||HELP SUPPORT ELC
ELC relies on the generous contributions of individuals, corporations and foundations to support our work.
Colorado Now" sent
the following to reporters on March 17, 2016.
COLORADO EARNS AN "F" FOR ITS LACK OF EFFORT ON PUBLIC SCHOOL FUNDING
National Report Card Highlights the Unfair Level and Distribution of School
Aid in Colorado
BOULDER, CO – Colorado's funding of public education
gets low marks in the recently released fifth edition of "Is
School Funding Fair? A National Report Card." The state's
low level of funding and failure to make a reasonable investment
to support its public schools earns Colorado poor marks when compared
to many other states.
The National Report Card (NRC), issued annually by the Education
Law Center (ELC) and Rutgers University, evaluates states on four
separate, but interrelated, "fairness indicators" – state fiscal "effort," funding
level, funding distribution, and public school "coverage." The
NRC provides the most in-depth analysis to date of state public
education finance and school funding fairness across the nation.
Colorado receives a grade of "F" for the state's effort
to invest in its schools. Effort is based on the percentage of
the state's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) allocated to education.
The state's low effort results in a low funding level. Colorado
ranks of 34 out of 49 on the level of per-pupil funding provided
to public schools. Colorado's average state and local revenue per
pupil in 2013 was $8,727, over a thousand dollars below the national
average of $9,766 per pupil.
On the important funding distribution measure, Colorado was among
18 states that had no substantial variation in funding between
high poverty and low poverty school districts, disregarding the
needs of their most disadvantaged students. Colorado scores a C
in funding distribution only because many other states are similarly
weak in this measure. Funding distribution measures the key issue
of whether a state's funding system recognizes the additional resources
required for students in settings of concentrated student poverty.
Two Colorado's districts are also featured in a companion report Is
School Funding Fair? America's Most Fiscally Disadvantaged School
Districts. The list features school districts that have higher
than average student needs compared to other districts in their
labor market and lower than average resources. Adams-Arapahoe
has a poverty rate that is 77% higher than its neighbors, and
receives only 89% of the average state and local funding. Greeley's
poverty rate is about one-third higher than its neighbors and
it receives 88% of the area's average funding.
Like its neighbors, Colorado scores well on public school coverage,
ranking at number 5. Coverage examines the share of school-aged
children who attend public schools and compares the median household
income of those children with the income levels of families who
do not use public schools. Only about 8% of Colorado school children
attend nonpublic schools. The income disparity between public and
nonpublic school households is relatively low, with nonpublic households
receiving about a quarter (25%) more income than public school
households, on average. Recent failed attempts to use public dollars
for private school voucher programs will help ensure Colorado's
public schools continue to serve a diverse student population.
"This report provides policymakers, legislators, and concerned
citizens with the information they need to assess their state's
commitment to fair school funding and to advocate for improvements
in the many states where that is absolutely necessary," said Dr.
Bruce Baker of Rutgers University Graduate School of Education,
a co-author of the National Report Card.
"The State's continuing failure to fairly fund public education
deprives Colorado students of the teachers, support staff and other
resources necessary for a high quality education," said David
G. Sciarra, Executive Director of the Education Law Center and
a co-author of the National Report Card. "We hope the NRC
results will serve as a wake-up call for lawmakers to put school
funding reform at the top of the education agenda."
"These results show Colorado school funding remains unfair
and inadequate, especially for students from low income families,
English language learners, children with disabilities, and children
at risk of not meeting state standards," explained Kathleen
Gebhardt, Executive Director of Educate Colorado Now!. "School
finance reform that is based on the actual costs of providing the
essential teachers, support staff and programs that all students
need is long overdue. It is time for our legislature to step up
to insure that all our students have the opportunities they need
to be successful."
First issued in 2010, the National Report Card is built on the
principle that predictable, stable and equitable state systems
of school finance are an essential precondition for the delivery
of a quality educational opportunity. Without this foundation,
efforts to improve the nation's schools will be less productive
and unsustainable. To improve on the condition and performance
of schools, states need to implement finance systems that provide
sufficient funding that is fairly distributed to account for the
needs of students, especially low-income students, English language
learners, and students with disabilities.
Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card is coauthored by
Dr. Bruce Baker of the Rutgers Graduate School of Education; David
Sciarra, Esq., Executive Director of the Education Law Center (ELC);
Dr. Danielle Farrie, ELC Research Director; and Theresa Luhm, Esq.,
ELC Managing Director. Please visit www.schoolfundingfairness.org for
the complete report.
More Information Contact:
Director, Educate Colorado Now!