New York is considered "high spending" when it comes to public education.
But does the Empire State fairly fund its public schools?
The answer is a resounding no, according to just released data in the Second
Edition of the National Report Card "Is
School Funding Fair?" The National Report Card ranks New York as among the
nation's most unfair when it comes to funding public education.
New York's performance shows that, while well-to-do suburbs in the Empire
State have some of the highest funding levels in the nation, lower wealth cities,
towns and rural areas receive dramatically lower school funding despite often
having to address much higher levels of student need.
The disparity in school funding between high and low poverty districts across
the state is so great that New York's finance system stands out as deeply "regressive."
The National Report Card, first issued in 2010, posits that stable and equitable
state systems of school finance are an essential precondition for the delivery
of a high-quality education and of critical importance to efforts to close
persistent achievement gaps among the nation's low income students, English
language learners, and students with disabilities.
The Report Card evaluates state school finance systems on four separate, but
interrelated, "fairness indicators" -- funding level, funding distribution,
state fiscal effort, and public school coverage. A fair school funding system
is one that provides a funding level sufficient to support delivery of rigorous
academic standards, distributed to districts to address the additional needs
generated by student poverty.
While New York ranks high on funding level, it performs poorly on the funding
distribution relative to student poverty.
New York's relatively high average spending of $17,385 per pupil (adjusted
to allow for national comparisons) places it third among all states. On fairness,
however, the state receives a "D" grade because average funding levels in high
poverty districts are lower than average spending levels in low poverty districts.
This "Regressive" funding structure, in which poor districts spend only 82
cents for every dollar spent in wealthier districts, severely disadvantages
The National Report Card shows that New York's overall average spending masks
a fundamental flaw in its system of funding public schools, New York's extremely
wealthy suburban districts use local property taxes to maintain some of the
highest spending in the country, while urban and rural districts with greater
needs and less capacity to raise local funds struggle with levels of state
aid that are inadequate to offset their low property wealth.
The substantial unfairness in New York's distribution of school funding serves
as a stark backdrop to a pending lawsuit -- Hussein v. State of New York --
filed by students in over a dozen "small city" school districts, including
Albany, Troy and Jamestown. In June 2012, the Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, denied the State's motion to dismiss and the students' claim for fair school funding will now proceed to trial.
Visit the website "Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card" for the complete Report and Executive Summary. The website also features new interactive data reports and links to the 2010 edition of the report.