, depriving
American schoolchildren of the resources they deserve and must
have to succeed in school.
But one bright spot is the growing interest in learning more about
the underfunding of our nation's public schools and how the lack
of resources is a significant obstacle to improving student outcomes.
This year's National Report Card resonated with journalists, editorial
writers, commentators and radio hosts across the country. A broad
array of national,
state and local media reported on how particular states ranked
on the Report Card and how states compared to their neighbors and
to states across the country. Media outlets also found the national
trends in public education finance presented in the Report Card
important and compelling news for their audiences.
Coverage of the Report Card included "Inequitable
School Funding Called the Sleeper Civil Rights Issue of Our Time" (Washington
Disinvestment in Public Schools Crippling Poor Students, Report
Finds" (Education Week), "This
is Where School Funding is the Least 'Fair,' According to New
Reports" (Huffington Post) and "Few
States Set Aside More Funds for High-Poverty Schools, Report
Says" (McClatchyDC). These and other stories focused on the
many states that still do not adequately fund their public schools
and that provide less funding to schools with high concentrations
of poor and needy students.
State and local media hewed closer to home: "Report:
Pa. Gets a 'D' for School Funding Distribution" (Philadelphia
Daily News), "Colorado
School Finances Get Failing Grade" (Journal-Advocate) and "Post-Recession,
School Funding Continues to Suffer Greatly Along with Students,
Teachers" (Kansas City Star).
Several editorial pages weighed in, including the Charlotte Observer
Flunking Grade" and the Columbian in Washington State with "In
Our View: 21st Century Education - Providing One for All Washington
Students Should be Lawmakers Top Goal." Public radio stations
and education bloggers, including Diane
Ravitch, also featured the report and its findings.
News outlets didn't simply share the school funding information
made available in the Report Card. They helped inform the public
about what "fair" school funding means and that it includes both
an adequate funding level and the distribution of funding based
on student and school need. This reporting helped shine a light
on the growing number of poor children being educated in the nation's
public schools, and the urgent need to provide those children with
additional funding to overcome their challenges.
"We are gratified by the attention paid to the National Report
Card," said David Sciarra, Education Law Center Executive Director
and report co-author. "The message is spreading that school funding
matters. States are recovering from the Great Recession, but in
many cases families are not, and their children come to school
needing additional supports. The states that provide those supports
- from preschool to sufficient staff and services - see improved
"The Report Card provides valuable information, but the key is
what we as a nation do with that information," Mr. Sciarra added. "Will
we provide our children with the opportunity to succeed in school
and in life, or will we continue to shortchange them?"
Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card is coauthored by
Bruce Baker of the Rutgers Graduate School of Education; David
Sciarra, Executive Director of Education Law Center (ELC); and
Danielle Farrie, Research Director for ELC. Please visit www.schoolfundingfairness.org to
download the report and to explore the findings with interactive
Education Law Center Press Contact: