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Update: Whatever Happened To School Funding Gaps?

Tumblr_lsaaeqSneB1qfeiolo1_500I frequently mock those who bring up education problems or tout solutions without doing the much more difficult work of figuring out how to fix the problem or get their ideas implemented. Here's your turn to mock me for doing much the same.  The latest state report card in Illinois reveals that there's a $15,000 funding gap between rich and poor districts.  As the Chicago Tribune reports, the gap remains stubbornly wide and the funding crisis means there's no obvious way to address it.  "In both 2002 and 2011, the 10 poorest schools on average spent 30 percent of what the 10 richest schools spent on average to educate each student, according to the analysis." Sure, Illinois relies more on local funding than many other states. And, as many have observed more money doesn't necessarily solve education's problems. But there wasn't all that much effort to address the inequality during the boom times, either, and no imaginable increase in Title I funding or targeting (except perhaps fixing the comparability loophole, which seems too obscure and painful to get done anytime soon) is going to make poor districts on par with richer ones.  If funding didn't matter, then rich districts wouldn't bother taxing themselves to provide resources to local kids.  If funding didn't matter, high-performing charter schools wouldn't cost so much.  Until and unless funding matters again in the public debate over education, I fear that we'll largely be left fiddling at the margins (which is what it feels like we're doing now).  How to rectify the funding gap, or to bring energy and attention to the problem, I frankly have no idea.  


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"How to rectify the funding gap, or to bring energy and attention to the problem, I frankly have no idea."

Well, you just did a little of the latter. Kudos. Do it again (and then again), everytime you discuss a claim that dodges the problem or says it isn't real.

Stand up in front of a community whose kids are being denied a fair chance, and say it with them. Report on the Schott Foundation and the Opportunity to Learn campaign.

You should also take this up with that Alexander Russo character, who says "throwing money" at low-income schools won't help (because they're all "bad", by definition, aren't they?)

In my opinion, the best way to reduce education gaps between rich and poor is to allow poor parents to act like rich parents and enable them to send their kids to the school of their choice. Ideally, low income parents would be able to enroll their kids in any open-enrollment public school regardless of their address and they would be able to use high-value vouchers valuable enough that they would cover tuition and fees at schools that teach rich kids.

We should be doing lots to increase funding for schools who spend less than the median. But we don't need to be spending nearly as much as what the top 10 schools spend. Those are outliers, and even the parents of children in those districts will tell you that their school budgets are overkill (they do, however, raise housing values in those communities, which is why they are allowed to continue to be so excessive).

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.